Monday, May 9, 2011

Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine

Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine
Shop C/D
6/F Lee Theatre Plaza
99 Percival St
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Ph : +852 28901993

I had an unexpected yearning for Thai food one night, and somehow ended up at Sweet Basil Thai. Proximity to my hotel and slightly frustrated attempts at finding a good Thai restaurant in the area (namely through Open Rice) were major contributors to this.

Situated on one of the restaurant oriented floors of the Lee Theatre Plaza, Sweet Basil is not only quite large but has the appearance of having exploded beyond its original premises into the surrounding public space. I was curious about this, as surely it indicated that they must be popular?  As it turned out the 'outside' tables, of which there were easily two dozen in number, were mostly empty that evening. The interior could not be seen from where I was sitting, so I'm not sure how much business they did that night.

Mini combination platter (HKD88)

Sheer lack of imagination combined with the novelty value of ordering a "combination" anything was the reasoning behind this choice. If this is the "mini" version, the mind boggles at the larger one, as  despite appearances in this photo, this was actually a reasonably sized starter. Each of the components were quite filling.

Spring roll

These robustly sized spring rolls contained a good mix of some half a dozen types of meat and vegetables. Although not the best spring roll I ate during this trip (that was the one at Sportful Garden), these were hot, crunchy, and pleasant enough.

Stuffed chicken in lotus leaf

Deboned chicken simply stuffed with what appeared to be cabbage, wrapped in skin and cooked in lotus leaf. This may sound odd, but I found this too substantial for me to eat comfortably. It wasn't about the taste, which was really niether here nor there, but all that white chicken meat just seemed to sit heavily on my stomach by the time I made it half way through the parcel. It was at that point that I realised that too much food had been ordered.

Fried cabbage sprouts with salted fish (HKD62)

This was my dish of the night. I enjoy Brussel Sprouts, and these were very similar but tasted less bitter and more cabbage like. The salted fish was light of touch, merely bringing out the best flavours of the slightly crunchy sprouts. When I'd ordered it, I hadn't actually been sure what cabbage sprouts were, but you can now consider me a fan.

Braised beef flank and tendon in yellow curry (HKD85)

This is a very Hong Kong style of curry, and to my tastes, a little on the mild/ bordering on bland side. The sauce was alright in that well-it-tastes-quite-okay-when-mixed-with-rice sort of way, but on the whole, I would not bother to order it again.

Fried king prawns with garlic and white pepper (HKD250)

This was not what I expected when I ordered the dish, and large though the king prawns were, I was still left with the feeling that this was really not worth the cost. They were decently crunchy, the shell able to be eaten and the garlic not too strong (then again, being a fan of garlic, I am happy to eat almost any amount of it when combined with prawns), but the mention of white pepper in the description puzzled me a tad. Again, enjoyable enough but just a bit overpriced.

Perhaps I have been spoilt by the plethora of solid Thai restaurants in Sydney, but with the exception of the cabbage sprouts, which I enjoyed so much that I would love to be able to order it back home, the meal left me satisfied from a hunger point of view but still with the feeling that I hadn't quite managed to satiate my desire for Thai food. What did it come down to? Well, I was missing that more vigorous, punchy, fresh aspect to much of the Thai food that I eat in Sydney.


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