Muttika Setapayak began her career as a teacher in Thailand, and later moved to America to study business administration. She dreamed of bringing her family together in America. Her love of cooking and her strong bonds to her family and her native Thai culture led her to open the doors of her new restaurant, Thai Luang, on November 1, 1991.
Thai Luang served its first dinner with Muttika’s mother, two brothers and sister by her side helping her work. Buddhist priests were present to bless the restaurant in a traditional Thai ceremony. 1991 was a difficult year to start a new business due to the recession, but through hard work and perseverance, the family learned the business and, backed by an outstanding menu, established a reputation as one of the best Thai restaurants in the community.
Muttika puts her heart and soul into the restaurant, exploring and creating new and flavorful dishes. Muttika grows many of the authentic Thai spices she uses in her restaurant, such as lemongrass, and Thai chili. Once she perfects a dish, she directs the Chef and offers it on her menu. The food is authentic Thai food so customers get the complete Thai experience. Her desire is to make customers feel like they are in Bangkok, Thailand. She maintains her restaurant like the Thai culture, with royal Thai artwork to add to the atmosphere. The waitstaff wears traditional Thai costumes.
Fresh vegetables and fresh meats are the basis of all the dishes. Every meal is prepared individually and fresh, without using much sugar or oil, to bring out the natural, light flavors of the dishes.
Crispy Duck is the heart and soul of Thai Luang. It is the main ingredient in Crispy Duck with Sweet Basil and Duck Noodle Soup. The duck is prepared by boiling it until it is fully cooked, then de-boning it and marinating it overnight in Thai Luang’s special sauce. When an order is placed, the duck is cooked and seasoned according to the menu choice and taste. Thai Luang proudly guarantees that you will not find a crispier, tastier duck anywhere else.
The most popular appetizer at Thai Luang is Thai Dumplings (Ka-Noom Jeep). It is prepared using a special secret Thai marinade for the meat, along with a wonderfully perfected sauce. (The sauce became so popular that it is now available from Thai Luang in bottles!)
Another favorite appetizer is Crying Tiger. Flank steak is cooked to medium doneness, sliced into strips and served with a delicious crying tiger sauce. The sauce is simple and spicy, with rice powder, dry chili and fish sauce, garnished with spring onion and cilantro.
A favorite appetizer among children is the Chicken Satay—probably because it is served on a stick. The chicken is marinated in curry powder, coconut milk, white pepper, fish sauce and special Thai herbs. It is quickly fried for tenderness and served with a delicious and colorful peanut dipping sauce.
Thai Luang’s most popular salad is Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum), prepared using a genuine recipe perfected in the eastern part of Thailand. It features a hand-mixed blend of green papaya, fresh chili, garlic and tomato. Also popular is the light and tasty Thai Salad, which features a dressing made with fish sauce and dried shrimp.
The noodle dish “Pad Thai” is everyone’s favorite. Rice noodles are combined with bean sprouts, spring onion and shrimp along with a great sauce. Dry chili is added to desired spice level.
Muttika’s philosophy for her restaurant is “Good food and good service, at a reasonable price.” When you walk into her restaurant she wants you to feel as though you are a guest in her home. She wants you to experience her wonderful Thai kitchen, where she can treat you to authentic Thai food, Thai dress and Thai hospitality. She puts her heart and soul into providing her guests with the best Thai food in the Washington, D.C. area.