#92: Thai Basil

Today I grabbed some takeout from Thai Basil.  I believe I ate here once years ago, but that was the only time and I don’t remember anything about it.  I walked in at around 12:30.  There were only 3 other customers there, a couple waiting for their food and one person waiting for take out.  I snagged a takeout menu from a stand near the front door on my way in and the single server gestured for me to have a seat at one of the tables.  I already knew I would be getting my three usual dishes.  I’ve looked at the menu closer in the past and one thing that is a little disappointing is that they don’t seem to have any duck.

The dining room is fairly large, it goes back to the far end of the space.  There is a kind of decorative divider wall of sorts at an angle that seperates the front from the more narrow back area.  I sat at a table that was right up against it and I decided that if they were busy, this could be a little uncomfortable place to sit do to the proximity to the table on the other side, because there are large holes in the divider, so you’re pretty much sitting next to the other table as if it was one larger, 4-person table.  For today though, this wasn’t a problem.  A few other small parties arrived and were seated while I sipped on a Thai iced tea and waited for my order.  I watched the server attend to everyone in the restaurant.  He seemed to be efficient, but not very talkative or personable.  I liked the dining room overall, aside from the placement of the two tables.  The ceiling was a kind of cool paneling with shiny green appearance.  I noticed they had 4 big Peavey speakers set up, they seem to be equipped for a rock show.  The music that was playing was coming out of smaller, ordinary speakers, so I have no idea what the Peavey’s were for.

My food took around 15 minutes to come out, and I was on my way.  I ordered the Thai Basil salad (grilled marinated chicken breast and boiled egg served over mixed leaf lettuce, tomatoes, mushroom, onions and cucumber. Served with Thai peanut dressing).  After the drive where it sat between the Pad-See-Ew and steamed rice it was a bit on the warm side but still very good.  The chicken pieces were quite large and I found myself cutting them in half.  The lettuce and other veggies were all fresh and as crisp as could be given the temperature change.  They probably would have been perfect for dine in.  Perhaps it would have been better to have this bagged separately.  The peanut sauce was great and they included more than enough for the size of the salad.

The Pad-See-Ew (thick rice noodles and broccoli florets pan-fried with egg in sweet soy sauce) was ordered with chicken and looked like it was going to be pretty good.  The flavor was in fact very good, about what I would expect at my favorite Thai places.  The noodles were a bit on the chewier side than I really like, but decent.  The chicken was unfortunately dry and I had to dip it in the excess sauce that was left in the bottom of the container to help it out.

The Beef Pa-Nang Curry (beef simmered in creamy red curry and coconut milk) was the last dish.  The large container of the bright orange-red curry was VERY hot.  Spooned over the steamed rice I could get a better look at the contents.  Large green bell peppers, sliced tomatoes, bamboo shoots and some little bits of leafy, spinach-looking greens.  The beef was speckled with little red spots, which gave a visual cue of the spice that was waiting in it.  The menu lists this as a spicy dish, which I didn’t notice but don’t mind at all.  It definitely had a kick to it, but it wasn’t overwhelming or so much that it overtook the very nice red curry flavor.

I was generally happy with Thai Basil, but I think I’d probably end up at Ruen Thai or Khun Suda first.  The lack of duck on the menu is kind of a biggie for me (Khun Suda doesn’t have it either, but they were awesome enough to make up for it in other ways).  Also my favorite dish, Pad-See-Ew was fairly disappointing here.  As I mentioned, the service seemed to be on task and efficient, but not too pleasant or eager to please.

I had a little scoop of Safeway Select Cinnamon Churro ice cream for dessert which was pretty amazing. I recommend it.

Website: http://www.thaibasilrestaurant.com/

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#91: Tandoori House

I was excited to have found Tandoori Nights a while back and try, for the first time, Pakistani food.  Yesterday I was skimming over my list figuring out where to go and I decided to see what Gourmet Cravings was.  Well, it used to be Gourmet Cravings.  Sometime over the summer it was replaced by Roseville’s 2nd Indian/Pakistani restaurant, Tandoori House.  It’s located in the Nugget shopping center at Pleasant Grove and Fairway.

I met my brother for lunch at 1pm and we were the only customers.  During our lunch 1 person picked up a phone order and a couple was seated right about when our food came out.  I read a one liner review on Yelp that had said it was similar to Tandoori Nights but “with atmosphere”, so I was expecting a nicely furnished and decorated restaurant.  I’m not sure I would agree with that review.  I felt that they were extremely similar, despite some obvious little differences.  Tandoori House has a bare cement floor but nicer seating and tables, and is also a much larger space overall.  The thing is, the handful of tables they do have are only positioned against the walls, and up towards the front there is a very large empty space, where the dining area widens out after the kitchen ends, that feels a little odd.

