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La Basil (Thai), San Diego


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La Basil (Thai), San Diego

Joseph | Nov 18, 2006 08:17 PM

My wife and I tried La Basil on Thursday night. If you've read this post (
then you know that I've been looking for good Thai for a while. La Basil and Thai Village were the two places most recently recommended; Cathy wrote about it on Kirk's blog (; read her review.

We started with the #1 fried spring rolls ($5) and the coconut-milk based soup (#9 on the list). The spring rolls were good but not as good as those at Thien Thanh. The soup was great; the coconut was not overpowering but added a delicious creamyness to the rich broth. The mushrooms and tofu went well with the vegetables and seasonings; we had the vegetarian option. It was the best dish of the night.

Next, my wife overruled my idea of beef larb, and picked the Som Tam (green papaya) salad. The flavors were rather muted; the spice level was low as she had requested, but I would have liked more fish sauce and shrimp paste. It was good, but I've made better at home.

Our main courses were, in two words, too sweet. Pad thai had tender shrimp, cooked just right, and al dente noodles, but any flavors in the mix were overpowered by sugar.

Our server had recommended the fried fish and I had picked #43 deep fried fish with chili sauce. Tamarind, garlic, chile, basil and lemon grass sounded good, but they didn't mention "tons of sugar." The fish may have been good, but the unbalanced sweetness of the sauce did not work for me. I would prefer too sour or too salty or too much MSG; those seem to dilute out with plenty of rice. But rice won't cut through sugar. Perhaps it was a bad night.

We had the coconut ice cream for desert, as ripe mangos were not available for the sticky rice dish. It was quite good and I happily ate it all.

We may come back for the lovely decor (including a fish tank with real coral, anemones and clown fish), good service and good soups, but I hope there are better dishes on the menu. I may need to ask for "hot" rather than "medium"; the blond hair always gives me away. I will try the Larb, which Cathy recommended.

Has anyone been to Thai Village in Mission Beach, or Kariya in Pacific Beach? Those are the other two Thai restaurants I want to try.

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