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What’s For Lunch? Thai Basil!

thai basil
Lemongrass Chicken

Thai Basil
Corner of SW Oak & 2nd Ave
Portland, OR

Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I have a new job downtown and one of the nice benefits of that is the lunch choices. My last position was up on Skyline and my lunch option was…Pizzicato. I mean, that was good, but that was it. That was the only choice nearby.

But now…the possibilities are endless! So, I thought I would start a little review of lunch carts in downtown Portland. The first is Thai Basil, which is right across the street from my office building. How convenient!


Thai Basil Menu
Chicken or Tofu Curry — a red curry, green curry and a yellow curry
Chicken or Tofu Stir Fries — ginger, garlic, veggie lovers, spicy basil and cashew versions
Chicken or Tofu Noodle Dishes — pad thai and two other varieties
Chicken or Tofu Fried Rices — comes in pineapple, spicy basil and with extra chilis

They also have specials. These include Lemongrass Chicken, Pumpkin Curry with Chicken or Tofu, Spicy Mango Curry and Stir Fried Asparagus with Chicken or Tofu.

All of these menu items come with a salad roll and dipping sauce, and a drink (Thai ice tea or water) for $5.00. Oh and a weird little wrapped candy that I’m not crazy about (tastes like lemony caramel).


Yeah, all of this for $5.00!

I have had the pumpkin curry with chicken (excellent and spicy) and I just recently tried the lemongrass chicken, which is my favorite so far. The lemon grass gives it a subtle, Thai-ish flavor and it comes with a spicy peanut sauce, chili sauce and a heavy, molassesy soy sauce. So, so good. I was in dipping heaven. The vegetables with this dish include carrots, broccoli and bok choy (I think or maye some kind of cabbage).

Another nice thing about Thai Basil is that the portions are huge! I spend $5.00 and I have lunch that day, take my leftovers home add some coconut milk (in the case of my leftover pumpkin curry — that one I even had enough to split it with jwa and we both had some) and have a lunch to bring back to work a day or two later.

Chicken Pumpkin Curry

Thai Basil gets 3.3 bowls of rice out of 4.

3.3 rice bowls

Coming soon in the “What’s For Lunch?” series: a selection of lunch carts on SW 5th Avenue. Also, here’s a neat little lunch cart map of downtown Portland by Audrey.


Je Mange la Ville is going on vacation next week. I’ll get my SHF post up next Friday but that’s probably about it, as we’ll be in Montana most of the week, celebrating my mom’s birthday.

10 comments to What’s For Lunch? Thai Basil!

  • This has to be the perfect name for a Thai restaurant. To prove it, I’ve eaten at restaurants named Thai Basil in Hong Kong and New York City. I’m sure there are more! Wish there was a lunch cart like this near where I work.

    Have fun in Montana. It’s a beautiful state.

  • mlb

    Kalyn: Thank you! Yes, it is a pretty common name, I think :)

  • Huffy

    Just now found your blog, which is a delight (and Portland is one of my favorite cities). This reply actually references one of your previous posts, Snack Attack: Little Wild Green Fritters, from August 9th. Having read through the recipe, and based on my experience as a fairly accomplished home cook, the recipe seems a bit “funny”. I bought some lovely greens at the farmers’ market on Wednesday and want to try a batch of these, but would you mind clarifying the following:

    1. Is there truly no leavening in the flour/polenta/milk/egg mixture? I’m thinking the resulting fritters might be pretty heavy without at least a bit of baking powder.

    2. The balance of wet ingredients (1 egg, 1/4 cup milk) to dry (1 1/2 c. flour, 1/3 c. polenta) doesn’t look right to me; with that ratio, one would end up with a stiff paste rather than a batter. Shouldn’t there be more liquid??

    Thanks, and sorry for the quibble. The fritters sound awesome and your photos are lovely — but I’d rather not waste the greens if something’s amiss in the recipe.

  • I’ve GOT to get up to Portland again soon. It’s one of the best cities I’ve ever eaten in!

  • What a wonderful way to have lunch….-a-la cart…..looked very tasty!Have a safe journey…

  • mlb

    Hi Huffy:

    Furst off, thank you so much for reading!

    I just double-checked the recipe from Modern Greek by Andy Harris and that is indeed the exact recipe (the only change I made was using 1 whole egg instead of 2 egg yolks).

    You might want to try adding a little baking powder (maybe 1 tsp or 1/2 tsp) — I’d be really curious to how that works! Please let me know if you do try it.

    Oh and the greens are cooked in boiling water, so even with wringing them out a bit, they are still quite wet. That adds a lot of mositure to the mix.

    Thanks :)

  • Huffy

    Hey, mlb, thanks for the speedy reply; I appreciate you checking the recipe for me — now I can haul those greens out of the fridge and make the fritters! I’ll probably add a bit of baking powder to the batter (reporting back with the result), and now that you’ve pointed out how much moisture is left in the greens, I’m sure the mix will be wet enough.

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  • Chicken pumpkin curry — what a wonderful combination.

    Enjoy your vacation!

  • Em

    Oh yay, the lunch carts are one of my favorite things about portland! The candies are tamarind flavored, I think, and believe me they grow on you. I actually got addicted, bought 200 of them at Uwajimaya, then quickly discovered they make your breath smell funny if you eat too many. But man, it hurts so good.

  • God I wish we had stuff like that up here…