We walked up to the register area upon entering, not knowing if we should order there or be seated.  Quickly however, we realized that this was full service and we were seated with menus.  The gentleman serving us was very friendly and patient and told us to feel free to ask anything if we had questions.  I carefully went over the entire menu from start to finish before deciding on what I wanted.  We each ordered a mango lassi to drink, which I remembered loving before.  Thinking about it again today I went a little out of my way to pick another one up at Tandoori Nights but they were closed unfortunately (I’ll have to check back and make sure they’re not out of business because I didn’t think they closed on Sundays).  Eventually we decided on 4 items and I gave our order to the server.  He complimented me on my pronunciation of karahi chicken (chicken cooked tomatoes, green chilies, ginger & spices), which I was taking stab in the dark on, so that was nice 😉  In addition to the chicken we ordered shahi paneer (deep fried cheese cooked with mild spices and butter sauce), vegetable biryani (mixed vegetables cooked in saffron flavored Basmati rice) and a seekh kabab (mildly spiced ground beef, char grilled on a skewer).  We hadn’t planned on ordering naan but he threw in some garlic naan anyway.

Right away our mango lassis and a little appetizer came out.  The lassi was just as amazing as it was at Tandoori Nights.  Smooth and creamy with a sweet, rich mango flavor.  I wish I was drinking one right now…  The appetizer was a super thin, crunchy chip-like thing, served with a couple chutneys, both of which were delicious.  Our food didn’t take very long, maybe 10 minutes at the most.  Soon we had a table full of amazing smelling food.  The vegetable biryani dominated the table at the center, a big mound of colorful rice and veggies.  The shahi paneer and karahi chicken were each in small metal bowls.  Lastly, the seekh kabab came out sizzling like mad on a hot iron dish.  I had to wait a moment for most of the steam to dissipate before I could take a clear photo.  The garlic naan was coated heavily in the garlic spread they use.  My fingernails were pretty much yellow when I was all done.

Even though I had to get my hands right in there since they were all bone-in pieces, the karahi chicken was fantastic.  Soaking up the excess curry sauce with garlic naan was great.  Towards the end when we had run out of naan, the rice did good work in it’s place for both the chicken and shahi paneer.  Speaking of the shahi paneer, wow, it sounded great from the description and absolutely lived up to it.  There were little cubes of soft cheese and the butter sauce was pretty much the most awesome thing I’ve had in weeks.  I loved pretty much everything, with slight exception of the kabab.  Similarly to Tandoori Nights it was so spicy that it masked what flavors were there.  I doubt I’ll be ordering these anymore.

Basically everything was as good as Tandoori Nights.  Really great, friendly and helpful service, amazingly flavorful food, and decent portions.  We had enough to each take home another meal, which I had for lunch today and it was just as good the second time around.  I’m sold on Indian/Pakistani cuisine, it’s quickly jumped very close to the top of my favorite foods.

Scanned Menu: Click Here

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#90: Blue Nami

Right off the bat I’m going to say that Blue Nami is my favorite sushi place in Roseville.  Mikuni is right up there, but whenever I think about sushi I almost always first think of (and go to) Blue Nami.  This post has been one in the making for a while.  Almost 10 months ago I went there for this post but got busy and never got around to writing it up.  I went again today with a couple of friends so I could finally officially cross it off the list.  These photos are from both visits.

Today I arrived at about 12PM to a mostly empty Blue Nami.  My friends Anne & Justin were already seated and snacking on complimentary edamame.  A vegetable tempura appetizer was already ordered on on the way. I’ve often heard comments that say Blue Nami and Mikuni are overpriced and you’re paying for ambiance rather than the food.  That’s probably partially true, but I like the ambiance so I don’t mind.  On one end there is a large water feature that spans most of the wall which I enjoy sitting near.  This isn’t to say that the sushi is lacking in quality, on the contrary I would argue that it’s some of the better and more consistent sushi we have in the area.

The seating is about the only thing I would mention as needing improvement.  The tables and chairs are large, heavy and bulky wooden things.  The seats themselves are flat and uncomfortable.  I was barely able to sqeeze between several seats to get to mine which was right in the middle on the inside of a group of four 4-person tables.  If they had been occupied I probably would have had to ask someone to get up.

I opened up the heavy, leather bound menu, more to confirm what I was already planning on ordering than to make a decision.  I went with Sushi Combo C (soup, salad, 5x nigiri, 4x sashimi & 1 roll from the premium “sushi wave” list).  This is a pricey but delicious combo that has a little bit of everything.  I wasn’t seated long before the waitress came by to get my drink and the rest of our orders.  The vegetable tempura appetizer came out while she was taking the orders.  I recall there being carrot, onion, broccoli, zucchini and maybe one to two others.  I don’t know what the dipping sauce is, but it’s light and tasty.