Thai Basil, owned by Khen Malaythong, has been a popular restaurant in Pella for more than 10 years.
A few weeks ago, his son, David, and David’s wife, Katy Lovan, opened a new location in Waukee to serve lunch and dinner daily.
The restaurant, located in a strip mall off Hickman Road, is a quaint little place with simple decor. Deep red walls and heavy curtains take away from the strip-mall-location vibe to create a cozy ambiance devoid of jarring views of the busy highway.
We stopped in on a Thursday during lunch and found the restaurant about half full. We seated ourselves and were brought waters and menus right away. Shortly after we ordered the basil rolls (two for $4) and the toasted tortilla ($4). The basil rolls were fresh spring rolls, each cut in half to make four, which were perfectly crunchy and sticky and served with a thin, and delicious, peanut sauce. The toasted tortilla — a unique appetizer item — was a combination of shrimp and chicken with Thai spices, wrapped in a tortilla and fried, then served with a sweet chili sauce. The tortilla was crisp and light, and the inside ingredients were perfectly melted.
The menu consists of several entrees, including rice and noodle dishes, Thai curry and pad thai. I tried spicy basil noodles ($9) with chicken, which was tossed with onions, crisp snow peas, green and red bell peppers and, of course, fresh basil, all tossed in a garlic chili sauce. Guests can order dishes with the amount of heat they prefer (mild, medium or hot); I chose medium and it was barely hot, which I liked. Perhaps, on a cooler day, I will try it hot.
The vegetables in my dish were incredibly fresh, and were cooked only until crisp-tender, which gave the meal a light crunch.
My dining partner tried the Panang curry ($9), which he enjoyed. The tofu he ordered it with was pan-seared and crispy, and he also noted that the veggies were very fresh — not frozen. He said the sauce was thinner than typical thick curry sauces, but it didn’t affect the quality of the flavor.
For dessert we tried the fried bananas ($3.50). The fruit was cut into four manageable pieces and lightly fried, then topped with raspberry sauce, whipped cream, coconut shavings and a couple of cherries. The result was a sweet and savory dessert, that was just the right size for sharing.
Despite its distance from downtown, we will definitely be returning to Thai Basil. The service, food and prices were fantastic, and before we go, we must mention the presentation. No detail is spared when they plate the food — they even made a bowl of curry look good.
Find it: 286 Hickman Road, Waukee
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
Info: 216-1026, thaibasiliowa.com