March 25, 2010 by MrBlueSkies
Thai Basil Serves Up A Bounty of Flavors and Textures at Prices That Please
I’ve been a fan of Thai food ever since I ate at a Thai restaurant in Chicago on a business trip many moons ago. Prior to that, I was always afraid of Thai food because I hated curry ever since I accidentally ate curried goat at one of those Philly Fun Day Festivals that the city used to hold in the late 80s. Blah. But a co-worker set me straight about curry. There’s more than one curry and each has its of unique flavor. There’s red, green, yellow, Panang, Massaman, & Khing. My favorite is the green curry.
Linda has had moderate experience with Thai and has always wanted to broaden her horizons. I’ve been eying up Thai Basil in Collingswood for some time now so when Linda didn’t want to cook dinner tonight, I decided we should give it a whirl. And we sure were glad we did.
Collingswood has become THE place for foodies and hungry diners alike and Thai Basil is a perfect addition. The decor is warm and inviting, filled with earth tones and dark wood. Tables line one side of the restaurant with unique booths that alternate between square and round on the right. A large mirror helps to make the restaurant seem larger than it is…
The restaurant only had a few diners in it when we arrived. We were quickly seated and presented with menus. The menu is simple and divided into sections of Traditional Thai Platters, Meals in a Bowl, and Noodles. Most meals are described separately and you add your choice of tofu, chicken, beef, shrimp, or mock duck. Prices are extremely reasonable ranging from $9.95 – $13.95 for most meals. The evening’s specials were slightly higher, ranging from $13.95 to $19.95.
We decided to start off with a crab and pork dumpling appetizer served with a hoisin sauce ($6.95) and a bowl of Vegetable Tom Kha Soup ($3.95). The dumplings were nicely cooked and the hoisin sauce was outstanding. It was tasty but nothing special. The Thom Kha Soup, however, was absolutely amazing and a vegetarian’s delight. (Do you hear that Taylor? There is a reason for you to come to Collingswood.) Comprised of coconut milk, red pepper, sliced galangal root, mushrooms, cabbage, lime juice, tofu, and cilantro. An explosion of sweet and sour tastes danced across our tongues–the coconut milk, cilantro, and lime all worked together in this magical delight of a soup. When we finished our meal, we decided this was our favorite dish.
Linda never had Pad Thai but has heard so much about this classic dish that she just had to give it a try. Opting for beef ($11.95), the dish arrived steaming hot with some bamboo shoots and crushed nuts sectioned off on the plate. Digging in, Linda loved the flavors and being able to add the nuts as she went along. I had quite a few bites and although it was a tad bit sweeter than most pad Thais I’ve had, the flavors were still wonderful and worked well together.
I love green curry. I LOVE GREEN CURRY. Have I told you that I love green curry? Anyway, I went for the Traditional Thai Green Curry dish with tofu ($9.95). This dish consisted of green curry paste, green bean, bell pepper and sweet fresh basil in Thai coconut milk served with a side of Jasmine rice. The tofu was lightly fried, giving it a delicately toasted texture that added a wonderful extra dimension to the dish. This is the green curry I love so much, sweet and flavorful with a hint of heat that slowly builds up to a warming effect in your mouth and throat. As much as Linda enjoyed her pad Thai, she was blown away from the flavors in this dish. A runner-up to the soup, this was another home run.
We couldn’t finish our meals and asked our server to bring us some containers to take home the left-overs. About thirty seconds after we were given the to-go containers, the server returned with the check. I chuckled a little as I mentioned to Linda that it was a good thing we weren’t ordering desert. A truly small snafu in what was a truly memorable meal.
If you love Thai food or have been curious about Thai food and weren’t sure where to go, Thai Basil is the right choice. Excellent food, reasonable prices, and a comfortable atmosphere adds up to a dining experience that’s well spent without having to spend a lot. Thai Basil is located at 653 Haddon Avenue in Collingswood. For more information, visit their website at thaibasilatcollingswood.com or call them at 856-833-0098. Although Thai Basil doesn’t deliver, they do a brisk take-out business.