Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 6, 2011: Sweet Basil

Cindy and I were swanning around South Yarra and took the opportunity to try out Cheap Eats' recommended vegetarian place for the inner-south: Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine. Unlike many Thai places where 'vegetarian' may well mean "includes fish sauce and shrimp powder", Sweet Basil are on top of our meat-free requirements. They've got a specific vegetarian section in their menu with more than twenty options to choose from.

The place itself is fitted out with a bit more class than the fluoro Ying Thai (or indeed many of the cheap and cheerful Thai places around Melbourne). They were very quiet by the time we turned up so the service was highly attentive - water glasses were topped up as soon as we'd sipped from them and everything arrived speedily.

We decided to just have an entree and a main between the two of us, starting with the the Tofu Tord (lightly fried tofu served with a crushed peanut and plum sauce, $8.90).

The sauce that came with this was an excellent combination of sweet, tangy and peanut flavours, but I would have liked to have it soak into the tofu a bit more somehow. Dipping didn't really work that well - the frying of the tofu chunks had given them a crispy and impermeable skin.

We went with faux-meat for our main, if only because it's rare to find a Thai place that has anything other than tofu (aside from the excellent Peace Harmony in Sydney of course). The mock-duck served in a red curry sauce with vegies and lychees ($21.90) was probably just adequate.

According to Cindy, the 'duck' looked suspiciously like Wu-Chung canned duck, and the curry itself was a little on the sweet side for my tastes. The lychees were an interesting touch but I think I'd generally prefer a slightly sharper flavour than what Sweet Basil were serving up.  To be fair, we didn't specify a spice level so they were probably going easy on us just in case.

Sweet Basil is the most veg-friendly Thai place we've been to in Melbourne and is clearly shooting for a classier Thai experience than most other local options. Still, at $20+ for a main, I was hoping for something a bit more impressive. We'll probably give it another shot, if only to sample from the wide array of choices.

There's just one blog review of Sweet Basil out there, a positive write-up from A-Pluz.

Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine
209 Commercial Road, South Yarra
9827 3390
licensed with BYO wine only
veg entrees $8.90, mains $15.90-$21.90

Accessibility: Looks good - a flat entry, enough space and table service.


  1. I went here once years ago, with a big group of about 25 people. I remember thoroughly enjoying myself because of the quality of the company, but cannot recall a single, solitary thing about the food other than a faint recollection of slight disappointment.

  2. Indeed, Hayley! Great that they have interesting veg options on the menu, but they don't quite seem to live up to the prices.