Inside a spacious setting adorned with Thai-style woodcarvings, stately pillars, and hanging plants, Erawan of Siam's chef and owner prepares authentic Thai cuisine using techniques perfected across her more than 20-year career. She folds traditional herbs and spices into every dish, starting with appetizers such as the red-curry-infused todmun, a golden-fried shrimp cake served alongside a ground peanut and cucumber dipping sauce. From there, tongues traverse main dishes that, like the best Harlequin romances, span three levels of spiciness, progressing from sweet and mild stir-fried roasted duck with pineapple and scallions to grilled salmon laced with extra spicy choo-chee curry.
Visitors to Tom Can Cook quickly confirm that Tom, whoever he is, isn’t just feigning confidence. He's a master of Asian cuisines, fusing Thai, Korean, Szechuan, and Vietnamese influences for a menu with dozens of different sauces and proteins. Spicy kimchi fried rice hosts morsels of chicken or beef, and the similarly Korean okdol bibimbap mixes meat with veggies and an egg in a stone pot or sturdy top hat. Cooks sauté roasted duck in curry sauce before adding in snow peas, pineapple, and basil sauce to make it siam duck choo chee, and boneless pork loin enjoys a dressing of spicy basil sauce and bamboo shoots in the wild boar basil dish.
Inside the dining room, patrons nourish their bellies at white tablecloths while casting glances at Asian screens, decorative floral gewgaws, and oblong hanging lamps stationed throughout.
Named one of “The Most Authentic Restaurants” by the Boston Globe, Patou Thai offers an assortment of Thai specialties all crafted with a bit of an edge. One example: the halibut filet, which is pan-seared, then brushed with a sweet-and-spicy blend of mango-grilled eggplant salsa and curry sauce. Another refreshing left turn is the honey pork loin, served with fresh garlic oil, summer squash, and zucchini. Or, the green papaya salad, tossed with carrots, peanuts, grilled shrimp, and a spicy chili-lime dressing. Of course there are curries that cater to every taste, from a crispy duck rendition sautéed in hot Panang sauce to a lighter red curry that foregoes meat for vegetables and tofu. And, to help temper the spicy cuisine, the menu also includes a large selection of beers from Thailand, Japan, and Italy, and wines from Italy, Spain, and Sonoma, along with four types of sake.
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.
The chefs at Green Basil want you to eat your vegetables. So, they take care to include plenty of the green stuff in all of their home-style Thai and Vietnamese dishes. Of course, that would include plenty of basil, a staple herb in many Thai recipes and a key garnish on the side of every bowl of pho. Those basil leaves are plucked fresh every morning from local markets and groceries, along with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and all the other fresh veggies the kitchen needs for the day. The daily grocery runs are just a part of Green Basil's long-standing commitment to crafting fresh, healthy food and getting to know the supermarket baggers by name. To that end, they also use only natural, zero-trans fat cooking oil to prepare each dish, so guests can bite into crispy tamarind duck or stir-fried mongolian beef without guilt.
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."