For our anniversary this year, we decided to go exotic and try a DC must–the Northern Thai tasting menu at Little Serow in Dupont Circle.
The entrance is a little nondescript door on the basement level of a rowhome. The line is the signal you’re at the right place. Little Serow doesn’t take reservations, so diners line up when it opens to get on the list for a table.
The restaurant is very dimly lit, with only a smattering of tables on one side of the wall and a long bar on the other with stools. Country music played while servers in aprons and plaid shirts walked to and from the kitchen–a Southern vibe for a Northern Thai restaurant.
The menu is set each night (with no substitutions) at $49 a person for six to seven family-style courses–a bargain from a tasting menu perspective even though each dish is shared.
Our first dish to arrive was nam prik nahrohk: those South Asian foam-y looking chips with shrimp paste. An assortment of veggies and a basket of sticky rice to help us through the meal came along too.
Two more dishes followed, het nam tok–mushrooms–and ma hor–a sour fruit and pork salad with pineapples and peaches. The fruit salad was my favorite of the two–sweet, spicy, and salty.
Next up was a chicken dish called laap gai chiang mai of offal and spices. Thank god for the cabbage, things were starting to get spicier and spicier!
I started to reach for that sticky rice more and more.
Even the next salad didn’t let up the heat: khao taen samun phrai with little rice cakes. The rice cakes were crunchy, sweet, and sticky, and was one of my favorite dishes of the whole meal.
The next dish was much smaller in size–but we were honestly thankful for it. Even though all of the dishes were for sharing, they were brought out quickly and we were getting stuffed! A little curry dish–kaeng kniaw waan–with hearts of palm, deliciously fragrant basil, and eggplant.
Our final dish of the night was tender falling-off-the-bone pork ribs with Mehkong whiskey (si krong muu). Even though I was getting so full, I found the will to make room for these babies.
On the brink of a serious food coma, a little sweet treat appeared to end the meal.
Little cakes of sticky rice, coconut cream, and sesame. A lovely, sweet ending.
Overall we loved Little Serow. It’s really quite surprising that it did not receive a Michelin star while Tail-Up Goat, another restaurant the same chef/owner is involved in but where we had a much less-inspiring meal, did. The service though I will say was better at Tail-Up Goat. At Little Serow we had a few different servers, two of whom were a bit more reserved and one who stood out as much more knowledgeable and attentive. I have a few qualms with that Michelin list but I’ll save it for another time!
In the meantime–line up for Little Serow around 5:30 with your small group (no more than four!) for an amazing taste of Northern Thailand!