basil thai and sushi

by erin thursby
Basil Thai and Sushi is relatively new to the Southbank area, but it’s become popular as a lunch and dinner hotspot.
It is an upscale Thai restaurant, so the prices for dinner entrees range from $17-30, with some items labeled market price. Despite all the whining Jacksonvillians do because of high priced Thai places, the facts are these: higher priced Thai places get and keep a following here, as long their potions are good, their quality is great and they don’t get above a certain point on pricing.
Jacksonvillians like their Thai food with good wine and a posh atmosphere. The lower the price, the more probable atmosphere will be sacrificed.
Their wine list isn’t just good because of the selection, it’s good because they have lots of by-the-glass options. I simply can’t finish a bottle of wine by myself, and if I take it home it ends up being used in cooking. I don’t find their list to be overpriced. For example, the Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling is $20 a bottle and $5.50 a glass. While it isn’t the cheapest I’ve seen it for, it’s more than reasonable. I have seen it at $40 in some places and cringed, knowing what I would pay for it at the supermarket or wine store. Most of the bottles here go for $30-50 and by the glass are about $7-11 on average, and the prices seem fair. There are more upscale choices on the wine menu, so if you’re living it up and want to spend a couple of hundred or so on some Dom, you can. Or you can stay away from the bubbly and tackle a serious red or a Cabernet blend.
If you’re looking for outstanding sushi in Jacksonville– start at Basil Thai & Sushi. I’ll admit I was skeptical. Generally when a restaurant here tacks “and Sushi” to the end of their name, I don’t have very high hopes for the quality or presentation of their sushi. Coupling Thai and sushi isn’t anything new, it’s just new to Jacksonville. In St. Pete and Miami’s South Beach, it’s a tried and true concept. Here in Jacksonville it feels trendy because we’re not used to the idea.
Their Rainbow Roll is $14, a few dollars over what most places in the area charge, but the their rolls are conspicuously excellent. For many people, it’s worth those dollars to pay for that quality.
I sampled their spicy tuna and their salmon sashimi. Instead of being encased in seaweed, the tuna spinach and crab salad was cradled in cucumber. On the plate, lines of contrasting sauce add to the flavor, one a ginger dressing, the other a sriracha chili.
Lunch is the time to get a deal for some of their Thai meals, since Phad Thai with tofu, chicken, beef or pork jumps from $9 at lunch to almost twice that at dinner ($17). At the very least, you can use lunch as your recon mission before you take your girl (or guy) there.
We’ve heard good things about their duck, both the basil crispy ($23) and the curry ($22). While Chilean Sea Bass is always good, it’s even better in a green curry Thai preparation ($27). Prices for these Basil Specialties stay the same for lunch and dinner. Sushi prices also stay the same for lunch or dinner.
Their Thai food can reach the heat you crave, but the presentation and taste might strike some as slightly Americanized. While there is a little fusion flavor at Basil, it’s just good food. Your barometer of Thai genuineness will depend on your own experiences of Thai food and the particular regions you’re accustomed to.
They do bring the heat, if you’re into that! On the spicy entrees, which include some sort of pepper in the recipe or the sauce, you have six levels heat to choose from, from mild at level one to Thai hot at level six.
It can be a little difficult to get in during the dinner and lunch rush because it’s so popular, but you can always take a seat at the bar and down a couple of glasses of good wine before your meal.