Pilin Thai is one of the finer Thai restaurants in Falls Church. Besides the peaceful, quiet and chic atmosphere, this venue boasts a wide array of cuisine, from the Spicy Crispy Catfish to Pad Thai and Shrimp Panang Curry.
The dinner menu also includes hot and cold appetizers, three different salads, curry, various soups and fresh imported Mango and Homemade Thai Custard for dessert.
The restaurant is tiny, and the tables are classic dark wood with elegant flatware. The walls are adorned with modernist, pastel-colored paintings and fabric screens. Dim, golden light is cast by the blue and silver fixtures that hang throughout the restaurant. At the back is a small bar with many different liquors.
The lunch menu is smaller and only has entrées, and a choice of the Regular or Deluxe Lunch Special. I ordered the Deluxe Lunch Special ($9.95), which gives the choice of soup or salad, a spring roll, a soft drink and an entrée. For the main course I chose the Chicken in Chef’s Roasted Red Chili Sauce.
I also sampled the Thai iced tea ($3). The tea was very sweet, with vanilla and cinnamon flavors mixed together into a heavy consistency and poured over ice. Even though it was a bit expensive, its thickness and delicious flavor made up for the price. Other drink options include Thai iced coffee, an extensive wine list, soft drinks and several mixed drinks.
A small cup of Wonton soup was brought out before the meal and filled with scallions and a generous portion of wonton dumplings. The warm, dense broth was not spicy and instead had a light, salty taste.
Following the soup was a large, expertly prepared spring roll, deep fried and stuffed with ground pork, chicken, taro- a leafy vegetable widely used in Asian cuisine- carrots, noodles and mushrooms. It was served with a sweet orange sugar sauce, celery and raw carrots cut into wheels. The roll was crispy but not flaky or difficult to chew, and the meat inside was tender and slightly spicy.
Served piping hot, the Chicken in Chef’s Roasted Red Chili Sauce entrée included crunchy onions, carrots, scallions and celery, all simmering in a large white bowl over a mound of white rice. The red chili sauce, drizzled over huge slices of juicy, tender chicken and heavily buttered cashew nuts, sat at the bottom of the bowl and gave the dish a spicy punch.
Overall, the food at Pilin Thai was fantastic. At lunchtime on a Monday, the atmosphere is quieter than it probably is on a Friday or Saturday evening. Before noon there were few guests, but eventually the lunch crowd arrived and the restaurant filled. The wait staff is professional, and I was served promptly after ordering.
The bonus, on top of the great fare, the competent staff and the easy-going environment, was the price. Altogether, with the Deluxe Lunch Special ($9.95), the Thai iced tea ($3) and a tip for my server coming to under $20, it was worth the price – making this affordable and attractive restaurant a “go-to” spot.
Pilin Thai Restaurant & Lounge
116 West Broad St.
Falls Church, Va. 22046
Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. & 5 – 9 p.m.