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“Brilliant marketing, equally great food!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Little Serow

Little Serow
1511 17th St. NW, Washington DC, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)
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Ranked #67 of 2,495 Restaurants in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Cuisines: Thai
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night
Neighborhood: Dupont Circle
Richmond, Virginia
2 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Brilliant marketing, equally great food!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

We arrived about an hour before service on a Saturday night and easily made it for the first seating. Standing in line was actually fairly entertaining between chatting with our fellow obsessives and people watching. It was quite fun to watch people staring at the unmarked door and the line that wound around the block, trying to determine just what in the heck was going on. About half of them would eventually work up the nerve to come ask someone in line to explain just what the heck was going on. I will admit after about the 10th person asked me, I did grow tired of explaining it.

Once seated in the small, dimly lit and loud dining room, everything went quite smoothly. The wait staff were friendly and warm without being annoying and generally provided great service. They were quite patient with our questions about dishes as they were delivered, offered suggestions about how to pair our veggie dish with the plates and stayed on top of keeping our glasses topped off. They had a small, but carefully edited wine list that included a few brilliantly matched Rieslings whose sweetness was a very cooling complement to the intense flavors of the Thai cuisine. We went with an Auslase which I initially feared was too sweet when tasting it alone, but once the heat started to build, it was the perfect match.

The flavors were intense and bold, blending not just heat from the chilis but a lot of intensely sour flavors as well. For me, the standout dishes were the lemongrass soup with mushrooms and pumpkin with the snakehead fish and the crispy rice with the sour pork. The last dish in particular was so intensely flavored that it was a challenge to my tolerance of both sour and chili heat, but I simply couldn't stop eating it. My dinner companion is much less tolerant of hot food than I am, but she ate everything on the menu, although I noticed that she ate very little of the crispy rice and pork. The much-raved over pork ribs were tender and delicately flavored, but not my favorite part of the meal. I think I had become so used to flavors dialed up to 11 that it just seemed a bit underwhelming by that point. Of course, it didn't stop me from happily munching them down.

The volume of food was perfect for me. You don't leave feeling like you will explode on the way out, like so many tasting menus, but neither could I imagine anyone would be hungry. If you are a big eater, you can just load up on balls of sticky rice dunked in the marvelous sauces like a true Thai.

I would be very happy to wait in line to do this again. The food was delicious and the value for the money is mind-boggling. My only quibble with the experience would be that the pacing of the meal was a bit overwhelming -- they brought the dishes out quite rapid-fire, presumably to enable them to turn the tables as quickly as they could to service the line that snaked around the corner. As a result, they got through 8 courses in less than 90 minutes, but the food was so good that I didn't really feel bothered.

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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101 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    71
    19
    5
    3
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Charlottesville, Virginia
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“worth the wait”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

I waited an hour in the freezing rain to be first in line at Little Serow the other night, and I have to say the misery was worth it. The food was vividly flavoured and well-prepared-- the soup, which is so often an afterthought, was better than any I've had in Thailand-- the wines not any more overpriced than everywhere else, and the ambience very pleasant. Everything was outstanding, and for $45 it's one of the best deals in town. Just a couple of caveats-- serving a soup family-style without the option of tiny personal bowls is just silly and irritating; and I found the every-5-minute inquiry about whether we were "still working" oddly pushy for a place that prides itself on great service. But bring a dixie cup and cultivate serenity, and you'll have a near-perfect meal.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
48 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“All the hype is well deserved”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 23, 2013 via mobile

In a city where Thai food has become as boring and predictable as lame Chinese takeout Little Serow stands out. The flavors, aromas, and attention to quality are unparalleled. I've rarely had better service anywhere. The ribs are every bit as great as advertised in other reviews, the snakehead dish was incredible. The decor is fun and while not the most relaxing, this is a great place to go with a (small group of) friends who like culinary adventure.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Amazing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2013

After visiting Komi last year and having an unforgettable experience we heard about Little Serow from a friend. We arrived early but not quite early enough as they took our name and txt us when our table was ready...not a big deal as we just had a few cocktails next door. The food was incredible! Very authentic northern Thai food and the sharing of dished family style really lets you connect more with your friends and experience an amazing meal. Service was on spot just like the food. Worth the wait and very reasonably priced for the amount and quality of food you get. More casual than Komi which is also nice

  • Visited October 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Washington DC, District of Columbia
Senior Contributor
31 reviews 31 reviews
25 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Awesome quality, just found the flavors over done”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 4, 2013 via mobile

I'm not a Northern Thai expert, having only spent about a month in Northern Thailand, but to me the meal was a bit of a caricature. Some of the flavors were exaggerated to the point of making the dishes unbalanced.

The quality of ingredients was excellent (as you would expect), value for money was good and I enjoyed the overall experience.

After reading all the reviews I went there expecting to eat authentic food, the same I had in Thailand (most of the food I eat in Thailand is from street vendors and tiny restaurants that don't cater to tourists). If I had gone in with the expectation of 'an amazing chefs interpretation of Norther Thai food' maybe I would have enjoyed it a little more.

All that said I would recommend that people try it.

    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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