in Chantilly claims its fame from Executive Chef and owner Nongkran Daks, winner of Food Network's "Pad Thai Throw Down" with celebrity chef Bobby Flay.
Located in a modest plaza on Lee Jackson Highway, the décor is simple and the service is shall we say, efficient – that is, matter-of-fact and moderately attentive. A popular weekday lunch spot with working professionals, by noon the dining room is nearly full of people who don’t seem to mind the “no split checks at lunch” rule.
I started with an appetizer called Golden Cups ($5.95) which were crisp bite-sized shells filled with seasoned ground chicken, corn and red peppers. Ultimately, a tiny Thai taco, the cups were garnished with cilantro and plated with a decorative carrot flower. Delightful in appearance, texture and taste with the most forward being fish sauce and cilantro, a pair that is simply meant to be together.
Next, I enjoyed Tom Kha Gai soup ($4.95) made with a light coconut milk broth, chicken and vegetables. The mushrooms were fresh – clearly not canned or frozen – and the soup was flavored with a delightful zing of lime and brightened with cilantro stems, though I would have preferred leaves.
This was not the first time I ordered Thai Basil’s most acclaimed dish: Chef Dak’s Pad Thai with shrimp ($9.95). Anxious to love the award-winning noodles, it again failed to impress me due to its extreme sweetness. I requested a wedge of lime to bring some balance to the ultra-caramelized flavor. However, the shrimp in this dish was especially tender and provided a scrumptious component to the meal.
The final dish was Gang Dang ($8.95 lunch/$11.95 dinner), a red curry with chicken and vegetables that was beautifully spiced, earthy and just a tad sweet. The green beans were a very fresh and crisp, bringing a clean texture to the dish. Served with plain white rice, this entrée was both tasty and filling.
While there were a few flaws with the experience, I found to offer freshly prepared flavorful Thai food for a reasonable price, and I will return.
Ambiance: Casual attire is appropriate in this setting of simple traditional Thai décor. Noise level is moderate when busy, but you can still easily hold a conversation.
Patrons: Employee name tags adorn the necks of most lunch-time diners. The restaurant is family-friendly for both lunch and dinner with high chairs available. A separate vegetarian menu is also available upon request.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.