Holy Basil, Ban Man! - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Holy Basil, Ban Man!

Holy Basil, Ban Man!

Published April 8, 2011

Time for another one of my own miniature weekend film festivals. No, not a weekend of Pedro Almodóvar films, nor their naughty Thai remakes (imagine that). I am sure this pun of a title has been used ad nauseam (I fret to search the interwebs), and so I apologise for my (mis)use. With my date and I still juggling a newborn, we spend another weekend indoors with an assortment of Thai new wave cinema accompanied with some tasty Thai takeaway.
I have a love affair with Thai cuisine, with its versatility to please different palettes, harmony of flavours, and presentation and arrangement of colour. Appropriately nestled alongside of one of Reykjavík’s most colourful rows of buildings, Ban Thai resides like a carefully cultivated orchid, where it has blossomed into a landmark over its twenty years serving the most delectable of authentic Thai dishes.
Despite the economy, Ban Thai has had the same menu and prices since the day that they opened.  This alone has kept me a regular patron. But, word on the street was that Ban Thai has a new menu. We surfed over to their website, which has also remained unchanged for twenty years, only to discover the same museum of animated gifs leftover from the Geocities era. Too occupied to walk over to Hlemmur for a new menu, we just ordered some proven standards.
Everything at Ban Thai is fresh and made to order, so arriving twenty minutes after placing our order should give me some time to look over the new menu. Holy Basil, Ban-Man! The menu matured from a simple page into a book, complete with beneficial health facts and nutritional values for every dish. There are chapters of new dishes. This is going to keep me busy for quite awhile…drool.
Overwhelmed with new smells and now trounced by my hasty decision, I headed home with my old pal’s squid and shrimp. Their company was pleasantly delightful, despite being takeaway. Opening the box revealed a colour palette ranging from blazing alizarin crimson to bright viridian green. I had ordered Pad kraphao, a traditional dish of tender squid stir fried with Thai holy basil, spring onions, chillies, and garlic. As expected, fresh squid, al dente vegetables, basil forward with a mild capsaicin finish.  A phenomenal dish for a modest 1.690 ISK.
We could not wait to sample some of the new dishes, and just yesterday headed back for another round. We placed our order, and sat down to continue reading the menu. To our surprise, we were served. I looked down at the sleeping baby in my arms, glanced over at my date, and decided to enjoy our first meal out with baby. The soothing environment was calming for both us and a newborn baby. While she slept, our feelings of being tied down to takeaway were lifted. We indulged!
Rating: 5/5

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