Since I started this blog, one of the most memorable things I have eaten is Rendang Beef… enjoyed at an Indonesian resto in De Pijp, Amsterdam. I have been trying to recreate this meal ever since. Now, I have been able to find a couple of Malaysian places in Toronto that serve it, but we haven’t tried them out yet. This past Friday, I was walking down to the foot of my street to grab a Pizza. On the way, I stopped in at Basil Thai Kitchen to get a take-out menu (our neighbours highly recommend this place). Wouldn’t you know that the elusive Rendang Beef was right there on the menu… right there at the end of my street?!?! Needless to say, I called my wife to let her know our dinner plans had changed. And although the Rendang Beef was not the same as what I tried in Amsterdam (more on that later), we found a fantastic, local take-away that has defaulted as our new go-to. We loved Khmer Thai when we lived in the West end. Now we have Basil Thai Kitchen.
Basil Thai Kitchen is packed (a full house), and I need to order a couple of other dishes to compliment the Rendang Beef. I ask the owner about some of the house specialties. He lets me know that his family is actually from Burma, but they make a lot of Thai food because more customers are familiar with it. His extended family all work at the restaurant, and the bustling kitchen is humming like a well-oiled assembly line on this busy Friday night. He recommends the Pann Tay Kauk Sware ($9.00), which is a stir-fried Noodle dish that’s full of Chicken, Tomato and Cabbage. Served with Chilies and Lime, this is a delicious take on Curried Noodles. It’s my wife’s favourite dish of the night, so we’ll definitely be ordering it again next time.
We also get an order of Pad See Yew ($9.00) a Thai Noodle dish made from flat Rice Noodles. Chicken, Shrimp, Egg and Bean Sprouts are mixed with the Noodles and stir-fried in Fish and Soy Sauces. We love this rendition because there’s a slight crispy texture to the noodles that we haven’t experienced at other places.
Garlic Chicken ($9.00) is on the menu board as one of the specials of the day, so that’s an easy decision. Lots of Broccoli, lots of Chicken, lots of Coriander, lots of Garlic. Good stuff!
And finally there’s the Rendang Beef ($10.00), something I’ve been searching for since Amsterdam. The overseas’ version consisted of cubed Stewing Beef, tenderized with a dry-rub slathering of umpteen spices. Basil Thai Kitchen’s is more of a Beef Stew with a thick, spicy gravy that’s full of Onion and Carrot. Although nothing like my original experience, I am not disappointed. It’s delicious atop Jasmine Rice. I’m told versions of this dish vary from region to region, and I really like the Burmese rendition… albeit nothing like the Indonesian take on it.
It’s funny sometimes how food experiences come to be. A foggy walk around Amsterdam led to one the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. I’ve been looking to recreate that meal for the past few years, only to stumble on a rendition of it at the foot of my street. Basil Thai Kitchen has a number of dishes on the menu that will ensure a memorable dining experience for you, too. Burmese food is not easy to find in Toronto. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do. Who knows… it may leave you wanting to recreate some of the tastes for years to come.