Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thai Basil, DeRidder, La.

It's not often we visit an out-of-town restaurant(?), let alone a distant Thai restaurant (the only one around here is Chaba Thai Cuisine in Beaumont); but when the place comes highly recommended by our good friends Paul and Angela Hauser of DeRidder, La, we must cross the Sabine to check it out.

Thai Basil is a brightly painted restaurant right on the corner of US-171 (or N. Pine St.) and Somerset Dr., adjacent to the Deridder Inn; but unless you know it's there, you just might miss it if you have a heavy throttle-hand.  Inside the dining area, it is inviting and warmly-lit with incandescent light, not the harsh fluorescent-type.  The staffs are energetic, helpful and polite.  I sipped on a glass of surprisingly deep and full-bodied Sweet Tea while waiting patiently for the Seafood Tom Kah Soup to be followed by Pad Thai with Shrimp. (Consider this a light-lunch for me after riding for over 113 miles!)

It was well worth the wait.  The Tom Kah is fresh and spicy, filled with generous cuts of tender and juicy squid, sea scallop, fish and shrimp.  The broth is rich, yet not overpowered by coconut milk and accented with unmistakable hints of fresh ginger and lemongrass. The simple, yet dramatic presentation, its portioning, even at half-order, gives you a sense of richness and wealth that will sure to make other guests jealous and their mouths water with regret.

Next, Pad Thai was served with crushed roasted peanuts on the side, and what a glorious dish it was to behold.  Glistening pan-fried rice noodles mildly sauced, with interwoven bean sprouts laced with thin strands of golden fried eggs and highlighted with sliced green scallions. The aroma, the steam rising off this Pad Thai is enough to make a grown man weep (and I am not even Thai)!  I couldn't help dusting this already superb dish with chili flakes; but that's just me, and for anyone else, optional.  The deliciousness is just unbelievable!

This is Heaven--nicely tucked away once, but thanks to our friends, is now discovered at this very place in DeRidder!  So the next time you're in this part of the Gumbo Belt and crave something authentically delicious and exotic (and can't afford to hop on the next jet to Bangkok), all you need to remember are two words, Thai Basil.--Lorenzo

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