Having Fun with Your Food at Sisters Thai

Had Tammie Disayawathana become an interior designer, she would have been very successful. Lucky for us, she became a restaurateur instead. Disayawathana just opened her second restaurant in Fairfax County. The first was Sisters Thai, A Living Room Cafe, in Old Town Fairfax—a cult favorite among the locals. Stop in, anytime, day or night, and you’ll find nearly every table full in this cozy townhouse. Now she’s debuted her second location, this time, in the buzzy Mosaic District. Her second location is more spacious, but equally intriguing.

“My husband designed the décor,” explains Disayawathana about Jaturon Srirote’s unique sensibility. “He always has many ideas in his head; he always thinks differently. That’s why the restaurant is ‘us.’” When she says ‘us,’ she means a quirky collection of art, antiques, murals, super hero figurines, soft upholstered chairs, empty bottles of perfume, funky signs and an enormous bookcase full of real books; creating scenes that are endlessly interesting in every direction you turn, even the bathrooms.

Although the décor is stimulating, it’s also welcoming. Here, the service matches the style—friendly and upbeat. Disayawathana says she has hired her own friends to work here, and then friends of friends: “I put in the restaurant what I like. I wanted people like me, people who understand the way I think. I work in all the departments myself. So, the customers feel like they’re eating at a friend’s house.”


Disayawathana comes from a long line of excellent cooks. Back in Thailand, her family was known for their recipes. She and her husband worked in other restaurants, until, as she says, they “got the opportunity” to open their own. “We started the first one when my daughter was one-year-old. I wanted to be with her as much as I can; not work regular {business} hours,” says Disayawathana. “I also wanted a homey atmosphere so I could be with her here.” In addition to her husband and daughter, the team at Sisters Thai includes other family members: “My uncle is our chef. I knew him my whole life. He makes it very easy for me and my husband to work in the front of the restaurant while he’s in kitchen.”

Chef Moo, as he’s known, (his real name is Prasert Limsumanc) prepares food that is authentically Thai. Every dish has some heat, often from colorful sauces. Besides bursting with potent flavors, the dishes are balanced and attractive to the eye. At the Mosaic location, Limsumanc has more room in the kitchen and has added several “Chef’s Recommendations” inspired by the season. For example, the current menu lists seasonal soft shell crabs, accompanied by broccoli, cabbage and snow peas, with a ginger chili sauce for dipping. The crab is upright, literally split in two, and standing on its legs like it’s walking—just another way Sisters Thai incorporates whimsy into the dining experience.

Some standouts on the menu are labeled Thai Street Food. Chicken Festival is the original dish that inspired Sisters Thai in the first place. Disayawathana prepared these grilled chicken skewers at a few events, and they were extremely popular. Now in her restaurant, she serves the same chicken skewers with a choice of Low Mein or fried rice on the side. “You’re not going to see this in most Thai restaurants,” Disayawathana notes. Another favorite dish is the Khao Soi, chicken egg noodles in red curry. This northern Thai dish might be among the specials at some restaurants, but at Sisters Thai in the Mosaic District, you can order it anytime.

On the appetizer list, the Roti Green Curry is enchanting—a bowl of creamy chicken curry served with eight pieces of delicate Indian flatbread. The stinging hot curry is powered with fresh herbs and peppers. Spoon some curry onto the flatbread, and eat it like a taco.


Disayawathana recommends the Num Tok, a steak salad, which in Thai means waterfall (juices of the barbequed steak drip into the charcoal, hence the name). Served over lettuce, with slices of red onion and fresh cilantro, the dish is brightened by zesty lime dressing. For an entrée, try Chef Moo’s signature Crispy Duck Curry—a fiery combination of crunchy slices of duck, jalapenos, pineapple and red pepper—in a silky curry sauce cooled with a hint of coconut milk. The contrast between the sweet pineapple and blazing jalapeno adds a pleasant jolt to the dish.   


Sisters Thai in Mosaic features a coffee and dessert bar, with handmade smoothies, cakes and cookies. “Our food is spicy Thai, but we also feature homemade desserts,” explains Disayawathana. “All the desserts we make here. They’re not too sweet.” The coconut cake I sampled was topped with shredded coconut meat over fluffy short cake and coconut-infused whipped cream. This confection is less about sweet, and more about the scented flavor of the tropics.


Sisters Thai has different seating areas depending on your mood. Hang out in the sunny bakery, or find a quiet table in the alcove overlooking a vivid mural of the Washington Monument. Choose to perch at the bar, or dine outside on the patio. There is so much to see while you wait for your food. “What I learned in my first restaurant is to create the kind of place you can come to any time. It’s time to eat, but you’re also looking for a very enjoyable atmosphere when you come in.” That’s why, she explains, there are books on the shelves—to remind you of school, and a movie theatre sign—because, she says, people love to go to the movies. Although some may disagree about “the pleasantness” of school, Disayawathana is certainly fond of it, and about learning and life in general.

“We always dreamed about having a restaurant; so I followed my dream,” she laughs. “We hope at this location we will be successful. At Sisters Thai, people know what to expect; we are going to sell you good food, in a fun atmosphere.”

You’ll definitely come away from this restaurant with some new memories, not just of a great food, but also a good time.

Share this Post!

Related post