At Thai Sweet Basil, chefs shun frozen produce and MSG, instead championing fresh, all-natural ingredients for their menu of traditional Thai cuisine. They simmer five varieties of curries, serving them with fragrant mounds of jasmine rice, and fry up classic noodle dishes, such as pad thai and sweet-basil fried rice. They also plate delicacies such as soft-shell crab with green curry and snapper marinated in tamarind. All the recipes and cooking techniques that they use were developed over the centuries in the Thai royal palace. Servers weave between sunny walls and maroon booths bordering a dining room speckled with emerald fronds, exotic artwork, and linens as white and untarnished as a snowman's criminal record.
As diners enter Joto Thai-Sushi, their attention is drawn to the newly redecorated, amber-toned dining room. In the kitchen, chefs cut, roll, and transform fresh fish into more than 50 kinds of sashimi and maki, such as the spider roll—packed with deep-fried soft-shell crab—and the fried-fish Tampa roll, appeal to sushi-eaters not ready to go raw, while more traditional options, such as fresh salmon or sweet-shrimp sashimi, slake cravings for fish in its purest form. Groups can order an assortment of rolls and sashimi, typically served on a large wooden boat for the table to share, or settle into a table and enjoy fresh-grilled salmon teriyaki, shrimp tempura, or udon soup. In addition to the sushi and Japanese offerings, diners can also enjoy expertly prepared Thai classics such as Pad Thai and a variety of Thai curries. For dessert, the chefs perform the seemingly impossible and deep-fry ice cream.
A collage of dark woods, gilded statues, and vibrant textiles greets the eye at Rouen Thai, perfumed by a spiced aroma that floats out from the kitchen. As patrons settle into high-backed booths or around sunken tables with traditional floor-cushion seating, they can prime their palates with sips of thai sweet iced tea with a touch of cream. The menu includes familiar noodle dishes such as pad see ew as well as frog legs, squid, and sea scallops in numerous sauces. Racks of lamb, grilled and topped with basil leaves, form a counterpoint to the vegetarian menu’s siam tofu with thai chili sauce. The chefs also serve a substantial list of macrobiotic dishes, many of which come with sautéed shrimp, a mélange of veggies, and rice that's naturally tan.
Seaweed is as decorative as it is delicious at Blue Bamboo Sushi. Blue and green artworks covering the walls represent the flowing saltwater plant, thematically tying the decor to the wide selection sashimi and signature sushi rolls. At the sushi bar, chefs make good on the visual promise, rolling up classic sushi delights, such as the California roll, or getting creative with unorthodox cuts such as the Surf 'n' Turf—a roll filled with tempura-fried lobster, seared steak, and lemon-butter mayo.
The rest of the menu takes off from Japan, and is all over the map in the best way possible. The crab rangoon nods to American-inflected Chinese food, and the Pho—a long-simmered beef broth served with plates of sprouts, full basil leaves, lime, and jalapeño—takes taste buds on a quick trip to Vietnam. The culinary whims of the menu even skip over to Indonesia for the classic chicken satay served with thai peanut sauce. The point of origin for some of the dishes, however, is as local as the chef's imagination. The spicy tuna stuffed mushrooms, for example, come filled with pineapple-chili marinated tuna and soy for dipping, blending a slew of culinary traditions.