Address: 7200 Telegraph Square Drive, Suite U, Lorton, VA 22079
It was a little while back that I was on Yelp browsing through some Thai restaurants in the area. My usual go-to spot for Thai food is Rice & Noodles, but I’m always up for branching out to see what else there is. ThaiBox caught my eye as one of the more popular and high-rated Thai restaurants in the area, so I decided to have a look at its restaurant page. To my surprise, I found out that ThaiBox is located a few storefronts down from Ginger Beef, a restaurant where at work we order out sesame chicken almost every Friday. This place was hiding under my very nose the entire time!
Their menu spans across both Thai and cajun styles of food, with some dishes blending them together. The fusion concept intrigued me, so last night I met up with my friends Chris and Sidney for some dinner there. Tucked away amidst industrial office parks, ThaiBox was certainly nicer inside than the more austere brick exterior. There is a rather small dining area that can seat, at maximum, maybe about 20 people; it was pretty quiet when we sat down to eat.
Right from the get-go, you could tell that the restaurant manager, Sandy, is very attentive to customers. When it seemed like we were on-the-fence about what to order, she asked us about what each of us was in the mood to eat and made recommendations based off of that. It was funny to see on the menu that Pad Thai could be at one spot and then a few lines down you’d see pasta jambalaya or a catfish po-boy!
In the end, I decided to brave the Red Curry Jerk Chicken, even after reading numerous things about how spicy it is. On their spice scale, the dish is normally Level 10, but I wanted to play it safe and dial it back to a Level 8. Even after dropping a few levels in heat, it was certainly enough to still pack a punch.
I have to say, the one thing that I am impressed about was just how well this dish walked that fine line between spicy and flavorful. Sometimes when you hear about something being really spicy, the heat will completely overpower everything and just leave your mouth numb. Not the Red Curry Jerk Chicken. Two breaded chicken breasts are fried and put over a bed of white rice, with the red curry sauce poured over top. The first bite gives you the rich flavors from the curry, and the heat from the red peppers will kick in after you let it settle a few seconds later. But with every subsequent bite, even though the inferno continues to build in your mouth, the rich flavors are still present, which makes it a really excellent dish to enjoy. I only had the Spice Level 8 for the dish, which alone made me tear up a few bites in, but I’ve heard that for their food challenge, they will take the dish and kick it up to Level 25. I could not even imagine what that first bite would be like.
Yesterday night was also the first time that I tried crawfish, cooked two ways: the popcorn crawfish appetizer and the sautéed cajun crawfish that was served with Chris’s dish, the blackened tilapia. Both styles were delicious, but I think I appreciated the sautéed version better, where I could get more of the taste of the crawfish. After our entrées, we ordered some rum raisin bread pudding to try, which also did not disappoint. It was rich in flavor, not too sweet, and very moist. Sandy mentioned they added in extra rum to give it the flavor; I certainly wasn’t complaining.
It’s restaurants like this that I started my blog to find: small places tucked away that might not look like much from the outside, but serve some awesome food that will keep you going back for more. I know for a fact that I will be a return customer to try their other delicious-sounding dishes in the future.
Let’s now take a look at the Thaibox Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
Cajun Popcorn Crawfish
Battered crawfish meat served with a cajun mayo on the side.
** Red Curry Jerk Chicken **
Shown here at Spice Level 8, but it can go all the way up to Level 25 (!), where they put habañeros in the sauce.
** Crawfish Jambalaya **
A fantastic mix of chicken, fried crawfish, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and Andouille sausage, immersed in a cajun Jambalaya butter sauce and served over a bed of garlic rice. Absolutely amazing.
Popcorn Crawfish Pad Thai
Flat rice noodles cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce, topped with popcorn crawfish, bean sprouts, and extra peanuts.
** Curry Chicken Bombay **
Two fried chicken breasts smothered with a yellow curry butter sauce, topped with scallions, crispy noodle straws, and served over a bed of rice.
** Chicken Chipotle **
Fried chicken chunks smothered in a basil pepper lemon cream sauce, with sautéed peppers and onions, served with a bed of white rice.
** Rum Raisin Bread Pudding **
A great finisher to the meal (if you’re already stuffed). Spongy, moist, and rich in flavor.
And finally, here are my rankings for ThaiBox:
Food: 5 / 5
The Thai/cajun fusion concept was right up my alley and I really enjoyed everything that I tried. The food tasted great, had bold flavors, and the heat wasn’t too overpowering. There is also a wide variety of other dishes to choose from, all of which sound very good as well.
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
With the small dining area, I imagine that it might start to get a bit noisy when it’s crowded. But the area was nicely laid out that we didn’t feel packed in like a can of sardines. The walls were nicely decorated with some artwork; I would definitely say the restaurant management certainly made the best with the space they have.
Service: 5 / 5
Sandy was extremely friendly and very accommodating to us throughout the meal. Like I mentioned above, you could tell that she is very attentive to customers and what they want for their meal. She made sure that we had everything we wanted and that the food was to our satisfaction. She even suggested things to try for the next time we stopped by. Smart move!
Price: 4.5 / 5
I think the pricing on the food was very solid. I certainly felt like the $12 I paid for my Red Curry Jerk Chicken dish was well spent and left me feeling very satisfied with how much food I got. The pricing on the other dishes also looked very reasonable as well.