Ginger, saffron, and other aromatic spices mingle in Hot Basil Cafe's kitchen, where chefs create dishes inspired by Indian and Thai cuisines. The kitchen maestros prepare Thai dishes such as cashew-nut chicken and spicy catfish, filling place settings alongside tiger prawns and cream pepper chicken baked in an Indian clay oven. They round out each meal with Thai-style iced coffee and indian fruit lassis, as well as wines and ice creams.
If you ask chef Lek Saicheur where her recipes come from, she may regale you with stories of the bustling open-air markets of Bangkok, Thailand, where vendors peddle fiery noodles and sizzling fried fish. While pursuing her master's degree at U.C. Davis, Saicheur shared these dishes with her fellow students in Thai cooking classes. Their enthusiastic response compelled her to eventually open up her own Thai restaurant—Thai Recipes.
Deep in the kitchen, Saicheur and her sister whip up a variety of traditional curries and noodle dishes. The aromas of fresh basil, spicy peppers, and garlic flood the air as the sisters simmer meats in pure canola oil or liquid hot magma. They complement their plates of pad thai, green chicken curry, and stir-fried clams with bottles of imported Thai beer and glasses of cool coconut water. Thai Recipes also purifies it's water by using a reverse osmosis system.
The cooks at KetMoRee compose a symphony of curries while scoring an orchestra of appetizers for the restaurant's melodious menu. The staff delivers starter plates of the chili-crusted calamari, which hold tangles of deep-fried squid surrounded by a tarn of homemade plum-chili sauce ($9). Afterward, bite into brisk salads such as the crisp cucumber salad ($4) or the sprightly yum nua salad, which consists of onion and cilantro shrouded with sliced grilled beef tenderloin and spritzed with mild lime dressing ($8). Specialties include the gai yang, a grilled marinated half-chicken soaked in house-made sweet-and-sour sauce ($13) and the flaming broccoli, which combines beef sautéed with broccoli and jalapeño for an entrée more explosive than a summer blockbuster starring both Quaid brothers ($11). Refresh tastebuds with a chilled shot of fruit-infused vodka, available in flavors such as kiwi-mango or strawberry-pineapple ($7). KetMoRee's banquet room hosts upscale after-hours entertainment, furnishing full bar facilities, high definition TVs, and premium sound and lighting equipment.
Thai food is a traditionally spicy cuisine, and the chefs at Heng Heng Heng! Thai Noodles want all of their customers to realize that before ordering. On the menu, nine of the nearly two dozen entrees come marked with two or three tiny peppers, denoting that the dish either packs a lot of heat or hates being left out. The boat noodles, for example, stew with beef, flank steak, and spinach inside a housemade spicy chili sauce, and the innocent-sounding chicken with basil teems with extra-hot chili peppers. Diners looking for a subtler flavor have a fair share of options as well, from pad see ew to prawn fried rice.
The lengthy menu goes on for about nine miles until the Earth's curvature obscures it from view. It's packed full of authentic offerings and contemporarily twisted cuisine. Ride the culinary fence with old- and new-school starters such as crispy tofu ($5.95) or Thai fish cakes ($7.95) before throwing sand on the table and drawing a line in it, indicating the desire to move on to bigger bites. Adherents of authenticity can feast upon classic pad thai ($9.50) and pineapple fried rice ($12.95), while contemporanians can go for the lamb red curry with pumpkin ($16.50) or tamarind-steamed salmon ($12.95). A variety of curries, vegetarian dishes (available upon request), and seafood dishes are also offered. Menu items marked with the ominously seductive chili are spicy and can be ordered on the heat scale ranging from 98.6 to Ghost Rider.