Journey Down the Mekong: Alfie’s Offers a Taste of Thailand


March 3, 2016

Zoe Sun

The Capital’s Asian food scene could not be hotter right now: from the ramen experts at Daikaya and the eclectic, commercial, and culinary presenter Maketto, to the unexpected success of the Laotian restaurant Thip Khao, D.C. foodies have an impressive access to unfamiliar flavors. Adding to this flow of restaurant openings is Alfie’s, a Thai “Traveler’s Bar” that for now welcomes diners a few blocks down the street from what will be its permanent location in Petworth. Two days after its opening, I decided that I needed some spice to stay warm on a chilly, Thursday night.

Zoe Sun

Walking into Alfie’s, I spotted every element of a rustic, hip restaurant: the menu is written on a chalk board and printed on a piece of paper, and the heating pipes are bare, hanging right above the diners. Everything from the chairs and tables to the bathroom doors are made of wood that squeaks when moved.

The feast officially began with the special of the day, Yam Gai Yang, or charcoal-grilled chicken salad with banana flower, lemongrass, fried peanuts and herbs. The refreshing taste of the herbs and other condiments softened the smokiness of the charcoal, and the chicken was tender and easily pulled apart. The next dish, Tom Saap Kraduk Nuu, or spicy Isaan pork rib soup with chili, aromatics, and lime leaf, was even better. The pork rib was melt-in-your-mouth tender.

My favorite of the night, however, was the Het Pad Cha, or stir-fried mushrooms with krachai, chilis, makrut, and basil. The broth that the mushrooms floated in was spicy yet flavorful, with a hint of sweetness. On the other hand, Yam Kaeua Yao, or grilled eggplant salad with egg, dried shrimp, herbs, and lime was less than stellar. I expected a hot salad plate with a runny egg on top, but it turned out to be a cold dish with crumbles of hard-boiled egg and skimps of dried shrimp sprinkled all over. The lime overpowered the subtle flavor of the eggplant, and the entire dish was left untouched after a bite or two.  

Dessert is always a must for me at restaurants so unique and special like Alfie’s, yet this time I had to leave my sweet tooth unsatisfied, simply because the restaurant had not started to offer a dessert menu yet. The ending to our dining experience at Alfie’s leaves us some excitement for our next visit, and until then, we will keep dreaming about our journey down the Mekong.

Alfie’s is located at 3301 Georgia Avenue.

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