Life in the Fast Lane


Asian Invasion (Part 2): Basil

By 9:30 AM , , , , , , ,

As mentioned in my last entry, my belly was satisfied this weekend. It's rare that I get two enjoy two of my favorite Asian cuisines in one weekend. My Saturday was a ramen adventure at a new ramen joint, Kichitora of Tokyo. Meanwhile, my Sunday lunch with the family was at the relatively new Thai restaurant along the Katipunan Ave. Extension, Basil.

I had heard about Basil for months now, though prior to yesterday, I never had the chance to go there. Parking and location might be an issue for some people as it's located at the corner of Katipunan Ave. Extension and That Street Whose Name I Don't Know Where You Pass To Make A U-Turn to Temple Drive. If you know what I mean. A stone's throw away from Basil is the Mormon Temple along Temple Drive. (I hope that my vague descriptions can give you an idea of where Basil is now.)

We were fortunate, though, that we called in advance to reserve a table and check on the parking situation. When we got there, only one car was parked in its five-car slot.

As soon as we entered the restaurant, I could smell that distinct scent of incense and immediately, I missed Bangkok. The past few years, I would be there at least once a year for work (last year, I was there twice). This year, however, I wasn't able to do any production-related work there, so I do miss that city a whole lot.

The interior lighting was dim, but cozy. Since I wasn't able to bring a nice camera, I didn't get to take pictures of the place. Imagine, though, authentic Thai touches on the flooring, choice of furniture, and over-all vibe. There is also an indoor mini-pond with flowing water, the sound of which relaxes you as you dine.

Being the "fake Thai", as my family calls me (given that I've done a lot of work there), I asked for the menu and immediately ordered the usual suspects: Tom Yum La Tay (no Tom Yum Goong there, but I was fine with that), Phad Thai, Bagoong Rice, and Emerald Chicken (their version of Chicken Pandan). My family added others, though, like Chicken with Cashew Nuts, Spicy Wagyu Beef, and Crispy Fish with Mango Salad.

I didn't get to take a photo of the Tom Yum La Tay since the waiters had served them in individual soup bowls, instead of the usual serving bowl from which everyone just digs in. I loved it. Unlike my usual favorite, Tom Yum Goong, the La Tay soup seemed to be creamier, with what looked like coconut milk. It complemented the spicy flavor from the cilantro, pepper, and other spices.

Then came the Phad Thai. I could immediately taste that familiar sweet, "peanut-y" flavor that I loved and missed. Truly, my senses were immediately whisked away to Thailand with every bite of this dish.

My youngest brother, CJ, asked if we could order the Wagyu Beef. He's into consuming lots of protein now since he feels he needs to bulk up. The beef was nice, tender, and I enjoyed the combination of flavors. However, some parts were a tad undercooked. CJ asked one of the waiters to re-cook a portion of it. When he got it back, though, he finished it in one go.

What kind of rice goes better with Emerald Chicken/Chicken Pandan than Bagoong Rice? Answer: nothing. The combination of sweet, sour, and acidic from the rice, plus the saltiness from the chicken, equals a sure win.

My dad was in love with his order of Chicken with Cashew Nuts. He loved the flavor of the chicken, the glaze on it, and the combination of textures from the chicken and crunch from the cashew nuts. Rarely does he express this much enthusiasm over a dish (in the sense that he'll rave about it several times; the last time he said anything like this was in reference to the Mahi-Mahi fish from Cyma, which he had during my birthday dinner earlier this year). So for him to say that he wants to visit Basil again soon just for this dish, we knew he was glad that we dragged him there.

My mom and sister demolished their salad within minutes. Again, they loved how every flavor profile from the salad complemented one another. Thai food is just awesome when it comes to the combination of various kinds of flavor.

We ended our meal with my absolute must-have: Sticky Rice with Mango. I loved how Basil presented theirs (I *heart* you, too, Basil), and its stickiness, consistency, and sweet flavors took me once again to Bangkok.

Right now, I'd have to say that Basil is probably one of the most authentic Thai restaurants, if not the most authentic, that I've been to in Manila, at least. And now I know that when I have an intense craving for Thai food, I'm going back there in a jiffy. Even if it'll mean having a hard time with parking.

Khob Kun Krub, Basil!

Basil Thai Restaurant
Katipunan Avenue, corner White Plains
Quezon City
Tel. No. 911-4158

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