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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

#42: Pla Song Kruang at Basil Spice Thai Cuisine

Posted By on Wed, Oct 27, 2010 at 12:05 PM

The pla song kruang at Basil Spice Thai Cuisine - IAN FROEB
  • Ian Froeb
  • The pla song kruang at Basil Spice Thai Cuisine
One of the challenges of reviewing a restaurant with a lengthy menu, as often happens at Thai, Vietnamese and Indian restaurants, is balancing the reader's curiosity about old favorites (curry, pho, etc.) with my desire to try dishes I've never eaten before.

Sometimes, to achieve this balance, I plan out in advance what I will order over multiple visits. Sometimes, I throw that plan out entirely -- I really don't want to have pad thai today -- and order with barely more consideration than if I'd shut my eyes and pointed at the menu. That was how I ended up trying pla song kruang at Basil Spice Thai Cuisine.

When I reviewed Basil Spice in 2008, a fried trout fillet was the base of this dish. It's now listed on the menu as basa, a type of catfish. This isn't an improvement -- the basa barely registers a flavor -- but the trout isn't what made me fall in love with this dish.

Indeed, pla song kruang might be best described as a salad that just happens to be served atop fried fish. The colorful jumble includes slivers of green apple, red onion and carrot as well as cilantro and whole cashews in a dressing of fresh lime juice spiked with a mild chile heat. (You can crank up that heat, if you like, though I don't think this dish needs it.)

The dressing is exceptionally tart, a smack to the palate, yet the dish as a whole maintains a lovely balance of sweet and sour, sharpness and savor.

Basil Spice Thai Cuisine
3183 South Grand Boulevard

I'm counting down -- in no particular order -- 100 of my favorite dishes in St. Louis. Some are well-known, others obscure. Some are expensive, others dirt cheap. All of them, I guarantee, are delicious. Please do not hesitate to share your own favorites via the comments thread.


#43: Chori pollo at Mi Ranchito
#44: Pizza at La Pizza
#45: Fried chicken at Young's Restaurant & Ice Creamery
#46: The Philly Cheesesteak at 9th Street Deli
#47: Smoked chicken wings at Flavors BBQ Sports Bar & Grill
#48: Coffee and a pastry at 222 Artisan Bakery
#49: The torta ahogada at Taqueria Durango
#50: The "Morganford Mediterranean" Sandwich at Local Harvest Café & Catering

#51: Vegetable korma at Gokul Snacks & Sweets
#52: Schnitzel & spaetzle at Iron Barley
#53: Oxtail stew at De Palm Tree
#54: Pho at Pho Long
#55: Gyro at Anthonino's Taverna
#56: The Lemon Drop Cupcake at the Cup
#57: Pupusas at Tres Banderas
#58: Gumbo at the Gumbo Shop
#59: The burger at Newstead Tower Public House
#60: Quesadillas tradicionales at Milagro Modern Mexican

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