Thai Basil – Collingswood

When you’re craving takeout but you’ve reached your General Tso quotient for the month and pizza just seems too expected, Pad Thai is the answer. Jamie and I were delighted to discover Thai Basil right on Haddon Ave, in perfect walking distance from our house. While we still need to give the restaurant a proper sit-down evaluation, here’s what we thought of our latest takeout experience.

Jamie ordered the Pad Thai with Chicken, which I had actually ordered previously (before this blog existed). It’s a consistently appetizing option from Thai Basil, and standard enough. The rice noodles weren’t dry or greasy, and had a decent amount of sweet and savory tamarind sauce. The worst mistake to make with Pad Thai is skimp out on the sauce, am I right? Otherwise you’re squeezing lime juice over tasteless noodles and bean sprouts in an attempt to combat blandness. The portion was large enough to fill a hungry belly with a small amount left over. Which was lucky for me because I didn’t fare so well with my meal.

Feeling adventurous, as usual, I ordered a more exotic item from the menu. Another blogger had spoken so highly of the Green Curry dish that I just had to give it a shot. I love curry. We make curries at home often. I’ve never had green curry, so this seemed like a good opportunity.

My first impression: wow, this is a watery dish. In fact, it looked more like soup than curry. Mixed in with the liquid, I could see chunks of chicken, green beans, and one or two red peppers. The dish comes with a too-small side of oddly mushy jasmine rice. For the price of the meal, they could at least include a healthy serving of rice to soak up some of the liquid. It’s an irrelevant complaint, however, since I will definitely never order this dish again. The flavors were weak, like coconut milk mixed with a stick of melted butter. Trust me, I love butter. Ask my husband. I add butter to just about everything. But this dish was entirely overwhelmed by the oily, buttery taste. I found myself picking out pieces of chicken as the rest was mostly inedible. Jamie’s Pad Thai leftovers came in handy.

The dish did have some spiciness, but it was flat – not what you’d expect from a curry dish. Curries should have layers of flavor, a blend of heat and distinctive spices. Where was the coriander, cumin, or chili flavor for that matter? When added to curry, these flavors should be undeniable. I tried adding ground black pepper in a lazy attempt to give the dish a little more zing, but the it was beyond redemption. I wasn’t about to empty my spice cabinet into such a lost cause.

On another trip to Thai Basil, I ordered the Pineapple Fried Rice with Tofu. Bordering on bland, the pineapples were essential to add some interest for my taste buds. I will give points for nice big pieces of tofu and a respectable amount of veggies. It still had the same greasiness as Chinese take-out fried rice, but was a better option than other nearby offerings.

I’m sure we will return to Thai Basil when the mood strikes for decent, nearby Pad Thai. I’m curious to try some other menu items, like the Drunken Noodles or Spicy Korean Noodles, but I’m also hesitant based on their prices. Thai Basil is still a few dollars overpriced based on the size and value of their meals. For mind-blowing flavor and large portions, I’m happy to pay $15-$20 for a takeout entree. But Thai Basil has yet to blow my mind.

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