It is funny how tastes tend to change over time. According to my psychobiology teacher, that would be due to the fact that we lose tastebuds as we age. I used to hate thai food when I was growing up. My parents would rave about this little thai restaurant in Falls Church, bringing home leftover spicy catfish and green curry for us to try. I would taste a little piece of fish and claim that it was too spicy or fishy.
The remnants of our thai takeout (shrimp red curry and pad kee mao aka "drunken noodles")
Fast forward years later, and thai food has become one of my favorite cuisines. While many Americans are familiar with pad thai and curries, they often overlook the many other dishes that are offered in thai restaurants. I have become more adventurous with my selections, as I hope to gain a more thorough understanding of thai cuisine.
On a recent Sunday evening, my parents, Malia, and I were trying to decide what takeout option would satiate our hunger. Having had pizza earlier in the week, I suggested Thai. We quickly got out our favorite takeout menu for Pilin.
Taking charge as usual, my Mom told us to order our Dad's favorite dish "that eggplant thing" (also known as Tofu Eggplant Basil). We also ordered the Tom Yum Gai soup, Pad Kee Mao, shrimp red curry, and chicken satay.
This turned out to be the perfect amount of food. As you can see from the picture, we happily devoured our meal (I was only able to capture the remnants). The highlights of the meal were probably the Tom Yum Gai soup, the red curry, and the eggplant. The Tom Yum Gai is a spicy lemon grass broth filled with shrimp, mushrooms, onion, and hot peppers. Boy did the pepper flecks explode in your mouth. I love a spicy soup, and this one is sure to clear out your sinuses! The lemongrass, lime juice, and cilantro give so much depth of flavor to this dish. It is light and fresh.
The red curry was excellent, although it could have been a little spicier in my opinion. I like to be on the verge of tears when I'm eating thai food. But in all seriousness, this curry is light, slightly spicy, and full of flavor. The coconut milk adds body and creaminess. The fish sauce gives it a salty depth of flavor. The juicy shrimp were a great addition.
The eggplant is sauted with tofu, basil, and peppers in a bean sauce. The eggplant soak up the sauce and the oil. I would have used a tad less oil, but the flavors were excellent. The basil is super fresh. The tofu is slightly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The chicken satay was decent - grilled pieces of meat that were fairly juicy. The peanut sauce was too sweet. The biggest disappointment, the pad kee mao (drunken noodles) had very little kick. This dish is supposed to be very spicy, but this version was lacking in chillis. The beans served with the noodles were crunchy and sweet - which would have been a nice compliment had there been more heat. The noodles lacked much flavor besides the taste of oil.
I would skip the noodles and go with a curry or pilin specialty. I have tried the catfish on occasion and would definitely recommend that (and don't forget the delicious soup). All in all Pilin does an excellent job with the preparation of all their dishes. Don't be afraid to try something other than Pad Thai!
116 West Broad St.
Falls Church, VA 22046
TEL. 703 241 5850
8385 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22182
TEL. 703 556 9191
2 out of 3 JAMs