Name: Thai Basil
Location: 1 Washington Ave., Endicott, NY 13760
Phone: (607) 484-0188
Price: Usually around $40 for two
Thai Basil is located at the corner of Washington Ave. and North St. in Endicott in what I understand used to be quite a bustling area when IBM was in its heyday. These days, there are a couple diners on the block, Los Tapatios, a Chinese restaurant, and a pizza place, but I get the sense that the entire village of Endicott is but a shadow of what it used to be. Thai Basil is a place I've been to a few times and have been extremely impressed with every time. Today I went for their lunch buffet in order to try out a bunch of their items at once. This was an excellent decision and I enjoyed the experience greatly.
Thai Basil doesn't look like much from the outside but is immediately striking upon entrance with linen tablecloths and wine glasses adorning each table. It's a relatively small place with maybe 15 tables and can get pretty crowded on the weekend (and since they don't have a great number of employees, sometimes the service can suffer a bit). I don't consider myself any kind of expert on Thai food, but Thai Basil is easily one of the best Thai restaurants I have eaten at. It's not quite as good as, say, Thai Cuisine in Ithaca, which is cited by many as one of the best anywhere. But it's pretty close.
On the lunch buffet today they had about 10-12 different things to try. Being the glutton I am, I tried a small sample of all of them. There were some dishes quite familiar to me and a few others that were not. Among the familiar choices were the Drunken Noodles with chicken and shrimp, Pad Thai, Spicy Fried Rice, and the Thai Crispy Rolls with sweet and sour sauce. The Drunken Noodles are one of my default Thai eating options. It's a combination of flat vermicelli noodles with chicken, beef, and/or shrimp mixed with various vegetables and tends to be rather spicy. It's a good mix of flavors and I have enjoyed it when I have gotten it; today was no different. Pad Thai is what Megan usually orders and is kind of the staple item on most Thai menus. It consists of rice noodles with egg, some kind of meat, crushed peanut, and bean sprouts, and is very tasty.
Today, I tried out some other items that I hadn't sampled before, and found a couple new favorites. The Panang Curry is delicious. It's a coconut-milk based curry (as most Thai curries are) with cabbage and bell pepper with (I think) lime. Totally great. The Pineapple Curry was also out today and was similar, and very good. I got a chance to try the Spicy Basil with Beef and the Cashew Chicken and both were dishes I liked and would like to try again at some point on their own. In short, I liked everything I had and cleaned two full plates by the time I was said and done.
So you might be telling yourself...I've gotta try this buffet! Well, not so fast. They do not regularly offer the buffet, and today was the very last day of it for now. Trust me, I tried to convince the waitress (who I believe is also one of the chefs, and one of the owners) that they should keep it for weekday lunch, at least once per week, but it seemed as though she was ready for the days of the buffet to be over with after a long month of daily preparation. She did promise that it would be back around the same time next year, so pencil in Thai Basil on your calendar for next June if you want to try a lot of good Thai food for a low price of $11. For now, I can say that there isn't anything on the menu that I've had that I didn't like, the wait staff is friendly and generally quick and eager to discuss any of the dishes on their menu (I should add that they will cook your food as spicy--or not--as you desire), and the ambiance is quite nice. I haven't tried the other Thai restaurants in the area yet, but Thai Basil has certainly set the bar high and will be tough to beat.