Everyone has their favourite types of cuisine but just to be a bit complicated I have three. Staying close to my roots my first favourite is French cuisine. Secondly, thanks to my incurable addiction to raw fish, the logical next player is Japanese. But in more recent years, my love of Thailand and their food has grown exponentially fuelled by some incredible trips to Thailand with the Boy where we have celebrated a close friend’s wedding, got engaged and found the wedding venue of our dreams and ultimately returned there to marry. It holds a very special place in both our hearts.
Many Thai restaurants here in Perth are a little Westernised and cook up what my novice experience tells me is Bangkok style cuisine. Although the immense variety of dishes you can eat in Thailand is exciting, over here in Perth I find a lot of restaurant stick to the more common dishes such as green curries, ginger chicken, basil beef and the like. Worst still, a lot add way too much sugar into each dish meaning the flavours of the dishes become very simplified and sweet. True Thai should have more complexity in its flavour achieving a delicate balance of sweet, sour, salty and sometimes bitter.
Our favourite local Thai is Little Ying Thai on Albany Highway. Although I wouldn’t say it’s the best Thai in Perth, it is cheap; it’s local and hits the spot every time. Better still the owner recognises me over the phone once I ask for “no gluten, no onion” in our order. They have yet to get our orders wrong and I always feel very confident ordering from them.
A new Thai restaurant Red Basil opened up last year on the Albany Highway café strip and being even closer to our house than Little Ying we thought we would give them a try. Immediately upon glancing at the menu I started to get a bad feeling as there were a couple of more Chinese looking dishes on there. Thai and Chinese are two very different cultures and more importantly cuisines! We started with the soft-shelled crab which was deep-fried and served with a “Thai” dressing, carrot, tomato and chilli. I asked for the onion to be omitted but it still was placed on our plate. The crab had barely any meat and was mostly just crispy shell.
Larb is one of my favourite Thai appetisers. It is a mincemeat salad made typically with chicken, pork, duck or mushrooms and flavoured with fish sauce, lime juice, toasted ground rice and then mixed with fresh chilli, mint and other herbs. I love the mixture of sweet mint, the heat of the chilli and the crunchy texture of the toasted ground rice. This version was a small for an entrée, was very mild in heat and a little too sweet. My request for no onion was observed for this dish.
The Boy also ordered some vegetarian spring rolls for his entrée. I was unable to taste them as they contained gluten but he described them to me as being somewhat soggy and tasted like stale oil. They contained carrot, cabbage, corn and glass noodles and were served with sweet chilli sauce.
Unfortunately by this point my disappointment had led to me drinking the majority of my bottle of wine and my ability to capture our last dish on camera failed me. We ordered the ginger chicken with mixed vegetables. The dish came with plenty of veggies but had very little ginger flavour to it and tasted like a basic stir fry.
Overall, neither of us were that impressed with Red Basil. With a couple of other good Thai options nearby our home it would seem unlikely that we would get to return to get them a second chance either. Perhaps some other readers can tell me otherwise? On the bright side, our meal came to under $50 bucks which fitted very nicely into our weekend budgeting!Red Basil Thai Cuisine 2/335 Albany Highway, Victoria Park, WA 6100 | (08) 9361 2661 Price: $ (under $15 per meal) BYO, Cash only Food: 4/10 (too sweet without any other flavour) Service: 2/5 (forgot my allergies, uncertain they avoided gluten as I reacted the following day with my usual skin and gut upsets) Ambience: 2/5 (none really, but then it is cheap so you get what you pay for) Total: 8/20