True to its name, Pho Basil serves its popular pho with a side of basil leaves. Of course, with so many other fragrant ingredients––fresh bean sprouts, lime, onion, scallion, cilantro––topping the savory broths, it's easy to see how the tiny herb might get overlooked. Luckily it still packs a sweet, peppery punch to soup bowls filled with rare steak, shrimp, calamari, or shredded chicken, or to a Thai green curry chock full of yellow squash, Chinese eggplant, and other veggies named after trendy paint colors. While pho is a star player on the menu, the Thai and Vietnamese restaurant also features daily specials, which may include catfish and broccoli steamed inside a banana leaf or a curry puff stuffed with chicken, potatoes, and onions, and served with a cucumber dressing. But the biggest surprise at Pho Basil might be the warm, accommodating atmosphere. The Phoenix called the service in the "vanilla, caramel, and turquoise" restaurant "attentive and sweet", while Boston.com called the dining room "sparkling white" and noted that the business "treats its clientele––in jeans, sweat pants, and hoodies––like kings."
According to Robert Nadeau of the Boston Phoenix, the chefs at Thaitation Restaurant know when enough is enough. “You smell the garlic, but don’t taste it,” the columnist writes, going on to rave about the chefs’ willingness to forgo heavy-handed seasonings for perfectly balanced flavors.
Indeed, slight hints of coconut broth, galangal root, and lemongrass infuse the lengthy list of items on owner Ratana Chourattana’s dinner menu. But these fresh seafood stir-fries, curries, and noodles are not all that Thaitation Restaurant has to offer. The eatery ends meals on a sweet note with a large number of desserts—a feature not typical of Thailand, as Nadeau points out. Guests can dip spoons into sweets such as coconut mousse as plentiful sunlight filters through huge dining-room windows, illuminating golden walls and tables set with cloth napkins.
If a customer is unsure what to order at Pad Thai Cafe, there’s no need to question the staff—the chef’s suggestions are already on the menu. The Boston-fried rice features egg, crispy chicken, and sausage over a tomato sauce infused with pineapple and raisins. The ba mee song kruang, meanwhile, blends surf and turf with roast pork and a fish ball over a bed of egg noodles. Of course, the menu has plenty more to choose from, including Thai curries, noodle dishes, and fried rice. Even dessert has its share of rice, except it’s sticky-sweet, sprinkled with fresh mango and mung beans, and served with a side of coconut milk.
My Thai Cafe makes a strict diet a little easier for those who don’t eat animal byproducts. The all-vegan Thai restaurant crafts meals from vegetables and realistic meat costumes, serving veggie-shrimp basil fried rice and veggie-chicken pad thai. The restaurant also hosts a selection of tofu dishes that mix the bean curd with bamboo shoots, pineapple chunks, or steamed jasmine rice. The plates aren’t the only things abundant in plants. The restaurant’s interior is decorated with a variety of potted plants bathing in the sunlight that pours in through the large windows. They rest below high, vaulted ceilings that sprout fans to keep diners cool.
The interior at Chilli Duck may play off the restaurant’s name—light-pink walls bedecked with paintings of ducks—but the cuisine is seriously Thai. The menu offers plate after authentic plate. Thai noodle soup. Crispy pad thai with chicken and shrimp. Hot basil leaves in a Thai-style chili sauce. Gayot suggests the jungle curry in a fire pot, a stew of bamboo shoots, eggplant, string beans, baby corn, and bell peppers that makes wild-animal noises as it boils. It also suggests ending meals with a dessert of mango and sweet sticky rice, which offers a “true taste of Thailand.”
The chefs at Bamboo Thai Restaurant developed a menu that gives diners complete control over their gustatory experience, from the level of spiciness to the type of noodles accompanying their dish. Five distinct curries—red, green, yellow, panang, and massaman—pair with the guest's selection of one of nine proteins and one of 10 rice or noodle options, including udon, buckwheat, and vermicelli, resulting in more dinner options than a socialite's rolodex. The noodle selection process crops up again when ordering one of the six meal-in-a-bowl soups, and five pad thai options dare taste buds to pick from vegetables, chicken, shrimp, or a combination of all three, with rice or crispy egg noodles. To complement spicy bites, a lengthy list of Thai, Japanese, and American beers stands next to warm and draft sakes.