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Posted at 3:07 PM ET, 04/ 9/2009

Thailand and Greece: A Winning Combination

By Julia Beizer

Okay, it's true. These two countries don't have much in common. Have beaches, great for travel. That's about it. But on Monday, local Thai restaurants and Greek powerhouse Zaytinya both kick off events that give you, the dining public, the chance to try a few new dishes -- some at a discounted rate. And seriously, who could argue with that.

Next week is a good week to enjoy Thai food at places like Asia Nine. (Leah L. Jones for The Washington Post)

The second annual Thai Restaurant Week runs from Monday, April 13, until Friday, April 19, celebrating Songkran (the Thai New Year) with discounts for customers. Don't expect some super-structured event like other Restaurant Weeks you might know. Thai Restaurant Week, orchestrated by the Thai Royal Embassy, is much more free-form.

Take Born in Vienna. The Thai restaurant will offer a three-course dinner menu for $17 (the price also includes a glass of wine) from April 13 until April 19. At lunch, diners get an entree and appetizer from the special lunch menu in addition to soup and a salad for only $8. Don't like anything off the special menus? No problem. The restaurant is also offering discounts on its regular menu.

Asia Nine's take on Thai Restaurant Week isn't all about the discounts. Instead, the restaurant focuses on a special menu meant to represent the renewing elements of the New Year festival. Options include the Buddha Blessing Shrimp with Plum Sauce appetizer and the North-Eastern Thai Grilled Herb Chicken, Papaya Salad, and Sticky Rice entree. Prices range from $8 to $23; the regular menu is available as well.

Bangkok Joe's is also going the special-menu route. Meang-Kum, one of the special appetizers, is made of shrimp, toasted coconut, ginger, shallots, roasted peanuts, lime and Thai pepper, served on collard green. The Kao Soi Noodle entree is bathed in curry, coconut milk and shrimp. Appetizers on that menu range from $6.95 to $7.95; entrees, from $14.95 to $21.95. As it does every year during Thai New Year, the restaurant will invite guests to participate in a Songkran ritual that involves pouring water over statues of Buddha.

Rockville's Thai Pavilion will be offering 10 percent off the regular menu during lunchtime. Want to get that discount? Be sure to print out a copy of this coupon (PDF) from the embassy's site. In addition, the chef has designed a special menu for the week including items like honey-ginger duck and panang salmon (priced between $13.95 and $19.95). It will be available during both lunch and dinner.

The PR firm representing the Thai Royal Embassy in all of this tells me that diners at any of the restaurants will get to fill out survey cards to be entered into a drawing for $50 gift certificates and a grand prize of a five-day trip for two to Thailand. I also hear that you do not have to print out the coupon linked to above -- just have to mention Thai Restaurant Week when you order -- but after calling around to a few places over the last few days, I got the sense that not all the restaurants knew that. It seems that discounts vary from place to place and are subject to change.

My take on Thai Restaurant Week is this: If you like Thai food and one of your favorite spots happens to be on this list, you should go next week. You'll probably get a deal; you might get to try a new dish and you may even win a trip to Thailand.

In other food-fest news, Zaytinya kicks off its Greek Easter celebration on Monday. Diners who visit before the festival's end on April 26 will be able to order special Greek Easter-themed items like crispy lamb sweetbreads and spring lamb stew ($9-$12) and larger items like rack of lamb. The restaurant will offer two special $10 cocktails (including one, the Thalia, with grape vodka, lime syrup, limoncello and a sour cherry reduction) and a special Easter bread. A four-course dinner -- complete with wine pairings -- takes place on Wednesday, April 22.

Most exciting to me about this year's fest is the addition of an outdoor lamb sandwich station. Between noon and 2:30 p.m. on days with good weather, the restaurant will sell roasted lamb (with pita, tzatziki and pickled onions) for $7. Get a preview at the Dupont FreshFarm Market this Sunday, April 12. The Zaytinya folks will be handing out lamb carved from a spit.

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  | April 9, 2009; 3:07 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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You say Thai Restaurant Week is from Monday, April 13 to Friday, April 19 - do you mean Friday, April 17 or Sunday, April 19? Trying to plan - thanks!

Posted by: sandrags | April 14, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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