The Dish: sizzling Siam beef
The Location: PaSa-Thai Cuisine, 1315 Old Chain Bridge Road, McLean, (703) 442-0090
The Price: $12 for lunch; $14 for dinner
The Skinny: My behavior might offend Thai natives, but right now I don’t care. I’m completely ignoring the rice that accompanies my cast-iron platter of sizzling Siam beef—an affront, I’m sure, that’s tantamount to stiffing a monk in search of alms. But when it comes to the primal matter of pleasing my palate, I don’t believe much in ceremony, or even diplomacy. Screw the rice. These thin slices of beef are too tasty to share mouth space with fluffy grains, no matter how ingrained in Thai cuisine rice may be. Chef Alkorn Limpatjanangkul marinates his beef from one to three days in a mixture of sesame oil, soy sauce, and sugar, then quickly stir-fries the beef and sprinkles these succulent ribbons with slivers of fresh ginger and ringlets of green scallions. It’s the Thai version of London broil, really, and the flavor balance is perfect—and I mean perfect. The meat trips almost every receptor on your tongue: You taste saltiness, but it’s not too salty; you taste sugar, but it’s not too sweet; you taste nuttiness, but it’s not tahinilike in its intensity; and, best of all, you taste that browned, rich meatiness which ties all these ingredients together. I continue to eat them—one after another after another after another—long after my appetite has left the dining room. And I eat them even though I finished another meal just an hour earlier.