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Concept Closeup: Tom Yum District – The “Chipotle” for Thai

Chef Aulie Bunyaratapan and Restaurateur Mel Oursinsiri opened Tom Yum District this summer in Arlington, Va.

Tom-Yum-DistrictThe quick-serve restaurant by the husband-and-wife duo behind Bangkok Joe's in Georgetown and T.H.A.I in Shirlington, features customizable, made-to-order rice and noodle bowls based on traditional Thai flavors served in a modern way with a focus on speed, convenience and simplicity. Guests choose from 4 bases (rice, noodles, etc.), 4 grilled proteins (beef, organic tofu, etc.), 5 sauces and 10 toppings — including Tom Yum's signature chili paste, green Sriracha sauce and other house made marinades and sauces designed to be mixed and matched to create countless menu combinations. The open kitchen design allows guests to see staff cook their meals on a traditional stir-fry wok or plancha.

 The 49-seat restaurant features modern lines with dark and light woods, exposed drop lighting, cast concrete and raw metal set off by accents of magenta and yellow, two prominent Thai colors. A geometric mural of black and white original photos depicts Thai imagery, while textured architectural elements inspired by Thai carvings create an East-meets-West feel. Environmentally friendly materials include chairs made of recycled Coke bottles and specialty water faucets designed to reduce usage.