I haven't had Thai food for quite a while now, so when it was time for BL and me to have a catch-up dinner, I skipped the usual Italian or American choices and went straight to the Thai. This thaime -- excuse me, time-- we tried a place I've never been before, despite it being marginally in the neighborhood: Thai Basil, on 9th Ave between 55th and 56th Streets.
The dining room itself is typical Thai: sparse, somewhat depressing, nothing to write home about at all. The prices are also relatively standard, in the $8-12 range for an entree depending on your protein, perhaps a dollar or two more expensive than some of the other comparable options. They had a papaya salad, and that's all that mattered to me.
So a papaya salad is what I got. This one was actually a relatively small portion, although there was lots of sauce swimming at the bottom of the curiously oblong rectangular plate. But it was pretty good; just as I remembered it, crunchy and savory, with lots of peanuts on top. I requested mild spice, and I don't think they put any spice in it at all, because come to think of it I don't remember any lingering burn whatsoever.
BL chose to start with a Thai iced tea, which was the most alarmingly orange beverage I've ever seen. I'm talking more orange than orange soda, which is probably about 50% orange dye. This is not something I'd drink (and again, I drink orange soda). But BL consumed it, enjoyed it, and called it refreshing.
For his entree, BL got the "Thai basil" with pork. This comes with basil, onion, and bell pepper in a brownish/orangeish sauce, with the obligatory plate of white rice on the side. Though he had just had lunch a few hours before, BL did enjoy this dish. From my perspective, it looked pretty standard.
So where does Thai Basil fall in the spectrum of Hell's Kitchen thai joints? Pretty much right smack in the middle. It's hovering between two and three Offset Spatulas in my book... not bad at all, but there's no reason to go there over any of the other Thai places on Ninth Ave, unless this happens to be the closest one to you at the time of your Thai craving. For the slightly less-appealing-than-average dining room and the slightly smaller-than-average portions, I'll give Thai Basil two OSes and a tip of the hat for curing my Thai craving admirably.
860 Ninth Avenue, between 55th and 56th Streets