The best pad thai in America

Washington, D.C.

One of my favorite shows on television is Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Each episode, Flay identifies a chef who makes the best specialty food — from buffalo chicken wings to muffalleta sandwiches — and then challenges him or her to a “throwdown.” It pushes Flay to step outside of his grilling comfort zone while allowing some unknown, but highly qualified local cooks, a shot at beating an Iron Chef (on Food Network, no less).

A couple weeks back, Flay visited Thai Basil to take on Chef Nongkran Daks during a pad thai throwdown. As a fan of spicy, southeast Asian foods, this episode was one of my favorites. So, when we learned that Thai Basil was actually in Chantilly, Virginia — about a 25 minute ride from D.C. — we knew where we’d be having lunch today.

Thai Basil sits in an unpretentious strip mall not far from Dulles Airport. The decor inside is simple; a couple of conical hats line the walls, local newspaper articles boasting the restaurant’s accolades sit beneath the glass tabletops. But we hadn’t come for the atmosphere; we had come for the pad thai. After a couple of appetizers, including Som Tam, a crispy shredded papaya salad with spicy chili-lime dressing, we geared up for the real deal: the shrimp pad thai.

We agreed that the noodles were cooked perfectly and the sauce was a delicious balance of sweet, sour, spicy and tangy. The lime added a nice citrus flavor and the peanuts and bean sprouts offered some additional texture. Served with a hot sauce sampler, it was just perfect.





I’m no restaurant critic, but I’ve ate at my fair share of Thai restaurants — including those in Thailand. And, I’ve got to say, Nongkran knows what she’s doing.

Her pad thai is the best I’ve had.


  1. Lou Perry says:

    Best Pad Thai is simply Talay Thai Cuisine in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. This kid, who’s the Chef down here is unbelievable. It’s refined contemporary Thai. But, it is consistantly great.


  1. […] also covered this event on his blog, you can see his take on the meal here. If he challenged me to the blogspehere throwdown who would win? You be the […]

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