An oldie but goodie, this place has been in Norman’s downtown on Main Street for quite some time. I first tried the place about six years ago when my wife and I were still dating and the experience was not a good one, although I think that had little to do with the restaurant or the food. My wife does not like Thai food. This fact was set in stone long before she ever tried Thai food, and I doubt it will ever change, but on that one occasion she gave in and went with me. Since then I eat those sweet curries and stir fries on my own. I recall having some sort of Pad Thai and peanut sauce concoction that evening that was alright but probably not their best dish to begin with (it is no longer on the menu). My, at the time, girlfriend settled on fried, butterflied shrimp on a stick. This is the point where things went downhill quickly. The shrimp had been battered and fried on the stick and had become fused with the wood itself. When we tried to remove one of them, it flew across the restaurant, much to our embarrassment. That was when Heather decided that she was never again eating Thai, and the meal ended shortly thereafter.
For this visit I was alone and it went much better. I don’t know if the two are related. Just the same, I have to say that the lunch menu was very, very good. The prices are a little steeper than your regular lunch, so maybe more of a special occasion place, but it’s worth it. The full menu also had slightly higher prices to account for higher portion sizes and more side items. They had four Thai style curries that are regularly available with a special fifth type for that day. They also had traditional Pad Thais and cold noodle dishes, as well as several stir fry options, one of which eventually won my favor, but everything on that menu looked so good that it took me a while to eventually decide on a course.
I went with the beef Pad Ped and I would definitely recommend it. A stir fry mix of steak, red bell peppers, bamboo shoots, onions and haricots vert (crispy French style green beans), that normally comes in a red curry sauce made with coconut milk. They were kind enough to switch it out with the same type of sauce, but made with Panang style curry. The stir fries and curries came with a side of steamed jasmine rice, but my scoop was a little overcooked, making it tough instead of light and fluffy. All of their dishes had a choice of vegetable spring roll or Tom Yum soup made with your choice of chicken or tofu. The soup was delicious, but for those not familiar with Tom Yum, it can vary wildly between restaurants and sometimes even between visits to the same place; the soup is a blend of spices, such as Chili, lemon-grass and coriander, among others, mixed in a clear broth, with aromatic vegetables and mushrooms added later, and not every place includes proteins so it might be good to ask. The meal was delicious and the portion was large so I didn’t have enough room to try dessert. I was a little sad because some of those desserts looked pretty different, like fried banana lai, or mango rice. If anyone tries dessert there let me know, because I am definitely interested.
I can think of at least two other Thai places that are equally good and a little cheaper, but they definitely try hard to fill you up at Sweet Basil. If you are in Norman and looking for authentic Asian this place does a pretty good job, and in the nice quiet atmosphere the high-backed booths give you a very private feel while eating.
Sorry for the graininess of the photo, but the low lighting did not agree with the camera on the iPhone.