Before things slow down here for the next few days, the first in a series of planned posts about the overall state of various cuisines in Wheaton. This is more for my own benefit than anything, reminding myself about the lay of my own land, but if it helps anyone else, that’s great too. I’m starting with Thai because the overall quality here is excellent, and Nava is, in my opinion, not only the single best restaurant in Wheaton, but is also as good as any Thai restaurant I have found outside of Thailand, including having lived and eaten for years in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area (I have not been to Portland’s acclaimed Pok Pok, but that day of reckoning will eventually happen…oh yes, it will happen!). Anyway:
Nava (11301 Fern) — the best, Jerry, the best! Everything is good, the spicier the better. Just turn to your server and smile and say “Kaprow!” and all will be well. Even the pad thai is worth getting, notably better than other restaurants’ versions. But ordering more exotic, less-well-known-to-Westerners dishes also pays off here.
Ruan (11407 Amherst) — very good, just not as good as Nava, and much smaller, the gem of the extremely divey strip mall near the Wheaton Post Office just North of University. We tend to get takeout here rather than eat-in. Their website is fairly new and similar to the restaurant in its simple quality. Soups and pad prik khing are my favorites here; massamun curry, while not 100% authentic, is still tasty although on the sweet side.
Suporn (2301 Price) — food equal to Ruan, and one commenter here once praised its vegetarian options as better than Nava’s. Bigger than Ruan, similar decor. I have only eaten here once in the past five years but it was recent (2009), and very good.
Dusit (2404 University) — once great, but fell apart in 2006 or 2007, when (I think this is right but I could be wrong) their chef quit and moved to Nava. If true, it would explain a lot. We had back-to-back disastrous experiences here right around that transitional time (whatever happened, there was a clear transition from great to not) and haven’t been back since. Would be interested to know if anyone prefers it to any of the other three notable Wheaton Thai places. No Dusit website that I know of.
I don’t know if the place behind Hung Phat, where Nava used to be, is strictly Thai or more pan-Asian, or what — it was Thai when I visited right after it opened but I think it may have changed some since then. Gotta get back there.
In sum: Nava is the bomb, but you can’t go wrong with Ruan or Suporn, and if those three weren’t so good, I would have given Dusit another chance by now, but why bother when you know you’ll get good Thai at the other places.