Lunch at Thai Basil
Satisfy your cravings for sweet, savory and spicy with the deep flavors of Thailand.
Thai Basil in Chantilly claims its fame from Executive Chef and owner Nongkran Daks, winner of Food Network's "Pad Thai Throw Down" with celebrity chef Bobby Flay.
Located in a modest plaza on Lee Jackson Highway, the décor is simple and the service is shall we say, efficient – that is, matter-of-fact and moderately attentive. A popular weekday lunch spot with working professionals, by noon the dining room is nearly full of people who don’t seem to mind the “no split checks at lunch” rule.
I started with an appetizer called Golden Cups ($5.95) which were crisp bite-sized shells filled with seasoned ground chicken, corn and red peppers. Ultimately, a tiny Thai taco, the cups were garnished with cilantro and plated with a decorative carrot flower. Delightful in appearance, texture and taste with the most forward being fish sauce and cilantro, a pair that is simply meant to be together.
Next, I enjoyed Tom Kha Gai soup ($4.95) made with a light coconut milk broth, chicken and vegetables. The mushrooms were fresh – clearly not canned or frozen – and the soup was flavored with a delightful zing of lime and brightened with cilantro stems, though I would have preferred leaves.
This was not the first time I ordered Thai Basil’s most acclaimed dish: Chef Dak’s Pad Thai with shrimp ($9.95). Anxious to love the award-winning noodles, it again failed to impress me due to its extreme sweetness. I requested a wedge of lime to bring some balance to the ultra-caramelized flavor. However, the shrimp in this dish was especially tender and provided a scrumptious component to the meal.
The final dish was Gang Dang ($8.95 lunch/$11.95 dinner), a red curry with chicken and vegetables that was beautifully spiced, earthy and just a tad sweet. The green beans were a very fresh and crisp, bringing a clean texture to the dish. Served with plain white rice, this entrée was both tasty and filling.
While there were a few flaws with the experience, I found Thai Basil to offer freshly prepared flavorful Thai food for a reasonable price, and I will return.
Ambiance: Casual attire is appropriate in this setting of simple traditional Thai décor. Noise level is moderate when busy, but you can still easily hold a conversation.
Patrons: Employee name tags adorn the necks of most lunch-time diners. The restaurant is family-friendly for both lunch and dinner with high chairs available. A separate vegetarian menu is also available upon request.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.