Nava Thai in Wheaton has come along way from when husband and wife Suchart and Ladavan Srigatesook opened their restaurant in a small space tucked way behind the “Hung Phat” Asian market back around 2007. With rave reviews from Washington Post restaurant reviewer, Tom Sietsema, Nava Thai quickly gained so many clients and so much fame that it was able to take over the former “Sir Walter Raleigh” restaurant next door to “Hung Phat”. (FYI – Tom Sietsema particularly recommends the “Floating Island” soup, hot-and-sour scored squid and the grilled chicken with sticky rice) In 2013, Washingtonian magazine even named Nava Thai in its list of 100 best restaurants in the metro DC area!
When you look at the front of restaurant, the architecture of the original free standing “Sir Walter Raleigh” restaurant is obvious (the exception being the bold yellow Nava Thai sign which has been added to the building.
The golden yellow with red trim color scheme that was added to the outside of the old “Sir Walter Raleigh” continues inside where the same color scheme manages – along with some Thai/Asian art manages – to disguise the intended former faux Colonial /Tudor feel of the dining rooms.
I can’t avoid mentioning though the sign in the foyer which has caught my attention and raised my eyebrows. For the life of me, just how do you interpret this signage indicating where the rest rooms are? Is the man looking over the wall of the toliet? Is he hanging on the wall of the toliet while he does a dump? I thought about asking the staff – but sometimes it’s better just not to know! <Wink>
Nava Thai’s menu is quite large and spans 4 pretty big pages! Despite a lot of time searching, I’ve been unable to identify a web site for Nava Thai or an online copy of the current menu (The purported copies of the menu that I’ve found a handful of web sites providing only list barely 20% of the options on the actual menu – My efforts finally dug up an online version of Nava Thai’s menu from 2009 – while prices have gone up, the 5 pages of menu offerings and descriptions seem closest – with the exception of the prices! - to the current menu.
At a visit on April 6, 2014, I tried “Duck Noodle Soup” ($10). With big slices of tender, not fatty duck meat, bean sprouts and lots of noodle in a spicy (but not overly hot!) dark broth, this was a define “Thumbs Up!” winner.
My buddy Tom had a meal of two appetizers that caught his attention: Fish Cakes (6 for $7) and Yum Nauy ($8 – a spicy beef salad). The fish cakes were deep fried and surprisingly a bit chewy in a very appealing way.
The Yum Nauy had grilled fillet beef tossed with tomato, cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, scallion, and cilantro in spicy lime juice.sauce served on bed of lettuce. Tom noted ” it well qualified as spicy in my book and thank goodness it had an abundant quantity of cucumber to help quench the heat”. In any case, he observed that “It was deelish!”.
All of this raises a good to know “caveat diner” – Nava Thai’s kitchen definition of even “medium hot” can prove daunting even to folks who think that they like hot Asian food! You’re well advised to take it easy on the heat that you request on a first visit until you have had a chance to sample some of the Thai food here!
Our friend Cathy sampled the Pad Thai with shrimp ($12) and equally enjoyed it!
Service at Nava Thai is consistently good. Water glasses get filled routinely and even requests for separate checks are (sometimes…) honored! Is it worth the drive to Wheaton from Baltimore? Well, I’d have to think twice about that but…
FACTS: Nava Thai – Wheaton – 11301 Fern St – 240-430-0495 – No web site; Full bar; Open 7 days a week for both lunch and dinner; On street parking with public lot available across the street (Parking meters are free on Sunday!)
FYI – If you’re dining at Nava Thai, you sure ought to take advantage of the opportunity to check out “Hung Phat”, an Asian Market with heavy emphasis on Vietnamese condiments right next door to Nava Thai; Hung Phat is open 7 days a week from 9 am to 8 pm.