Nava Thai, Wheaton, MD

So, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and every sports bar in town is packed. Me? I sauntered up to the bar at Nava Thai, ordered a Singha ($4.50), and watched the opening of the game there.

I ordered Stir Fried Crispy Duck ($11.95) with chili, garlic, and Holy basil. I’ve always suspected Nava Thai used MSG, so I asked my bartender if I could get it without. He said, “Sure,” then went over and punched in some instructions – he didn’t type anything, so I think one of the buttons actually said “No MSG” on it.

This was a gutsy, peasant version of this classic dish (think Rabieng rather than Duangrat’s), the most interesting thing being a stem full of teeny-tiny green berries thrown into the dish that looked (and tasted) like micro-capers, but I’m not quite sure they were.

The duck itself needed to see higher heat (I’m presuming it was flash-fried), as it was not crispy except in a very few places. Still, it was a pleasant dish with a coarse-tasting (in a good way) chili-based sauce. Two older Thai gentlemen were sitting next to me sharing a pot of something extraordinarily fatty (or cartilaginous), maybe pig knuckles.

There was a big glass jar marked “TIPS” with a perfectly folded $5 bill in the bottom, as if it were an invitation. On a possibly related note, I’d sat there for over an hour, and right when the check arrived, the proprietor (with whom I hadn’t talked for the entire meal) brought me a glass of ice water.

I also ordered a Pad Thai with Chicken ($9.95) to go, dropping it off at dear old mom’s (you know, the person with the really big, nice TV) 🙂 I only took a couple nibbles and it seemed fine, but it was unmixed (since it was a carryout order), so I didn’t get the full picture – she called me today and said she loved it.

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