Sweet Basil: A delectable delight for Thai lovers

Alyssa Lofgren

Sweet Basil is a spacious Thai restaurant in Granada Hills, tucked in the corner of a small shopping center at Balboa Blvd. and Chatsworth St. At first glance, the restaurant is modern and sleek with dark green walls and minimalist d’eacute;cor. Paper lanterns float over each table and the restaurant is simple and clean. Their lunch special, which is available Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is a steal, starting at $4.95 for chicken, pork, beef or tofu entrees and $6.45 for shrimp or squid.

You can choose your entr’eacute;e out of 20 choices, ranging from spicy green bean to a whole rainbow of curries. While Thai food has very distinct flavors, at many Thai restaurants the flavors are muddled due to hasty preparation and a busy kitchen staff.

In the variety of items sampled at Sweet Basil, the flavors practically jumped from the dish. As a starter try the Tom Kha, which is a soup made out of rich coconut milk. The sweet milk of the coconut contrasts well with the tang of kaffir lime leaves, which give a subtle bite to the soup. Infused with lemongrass, cilantro, and galangal (the pink-fleshed sister of ginger), the soup sings with taste sensations.

Instead of being overpowered by the various spices, every flavor is perfectly balanced with one another. The Tom Kha soup runs $6.95 for a large size, which comes out sizzling in a hot pot, with napalm fire crackling underneath to keep it warm. A large Tom Kha will easily feed two people and is available with chicken, tofu, vegetables or shrimp.

The lunch specials come with salad, soup, a fried wonton, and steamed or brown rice. The chicken pad Thai that was ordered with the lunch special was phenomenal. Instead of typical soggy noodles and limp chicken, the noodles were cooked perfectly, slightly firm and coated with a delicious peanut sauce. Everything tasted natural, and the slightly salty taste of fish sauce complemented the sweetness of the peanuts.

The yellow curry was excellent – sweet, with the perfect amount of spice. Curry is made from a coconut milk base, so the honey-like finish of the sauce really stood out when paired with aromatic curry paste. Yellow curry is usually served with chunks of white potato, carrot and chicken. This combination of soft root vegetables makes for a hearty entr’eacute;e.

Each lunch plate comes with a delectable, piping hot fried wonton and a sizeable side salad with creamy dressing. For all of that food, the bill was just under $18, which is a bargain for the large meal for two and friendly service.

Sweet Basil is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. It is located at 10676 Balboa Blvd, at the corner of Balboa and Chatsworth St. in Granada Hills. There is free delivery with a minimum $10 order, and Sweet Basil also offers dinner specials starting at $7.95.

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