Basil Thai Cuisine

Categories: Asian, Casual, Eat-in
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Comments: 1 Comment
Published on: June 30, 2008

Basil Thai is a small little place tucked back in the corner of 3 Rivers Plaza in Phoenix. Usually lots of parking, unless you get there late and the bar down the plaza is hopping. The location has been a succession of pizza joints in the past, and the seating remains the same – faux wood laminated “uni-booths” plus a couple tables.

There’s seating for approx 20 adults.

The place is owned by Pong and his wife, both of whom work in the kitchen and out on the floor. Most weekend evenings, you’ll find their son and daughter serving and bussing as well.

The menu has a fairly long list of appetizers, a couple soups and 3 or 4 salads. There are also a number of stir-fry rice dishes, several dishes based on wide noodles, and a small number of fish dishes. The rest of the entrees are curries. Anything can be ordered mild, medium or hot. Already a fan of burn-you-twice food? Order your entree “Thai hot” or ask for chili powder or sauce on the side.

The atmosphere is not “haute cuisine” but is comfortable for singles, couples and families. They have a couple small tables they can push together if you’ve got 8 or so hearty souls who want to trek to Phoenix for Thai food. And you really, really should go. Pong remembers almost every face, and will greet you by name if you’ve been in more than a couple times.

Because there are only the two of them behind the counter, depending on how many customers they have and what needs cooking, it may take several minutes to get your order. Your patience will be rewarded.

On a recent night, my wife (who grew up in NYC and is a fiend for top-shelf Thai food) got her usual spring roll – an extremely fresh mix of lettuce and cilantro, rolled up with a hunk of pork and a small shrimp and tucked inside the thin, rubbery square of rice paper. These rolls are crunchy, springy and the meats compliment the freshly-rinsed greens. We shared an order of satay as an appetizer as well. These are strips of white chicken, covered with yellow curry and skewered with bamboo rods. These are served with a plate of thick peanut sauce for dipping. This is probably the least flavorful appetizer they carry, and I still think it’s pretty good.

I had N5 – a huge bowl of soup based on rice noodles. I ordered it medium heat, with chicken, and that’s exactly how it came. The noodles were done just right – not too hard, and not falling into mush. I was worried by the chili sauce I saw on top of the dish, but after I mixed it into the broth filled with broccoli and carrots, it gave the whole dish a nice bit of heat, without it being inedible. All the other flavors were there as well. I wound up spooning up the last of the broth for a spicy finish.

My wife had P11 “Thai hot” with tofu (most dishes come with your choice of protein) – it looked like a yellow curry. I didn’t try it, but she loved it. All the curries are served in a bowl, with another “bowl” of rice inverted on a separate plate, so you can mix to your taste. She said the heat was there, but didn’t overpower the contibutions by the veggies and other elements of the sauce.

They do offer dessert – thai custard or ice cream – but neither one of us indulged.

Bathrooms are in the back, and are fairly clean, although you can see the years of wear and tear.

One final mention are the beverages: I am addicted to the Thai iced tea, which is based on a “tea syrup” they import from Thailand. There’s also the iced coffee, which is like drinking an espresso milkshake. And my wife is hooked on the jasmine hot tea they serve in little steeping pots.

If your ideal is wait staff who hover over you, you’ll be disappointed. True, someone will check with you part way through your meal to make sure it’s all right. But when you’re done, you must go to the counter for your check. The family doesn’t presume to know when you’re done – very much like traditional restaurants in Europe that way.

With apps, two entrees and drinks, we spent about $35 before tip.

It’s definitely worth the trip, in my book.


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  1. Lee says:

    Definitely an accurate review. Though I recommend you go again – looks like this review was from over 2 years ago. If anything the food has improved and speed of service has too. The owners are awesome people … and the bar down the plaza has closed so plenty of parking!

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