22 October 2014


No, not the herb but rather the Thai restaurant at 1175 Folsom, between 7th and 8th.

See, the wonderful thing about having a foreign visitor is that it spurs me to go out to eat in favorite places and also to try new ones.  Thus, Basil, which now has a second location up the block in that fabulous old brewery at corner of 11th Street, but i figured i’d best start with the original venue.

Wow.  One of the partners is an architecture student at UC Berkeley, and he did a stunning job of gutting a nondescript space and making it lovely, most particularly by knocking out the entire wall on Rogers Alley and replacing it with glass brick, which lights up the serene interior.

But i didn’t go there to look.

Since it was my first time, i opted for three favorites, none of which Valentin was familiar with.  He’s the ideal fellow diner, somewhat knowledgeable but eager to try new things, and by exquisite chance, he was not very familiar with Thai food and had had none of my favorites.  Great.

So we started with the old standby, “Crispy wrapped whole tiger prawns with sweet chili vinaigrette (goong gra bog)”.  They were perfect, and Valentin inquired in delight of the sauce, “What is this?”

Next was “Minced chicken salad with shallots, mint, lime, dried chili, & roasted rice powder * (larb gai)”  This was Basil’s version of the fabulous duck version at the legendary Thai House on Noe at Henry twenty-something years ago, and it may have been just as good.  One caveat.  That asterisk i faithfully copied and pasted from the online menu title supposedly means that the dish is spicy with pepper.  All i can say is that their official spiciness evaluator must be blond haired and blue eyed, as i could barely detect the capsaicin.  Next time i go in, i’ll ask ’em to up it a bit although as i observed to Valentin, that runs the risk of the waiter sticking his head into the kitchen and smirking to the chef, “White boy wants more pepper” and their doing a fist bump.

And finally, i’d been jonesing for yellow curry since i had a spectacular version of it last August in Portland, so i ordered “Yellow curry braised ‘all natural’ 1/4 chicken, onions, and potatoes served with cucumber salad (kang gari gai)”.  I’d never had this dish except with the chicken boned and cut up, but it was plenty good this way.  The chicken was infused with curry flavor, as were the creamy potatoes.  The curry sauce?  Well, owing to popular demand, Valentin scraped it off the platter for us down to the last molecule.

We were too stuffed to have my favorite dessert, the Thai iced coffee, so the bill for the two of us came to only $33.  What a buy.  Now i gotta try the other location, where the menu is somewhat different, and work my way through everything on both menus.

Oh, and the lunch was made all that more enjoyable by our dropping by the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market on the way so as to give Valentin a tour of it, me on the Segway and him on the bicycle he’d peddled here from Montreal. Yes, Montreal,  Canada.

The return home was made more entertaining by my suggesting to Valentin that we loop his two-meter-long bicycle cable lock around his handlebars with my holding the ends of it with my right hand so i could tow him up Noe hill with the Segway.  He was hesitant at first, but when i pointed out that the worst that could happen was that we’d both die horrible deaths, he was immediately onboard.

The great glory is that it worked!  Yes, he did some peddling, but he kept remarking at how vastly easier it was to climb the hill with a Segway assist.

The great shame is that no friend was available to photograph us, and i’d forgot my camera so we couldn’t enlist one of the lamentably few observers we delighted.  We must  do this again to get it documented.


And since i’d forgot my camera, there were no pics of lunch, so i’ll have to make do with this shot of Valentin on the Billy Goat Hill swing yesterday.

Billy Goat Hill swing



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