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Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities at Basil Canteen

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 10:45 PM

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Basil Canteen (1489 Folsom), is an offshoot of nearby Basil Thai (1175 Folsom) that opened last summer. Where the original Basil specializes in more formal dishes, the Canteen's focus is on small plates and snacks from the streets of Thailand. It's a great spot to stop for a light meal before hitting the multitude of nightclubs around the corner on 11th Street.

The Sai Ouah ($7) comes from Chiang Mai in the northern part of Thailand. Layering slices of curried pork sausage with bits of lemon, onion, peanuts, chili and young ginger provides an explosion of spice that left me grasping for all glasses of water on the table. It offers the heady buzz that only comes from really hot food.

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Sakhoo Saimoo ($6) is a specialty from the other end of the country in Bangkok, a delicious blur between appetizer and dessert as steamed tapioca encases sweet minced pork and fried garlic. These probably won't win over those who harbor textural issues with tapioca, but it's hard to imagine turning off people who do enjoy the chewy starch. In fact, the overall sweetness is something that might just linger in one's gastronomic dreams later.

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Tamara Palmer


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