Sabai Sabai Simply Thai, Germantown, MD

For those of us who remember the glories of Thai Square from five or ten years ago, there may be another eye-popping option. Except that based on this meal alone – which, granted, is not enough to be casting judgment on a restaurant – Sabai Sabai Simply Thai is working at a more refined level. Not necessarily “better,” but more refined.

Crispy Duck with Basil ($14.95) just plain humiliated the virtually identical dish I’d ordered two nights before at Nava Thai. Flash-fried roasted duck with fresh chili pepper sauce topped with crispy Holy basil – it “reads” the same, but the execution was sublime, the quality of the duck meat exceptional, and the crispy basil every bit as exciting as the crispy spinach at Rasika that gets so much press.

I hesitated to order two “crispy” dishes, but could not resist the Crispy Herbal Fish ($15.95) made with fresh (!) tilapia filets marinated with turmeric, lemongrass, garlic and black pepper. This was way better than the (very good) cumin fish at Hong Kong Palace, and could be absolutely mentioned in the same breath as Peter Chang.

Pad Thai with Chicken ($9.95) was ordered for texture, and also to see what they’d do with the chicken meat. This was a great version of Pad Thai that I’d love to try next to Nongkran Daks’ Bobby Flay-slaying rendition at Thai Basil.

I don’t know if I caught Sabai Sabai Simply Thai on the best of evenings, but I do know that this was a candidate for one of the best Thai meals I’ve ever had in my life.

Absolutely, positively, raised in the Dining Guide, with plans to return in the very near future.

Sabai Sabai Simply Thai explicitly states on the their menu that “we never add MSG,” and with food this flavorful and good, why on earth would you need to? Wow!

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