Thai scores in Potomac
Our critic checks out the tasty food and enormous desserts at the recently opened Sisters Thai
Sisters Thai’s name derives from the sisterlike relationship between Disayawathana’s niece and her own daughter. The chef, Prasert Limsumang (“Uncle Moo”), is Disayawathana’s uncle.
In addition to the steamed dumplings, a great start to a Sisters Thai meal can be found in the grilled Esaan sausage, a solid rendition of that slightly funky pork and garlic sausage from northeastern Thailand. Curry puffs—pastry pies filled with a potato filling—are flaky and satisfying. A curry of chicken, coconut milk and green curry paste tastes nicely of lemongrass and lime leaf, but doesn’t get any help from the thin, cold waffle that comes with it. You’re supposed to use wedges of the waffle to eat the curry, taco-like, but a better bet is to order one of the red, yellow or green curries as an entree. Larb gai, the well-known Thai salad of sauteed ground chicken, red onions, cilantro, lime juice and fish sauce, could use more of a heat wallop and more ground toasted rice powder, the crucial ingredient that adds crunchy texture.
A must-have entree is Limsumang’s crispy duck ka prow, slices of crisp-skinned duck breast batter-fried to crunchiness and tossed with Thai basil leaves and chili garlic sauce. That dish goes nicely with som tum set, a refreshing salad made with shredded green papaya, peanuts, crunchy green beans, lime juice, fish sauce and chili peppers served with chicken thighs that have been marinated in coconut milk, oyster sauce and curry powder and grilled. For noodle soup lovers, the boat noodles soup—thin rice noodles, beef meatballs, sliced pork and Chinese broccoli in pork stock flavored with a touch of dark soy sauce—hits the spot.
As tempting as the scored and deep-fried whole flounder standing bolt upright on a platter might be if you see it served at a neighboring table, pass it up. Mine is tragically overcooked and yields little flesh worth eating, almost a crime at $55. Another disappointment is crab fried rice—although it is beautifully presented in a neat, molded dome and has plenty of crab meat on top, the rice is utterly flavorless.
Desserts at Sisters Thai are elaborate affairs. One of them, billed as mini toast, is in reality enormous; it’s a 4-inch square brick of toasted bread hollowed out enough to fill it with strawberry and vanilla ice creams that get topped with pink sugar sprinkles, fresh strawberries, a chocolate macaron and two strawberry-dipped cookie sticks known as Pocky sticks. The Milo volcano is Sisters Thai’s version of bingsoo, the Korean shaved ice dessert; this one is a mound of chocolate flavored shaved ice garnished with mini marshmallows, malted milk balls and whipped cream. The toast and volcano are each large enough for four people to share. My preferred dessert at Sisters Thai is purple-hued sticky rice flavored with coconut milk and sugar and served with a semi-circle of artfully sliced and fanned fresh mango. It proves the point that glitzy is not necessarily better.