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Tim Carman Has the Hots for Sabydee’s Lao Cooking

What the critics are saying this week

Papaya salad at Sabydee.
Photo by Nicha T. / Yelp


For his $20 Diner column, Washington Post food writer Tim Carman visits the tiny, months-old Thai and Lao restaurant in Northwest that’s run by the former chef at Sawatdee in Arlington, Virginia. Dishes that “inspire total devotion” include the ka nom jeep app with delicate wonton wrappers that “almost melt in your mouth,” and the green curry chicken. But “the greatest pleasures on the 55-item menu — yes, 55, virtually everything prepped, cooked and plated by [chef and owner Daovone] Southammavong herself — are almost all Lao dishes.” He suggests going with the Lao sausage, siin haeng (strips of sun-dried beef spiked with ginger and lemon grass), and the khaopoon, a “complex” rice vermicelli soup with red curry paste and coconut milk with vegetables.

Taco Bamba

Northern Virginia Magazine restaurant critic and dining editor Stefanie Gans visits the third iteration of Taco Bamba, aka the “casual, fun” taco shop from chef Victor Albisu that sits across Interstate 95 from the Springfield Town Center. She’s all about the Ricky Bobby with its “lusty brisket suadero,” and the arabe on fluffy pita. While most of the mentioned the bites are “tidy and small” enough to keep moving around the mall, she warns of the “gut bomb” Torta Bamba — a meat-filled order that’s enough to “feed a whole family,” she writes. Another warning: the space is loud.

Ranking America’s top 10 chain restaurants

Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema does an end-of-year deep dive focused on ranking 10 familiar chain eateries. The results range wildly from a straight-up “F” for Buffalo Wild Wings, and a “D” for Outback Steakhouse with its “pretend notion of what’s cooking Down Under” to an “A” for Cracker Barrel. “No other chain restaurant in my months-long survey comes as close to home cooking as this operation,” he says of the Southern-themed charmer.

FROM THE BLOGS: Various food writers based in D.C. — including Eater DC’s Tierney Plumb — this week tell BYT about the highs and lows of the restaurant world this year, while Hungry Lobbyist feasts on Italian food at Aperto and Rick Eats DC checks out newcomer Maydan.

Taco Bamba

4000 Wilson Boulevard, , VA 22203 (571) 777-1477 Visit Website

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