A short 15-minute walk from campus, Basil Thai gives its competitors in Georgetown a run for their Baht. With only 11 tables and 30 seats, the restaurant creates a welcoming and intimate atmosphere that the better-known Mai Thai and Bangkok Joe’s lack. Reservations are not needed, and parties of two to four should feel free to seat themselves if tables are available.
Upon entering the red brick establishment at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Q Street, one notices the warm orange walls, hanging watercolors and glossy, hand-painted tables. This bold yet clean presentation translates into the flavors of the authentically prepared cuisine as well.
Immediately after sitting down, my friends and I were served ice water and given menus. The waitress also pointed out a selection of specials before taking our drink order. Along with traditional favorites like pad Thai and drunken noodles, Basil Thai’s menu offers something for every palate, no matter the diner’s preference. In addition, items that are spicy are marked with a bomb on the menu and can be altered for those with low tolerance.
For an appetizer, our party shared the crispy wontons, which did not disappoint. As their name suggests, the wontons were crunchy but not brittle and were served perfectly warm. Though fried, they were not oily or greasy, affording us the opportunity to enjoy the best part of the starter: the luscious and soft white chicken meat at the wonton’s center.
When it comes to Asian food, I am not one to experiment with anything unfamiliar. I ordered a conventional chicken pad Thai. At the same price as Mai Thai’s, Basil Thai’s dish contained seemingly fresher ingredients and much more flavor. Striking a perfect balance between sweet and savory, the chicken and noodles melted in my mouth, unleashing a tang of ginger and hints of basil and garlic. A veggie lover, I also enjoyed combining those tastes with the side of crisp carrots, shallots and bean sprouts.
My friends ordered the Thai Rama chicken and Gang Dang curry, both of which they enjoyed. Served with sticky jasmine rice, these entrees were of an edible portion size, not too large or too small for one person. Like the pad Thai, both of these dishes were made with fresh herbs and spices. I thoroughly enjoyed the combined aromas of the curry’s chili pepper, the Thai Rama chicken’s ginger and the pad Thai’s basil and garlic. Sensing the natural scents from other parties’ meals wafting in the air, I felt as though I were dining in an open marketplace in Thailand.
Also interesting is the fact that Basil Thai’s chefs do not use any MSG. As a result, I found that the meals at Basil Thai were not as heavy as those from other traditional Thai restaurants. Unlike at Mai Thai, where I often leave half of my main course uneaten, I left only the floral carrot garnish on my plate at Basil Thai.
Other than the seemingly out-of-place American musical theater hits that played in the background and the Christmas and Valentine’s Day decorations that hung in the front window, we had no complaints about Basil Thai. In fact, I think we will be replacing Mai Thai with this restaurant, as its service is faster and friendlier and its produce and meat fresher. Providing free delivery as well, the owners of Basil Thai show that they care about not only their food but also their clientele.