Saturday, March 31, 2007

basil thai

wok-fried catfish and sticky rice. photo by janel

following the allagash + chocolate event at city beer store on thursday night (read allagash + chocolate posting), janel and i went across the street to basil thai. she said she went there once with ellie once and thought it wasn't bad. since we were hungry-ish (and probably lazy to walk anywhere else), we gave it a shot.

as you walk into basil thai, you notice the modestly light contemporary decor, reminding me of those 'cool hip' restaurants opening during the dot-com era (yes, i was once a dot-commie). basil thai opened around the height of the SOMA rebirth and death of the dot-com... yet it remains unlike it's many cohorts. we were seated at the back end of the restaurant next to a large party. the second thing you were notice is the noise level. it's loud. it was hard to hear janel but don't worry, i was listening.

their menu was big and very thai. "there's more to the menu?!" said a surprised janel. it's more gourmet than your usual small local thai places. apparently the kitchen was closing in fifteen minutes after we were seated. and our waiter was kindly rushing us to order (mean really really kind "i'm so sorry to rush you" bowing kind). we shared an order of pla-doo pad-pik (wok-fried catfish in red curry and peppercorns), pak rad kang (various vegetables in green curry), jasmine rice and sticky rice.

in the middle of a great conversation, dinner arrives. we pause. you can smell the thai curries. the rice plates were smaller than we imagine. the sticky rice was in a small ball and looking dry. no doubt that sticky rice is the leftovers from the night. remember we were eating when the kitchen was closing. although the lighting was yellowish dim, the color from the plates strikes you — reds, greens, yellows. "there's bell peppers!" warns janel. i hate bell peppers. red bell peppers are fine and i'll eat them but green, eck! i hate that raw grass taste.

the wok-fried catfish was crispy and covered in a beautiful red curry sauce. janel pointed out the peppercorns. there's a nice spicy peppery hotness to the catfish. the eggplant in the dish soothes the heat while it absorbed the surrounding flavors. that's one thing cool about eggplant... it takes in the flavors well while it has no 'real' distinctive taste of its own. the vegetable curries was also good, filled with eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and sigh, bell peppers. the creamy green curry was nicely done to satisfy that thai craving without being runny and thin like bad thai places. it was a nice mixed with the spiciness of the catfish dish.

the night was getting late (11:45p). we finished a good portion of our dishes but not all of it. the service was polite but it's obvious that they wanted us out to close the place down. the restaurant crew were around the bar eating. we weren't the last two in the place... there's a party of four at the front end who were loud and deeply planted in their seats. after the third time, we've asked if we wanted to pack the dinner... we let them. i wish we were there a bit earlier because i wanted to see their dessert menu. but i bet it's pretty standard thai items. definitely a place to go for great thai food after some beers at city beer store. food: A-/B+ service: B+/A-

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