Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Monday, September 28, 2015

Busara Thai Cuisine - McLean, VA

8143 Watson Street
McLean, VA 22102
Tel: (703) 356-0056

We've been driving past Busara for about a dozen years now, planning to eat there at some point. We've heard positive feedback from everyone we know who has eaten there. So, finally, this summer, we convened a group of about 10 friends and ventured to Busara!

Those of us, who love Thai food, have a saying that "there is no such thing as bad Thai food." And that is true of Busara, as well.  We most certainly had a great meal overall. The service was cheerful and efficient; the menu is standard with a half a dozen Daily Specials listed on an announcement board at the entrance; everyone enjoyed the food. But, as it is with anything in life, the most important thing about a dinner is the company! To this end, we had great conversation and lots of laughs over wine and food we enjoy. We could have easily had the same nice experience in any of the dozens of wonderful Thai restaurants in this area, which is to say that there wasn't anything that really stood out about Busara.

Below, we've listed most of the food we enjoyed at Busara along with photographs.

Most of the restaurants we review are either your basic ethnic dives or small Mom-and-Pop spots, so they rarely have the luxury of time to engage in social media or any interenet presence at all.  Their default approach to longevity is food excellence and a reliance on word-of-mouth and media, including food bloggers, like us. Of utmost importance is real estate - location, location, location.

Busara seems to be half-hearted in its online presence: It has a website, which is difficult to find - it doesn't come up on a google search!, and a Facebook page that has been inactive since September 2014, over a year. A simple google search produced nothing on the first page that actually led directly to this restaurant, but rather the typical popular review sites, like yelp, trip adviser, opentable, and a menu hosted on a third party site. Surprisingly, the menu that the restaurant itself provides at its host stand, and we picked up after dinner there in July, provides a website address that is actually wrong!

On occasion, such as this, when there is little information readily available online about a restaurant we are reviewing, we reach out directly to the manager / owner, let them know that we are reviewing their restaurant and ask them to kindly provide us with additional details to include in the review for our audience / the restaurant's customers.  This is exactly what we did with Busara, with some surprising results.

We easily got a hold of the manager, but whereas usually the restaurant is happy to speak with us, even briefly, in Busara's case, the manager, who did not identify himself, was quite curt and unfriendly, seemingly not interested in publicity. It is quite rare for us to experience what seemed to be almost an attempt by a restaurant manager to drive away interest.

The manager told us that there indeed is a website - www.busara.co (not busara.com, as listed on the restaurant's literature).  We informed him that - fyi - for some reason it doesn't come up on a Google search, he responded, that's because we don't use google. Huh? The website itself is actually quite snazzy, so it's a shame that it is so challenging to find. On the website itself, all social media icons are disabled!

In any case, we will not spend more time writing about a restaurant that doesn't seem to be interested in being written about.  We will say that it has a great location (perhaps the key to its success) just steps away from Tysons Mall, next to the famous landmark event destination J.R.'s Stockyards Inn, likely with a dedicated clientele among the numerous businesses in the area. It has a large parking lot, convenient for meeting for lunch or dinner.  Busara has been in this location for 20 years, which is a great achievement, and has another location at Reston Town Center open for 15 years, which we have not visited.  It has nice modern decor and a pleasant atmosphere with light background music.

Would we seek out Busara next time we want to have Thai food? Doubt it. We would rather go to Rabieng, Tara Thai, Bangkok Golden or any of the endless Thai options available in this area. However, in the Tysons area, for people who opt for the more "upscale ethnic dives," Busara is quite a good choice.

 Distinctive entrance from the restaurant's parking lot

 Specials are listed as you enter the restaurant, with a view toward two smaller dining rooms with large windows

 Two bright side rooms allow for the feel of a smaller restaurant and are light-filled

 Modern and spacious main dining room, great for business meetings, dates, family meals, or large groups.

Duck Rolls Appetizer - Roasted duck, green onion, cucumber wrapped in a thin spring roll skin and deep fried with a sweet sauce $7.50

 Crispy Springrolls Appetizer - Cellophane noodles, cabbage, carrots, celery and Hu-Nu mushrooms served in chef's special sauce $5.95

 Papaya Salad Appetizer - julienned green papaya, roasted peanuts, string beans and tomato mixed in a spicy lime dressing $6.95

 Soft Spring Rolls - Steamed rice flour rolls stuffed with crabmeat, port, egg and vegetables served in chef's special sauce $5.95

 Gai Sapp Kapow - Minced chicken sauteed with basil leaves, chili and garlic over jasmine rice $10.95 - for a nice twist, ASK FOR A COUPLE FRIED EGGS with this (or any!) dish

Shrimp Bikini Appetizer - Black tiger shrimp wrapped in a thin spring roll skin and deep fried, served with delicious sauce $6.95 

 A chicken curry dish, can't recall exactly which one at the time of writing this blog, but it was great, like all the other food at Busara

 Pattaya Seafood - Shrimp, squid and scallops sauteed in a roasted chili sauce with scallions, onion, mushroom and sweet basil leaves $15.95

 Spicy Garden Vegetarian Entree - Sauteed mixed fresh veggies in a spicy bean sauce $10.95

 Pad Woon Sen - Cellophane noodles stir-fried with shrimp, pork, mushrooms, egg and veggies, served with rice $12.95

Busara Drunken Noodle with Chicken - Sauteed with Basil leaves, chili and garlic, served with rice noodles $12.95

Spicy Seafood Fried Rice - Festival of seafood stir-fried with rice, basil and chili $13.95

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