I’ve probably made this statement a million times before, but Thai is easily one of my favorite cuisines. It’s hard to beat the flavorful food and affordable price you’re able to find at a Thai restaurant. SOI 38 has been on the DC Michelin Guide for the past four years, so it was a no brainer for me to check out the restaurant. My friend and I went for lunch at SOI 38 last week Saturday, and immediately upon entering the restaurant, I was impressed. The ambiance is very modern, but it is still able to provide the nostalgic of dining in Bangkok, and the food offers depth and flavor.
Parking & Location: The exact location for SOI 38 is 2101 L St NW,Washington, DC 20037, which is located pretty close to George Washington University and the closet metro stop is Foggy Bottom with a 7-minute walk from the station to the restaurant. I checked out the restaurant on a Saturday afternoon and easily found street parking, but keep in mind that the restaurant is located on a one-way street, so it would be easier to take advantage of one of the many parking garages located in the area.
Ambiance: Upon entering the restaurant, your eyes are drawn to the vivid dragon and elephant mural done throughout the restaurant. SOI 38 does a great job incorporating art in the restaurant without making it too overwhelming by going with a black and gold color palette . The color and overall design choice with the seating options and chandeliers create an intimate space at SOI 38 that ties in each element seamlessly.
One standard compliant about dinning in DC is that one often feels like they’re dining on top of each other, but I am happy to say that SOI 38 feels very spacious and offers various seating options. The booths are spacious and quite comfortable, so I would recommend requesting a booth when checking out the restaurant. The large booths make the restaurant a great location for any group celebrations, and the intimate setting makes it the perfect date night spot.
Food: What makes SOI 38 food unique is that the majority of dishes on the menu are inspired/ taken from Northern Thailand, and the menu also offers a variety of traditional dishes that is not atypical on a Thai restaurant menu. One of the main appeal of Thai food is affordability, so it goes without saying that my friend and I enjoyed a feast.
Below are the dishes we tried :
We started with the Tum Yum Goong soup ( small $7, large $17 spicy lemongrass soup, shrimp, roasted chili paste) . It wasn’t spicy, in my opinion, so I wouldn’t let the chili paste dissuade you from trying the soup. The lemongrass flavor is noticeable but blends well with the shrimp and was overall a tasty opening dish.
Nua Dadd Deaw ( $9 , fried sun-dried beef, sriracha sauce) , which was probably my 2nd favorite dish . It’s hard not to appreciate the simplicity of the dish, and I’m a big fan of beef.
Nam Prik Ong ($18, northern Thai spicy pork and tomato dip (minced pork, tomatoes, Thai shrimp paste, chili, garlic), steamed fresh vegetables, hard-boiled egg, pork rinds, sticky rice ) this is one of their more traditional dishes. I enjoyed the spicy pork and thought that the steamed fresh vegetable went great with it.
Khao Pad Sapparod ($18, pineapple fried rice, shrimp, cashews, carrots, egg served in a pineapple shell ) it hard to go wrong with pineapple fried rice and is typically my go-to when ordering Thai food. Plus, the presentation was spot on and enhanced the dining experience.
Seua Rong Hai ($19, grilled flank steak, spicy green papaya salad, sticky rice, chili and lime sauce) was cooked to perfection and was very tender. I am slowly becoming a fan of papaya salad and thought it accompanied the steak very well.You got a hearty dish without the overload of carbs, which is always appreciated.
Khao Neaw Mamuang ( $7, fresh mango, sweet sticky rice, coconut milk ) in my world no meal is complete with dessert, and the sticky mango rice hit the spot. I actually would have opted for a second round if I wasn’t on a self-proclaimed diet.
The Emperor’s Punch ( $35, monkey shoulder whiskey, fresh lemon, housemade tamarind syrup, Thai herbal tea, aromatic chili bitters. Serves 2-4 people ) this is served in a gorgeous teapot and is strong without tasting too strong, so I would highly recommend getting this drink.
We also tried two dishes that are currently not on the menu yet, but is expected to be added in late February. I forsee both dishes being a hit with customers because of the depth and flavor both dishes offer.
Overall I would highly recommend checking out SOI 38. It’s the perfect date night spot that wont break the bank or the perfect place to catch up with a friend(s) , which is what I did on Saturday.
Ambiance – 9/10
Drinks – 8/10
Food – 8/10
Cost – 8/10