Thai Basil is a small restaurant on the edge of a strip mall in Visalia, California. The dim dining room is a comfortable place to satisfy your cravings for curry and stir-fried noodles, served by a friendly but very busy staff. If you arrive on a weekend evening, be prepared to wait, as all seats will likely be occupied.
The menu offers Thai favorites as well as many dishes commonly found on Chinese-American restaurant menus. Nearly everything is available prepared with chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu; and guests select their level of heat preference by stating a number from one to 10. It’s worth noting that both three and four offer no detectable level of spiciness. So if you prefer spicy food, consider a higher number.
Start with golden-fried Thai dumplings filled with a mix of pork and vegetables served with soy sauce for dipping. The Tom Kha Kai with chicken is beautifully presented and sings with the flavors of lemongrass in a tangy coconut milk broth with a variety of mushrooms. Tom Yum Kai is a hot & sour soup dotted with a variety of mushrooms and redolent of kaffir lime.
Noodle dishes are big enough to be right for sharing. Pad See-Ew combines bright florets of crunchy broccoli with carrots in a dark, savory sauce. Tofu is served as fried bean curd and makes an ideal addition to the noodles and vegetables. Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles) are fragrant with Thai basil and combine flat rice noodles with carrots and other vegetables. Tender slices of pork go well with all the flavors in the dish.
Thai Basil is open for lunch, offering a long list of lunch specials Monday through Friday. It closes late afternoon and reopens at 5:00 pm for dinner.