A restaurant bombshell has struck the decorous town of Vienna, and its name is Red Galanga. For Asian foodies, the word “galanga” (or “galangal”) has instant recognition: a root cousin of ginger, used often in Southeast Asian recipes. Its pronounced yet slightly gingery flavor adds great cheer to a host of dishes, and may be grated, sliced, diced, ground, or even left whole and fried. So, one might wonder, how does something like this turn up as a restaurant name? Note: the owners also call it “modern Asian.”
The clever owner (s) have assembled a setting to showcase the brilliant creations of its chefs, who have captured a diverse array of aromas and tastes in the menu that showcases both Japanese, Thai, (and at least one Singaporean dish) cuisines—but with a slightly modern twist. For example, Thai red duck curry is generally cubed duck meat in a coconut milk-rich curry. Here: it’s called “duck confit.”
The main problem is that so many dishes beckon, how to choose, you may wonder. As starters, you can’t go wrong with the Tom Yum crispy calamari, a pile of deep-fried calamari slices sweetened and heated with dabs of a Thai sweet-sticky sauce. The Asian tacos include spiced tuna, spiced salmon, or spiced chicken, wrapped up in crispy (almost too crunchy) fried corn tortillas. Though crunchy, these tacos are an interesting kickoff to an Asian meal. And then, if you are really experimental, you can begin lunch or dinner with an order of fried frog legs that have been marinated in spices—a bit unusual for an Asian restaurant.
Choosing entrées can take you from a Japanese bento box filled with sushi and sashimi or with shrimp and vegetable tempura paired with salmon teriyaki, plus other options. But if your tastes take you to spicier eats, to Thailand, you cannot miss the Massaman beef curry, a Southern Thai specialty wrought here to perfection. You would agree if you have traveled to that part of Thailand, and chances are, that will become your go-to main course at this restaurant.
On the other hand, a lunch entrée can be simpler and smaller, especially if your job calls for afternoon hours. In that case, one of the all-rice or all-noodle dishes are great choices: nasi goreng (Malaysian rice dish), shrimp pad Thai, and the very popular Drunken Noodles all rate thumbs up. But for tamer flavors, scan the Japanese parts of the menu with choices of sushi, sashimi, and Japanese noodles dishes.
Besides the seductive flavors, the colorful décor, and the roomy dining areas, Red Galanga excels with its courteous, prompt service, an element that may be lacking at other restaurants. So to the owners of this interesting and daring enterprise: three cheers!
Red Galanga, 144 Church St., NW, Vienna. Phone: 703-865-4996. Hours: lunch and dinner daily. www.RedGalangaVienna.com.