The Basil Leaf comes to High Point
By: Jennifer Zeleski
As High Point’s food scene continues to grow, my eyes are always open for new, sprouting restaurants. The Basil Leaf Thai and Sushi Restaurant is one of the newest additions, neighboring other newcomers on the block, Duck Donuts and Burger Batch, all of which are located right off of NC Highway 68.
The Basil Leaf’s first location is found in Winston-Salem, and the new High Point location is its first expansion into another area of the Triad. The soft opening was held on May 7, and a variety of solid Facebook reviews followed, so I was eager to try it for myself.
My boyfriend Peyton and I decided to stop in for a Friday lunch, hoping to avoid a potential wait time at dinner and to experience the dining room in the daylight. The first thing I noticed about the restaurant space was just how bright it was. There are (almost) floor to ceiling windows that allow sunlight to fall on every glass table, each topped with a purple orchid for a nice modern touch. I was amazed to find that there wasn’t a single table open, but the host quickly ushered us to the bar as they cleaned one up for us from departing guests.
Although we were seated promptly, we were quick to notice that the staff seemed a bit overwhelmed by the volume of those dining in. The slight delay in the time allowed me to get a detailed glance at the menu, where one could find anything from curry to sashimi. Some dishes were recognizable, and others were unique to the location. I settled on the lunch special Pad Thai with chicken, thanks to the suggestion of a repeat customer at the bar. Peyton decided on the green curry lunch special.
Both of the lunch specials came with the choice of a salad or a spring roll, which we split in order to get a taste for both. The salad and spring roll were both accompanied by a small bowl of tofu soup, which also included scallions, carrots, cilantro and cabbage for added crunch. I enjoyed the taste of the soup, which was equally sweet and savory, without even a hint of salt. Peyton compared it to a very molasses-like flavor. Aside from the soup, the spring roll lacked the flavor I hoped for. The sweet sauce paired with it was a bit of a compliment, but overall, the fried flavor took it over. In the future, I would be more likely to opt for the salad instead, which featured freshly-chopped lettuce, shredded carrots, and a ginger peanut dressing.
Our food came out steaming, and the presentation of both dishes was admirable. The dishes of those around us were also plated beautifully, and I made a mental note to glance at the plating of their sushi rolls in the future.
I was excited to take my first bite of Pad Thai, which I had never tried in the past, but I was also slightly intimidated by the portion of chicken and noodles that would be plenty for my appetite. The sauce looked as though it could have been heavy by the end of the dish, but it wasn’t nearly swimming in sauce as I have experienced in the past.
The Pad Thai was sweet, and the chicken was tender, which I appreciated. The texture of the rice noodles was great, and the dish didn’t include much egg, which I preferred. I opted to leave out the peanuts that came on the side for a few bites, but they did add a nice crush when added in. I thoroughly enjoyed adding the fresh squeeze of lime, and wish I would have had more to cut the overall sweetness of the dish. The bites that I found the most flavor were those that included a bit of the carrot and green onion. I would have loved to have had more throughout, but I enjoyed it. The noodle texture and flavor was quickly addicting but could have become sickening for those who aren’t fans of overly sweet dishes.
After eating what I believed to be a decent amount of food, I realized I had hardly put a dent in the dish. With that being said, it is important to note that the lunch portions are more than enough, and priced well for what you receive.
Thanks to our curiosity, and growing a bit tired of our respective dishes, Peyton and I switched our plates halfway through to try and get a feel for both.
The green curry was also sweet, with a mild spice that lingered after each bite. The chicken was also tender and carried the curry spice well, but the vegetables were the real winners. The eggplant was soft and bursting with the curry flavor, but I had to ignore the bell peppers due to its slightly overwhelming flavor. The bamboo shoots might be a deterrent for some, but I do love them in curry, so it stepped up the dish for me. The curry paired with white rice took it to a higher level, but it wasn’t nearly in the realm of better curries I have had before. But if you do prefer a sweeter, vegetable-packed and flavorful green curry, this could be the one for you.
Although I had somewhat high compliments of the food, I could not deny the issue we had with our service. After finishing our meals, we waited approximately 30 minutes for a server to return with our check. Instead, we’re surprised with free ice cream due to our long wait. We appreciated the kind gesture, but we were already so full from our meals, and yet still, no one brought us our check so we could leave. Luckily, we had time to spare. But if I were on a quick lunch break, it could have set me back more time than I needed to spend, especially since I was seated, served and finished eating in a timely manner.
Our initial experience was overshadowed by the lack of efficient service and the somewhat average food, but I will try not to let it deter me from returning. The sushi menu sounded delectable, and there were dozens of other options to try including house specialties, stir-fries and fried rice.
I would suggest trying the Thai tea that several customers ordered, which was black tea over ice, topped with half-and-half and served in a mason jar mug. Just the midday pick-me-up you might need for a summer lunch break. Until next time, I hope The Basil Leaf has a chance to grow a bit more in its service and to hopefully bloom at the new location.
Jenn Zeleski is a student contributor to YES! Weekly. She is originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Communications at High Point University.
The Basil Leaf is located at 2766 NC Highway 68, Suite 111, High Point, NC 27265