“Never judge a book by it’s cover” is something you’ve all probably heard before from your parents and it’s especially a lesson to keep in mind about restaurants. On my family road trip to Kilburn I was expecting to see a big fancy Thai restaurant that everyone had been raving about so you can imagine my reaction when it turned out that 165 Kilburn High Road was in fact a tiny corner street restaurant with maybe about six to seven tables in the whole place. Regardless, with a huge queue of people keen to grab a table for the night, Spicy Basil must be doing something right, so we joined the back of the queue in anticipation of a table.
It turned out to our advantage that the line moved pretty quickly, so within ten minutes the four of us were awarded a table that we nicely squished around.
The menu had pages and pages of food so I was ridiculously spoilt for choice and ended up choosing blindly.
I ordered a carrot and orange juice, whilst the others opted for madafu (a WHOLE coconut!). The coconut water was cold and sweet and the flesh was creamy, however it does not obviously compare to the ones I had had on the white sandy beaches of Goa and Hawaii, but it came close to second.
First up.. Chicken and Prawn Dumplings
These were small steamed parcels stuffed with a combination of chicken and prawns. They arrived suspiciously fast but I’m not one to complain so I gobbled up these mini goodies. They weren’t sticky nor were they too dry so they had the perfect texture and were not too filling so we were able to enjoy the new few dishes.
Next came the Spicy Prawn Crackers
These were your average prawn crackers with a subtle ‘back-of-the-throat’ kick of spice. Fresher and crispier than normal, the crackers were delightful to eat but not a necessity.
Whilst waiting in queue, my sister, Z, and I had eyed up a table that was digging in to some sort of soup, so once seated i couldn’t help but to ask what soup this table was drinking.
It turns out that it was the Tom Yum soup, which came in either chicken or prawn versions so we opted for the chicken version and boy were we not disappointed. Chunky pieces of spicy chicken floating amongst thick cut vegetables in a hot strong soup was delivered to us and with each sip we couldn’t help but to grab the glass of water next to us to cool down the flames in our mouths. Well I guess that’s where Spicy Basil got its name from!
What came next was spice, more spice and much much more spice. Usually having a hot dish can be off putting as your mouth can be blistering disabling you from tasting the actual food but Spicy Basil kept their levels of spice balanced and so you can enjoy the spice without it being too overbearing.
Chicken Green Curry
Who can go to a Thai restaurant without ordering a green curry! This delicious creamy coconut-y curry came with a mountain load of fluffy white rice and contained large shreds of chicken. It arrived hot and steaming to the table and wasn’t too thick or runny. In comparison to green curry that I’ve had at more pricey and upmarket restaurants, the one at Spicy Basil definitely holds the title for being the tastiest.
Beef with Garlic and Pepper.
The beef was a bit chewy but this was my favourite dish of the trip. Each bite of beef packed a punch of flavour and even more so when mixed with the rice/noodle combination. Thinking about it now is making me drool a little… just a little.
Prawns with Garlic, Chilli and Basil.
The prawns were rich, sweet and spicy; the perfect combination, all dolloped onto a huge pillow of rice and noodles.
Stir Fried Egg Noodles with Beef.
The noodles were sweet and swamped the plate. In every forkful, there was a piece of succulent juicy beef with soft vegetables. The best part was that the dish remained moist and tasty and did not dry out.
Ok, so take a guess how much it was for each person? £10, £15, £20? Nope! It was less than £10 per person for the amount that we ordered! The quality and quantity of the food was excellent and worth every penny; the staff was patient, hardworking and still managed to hold a smile with the continuous amount of orders bombarding them.
For those lucky people who live nearby and don’t wish to wait in line, they do a delivery or pick up service, which to me seemed efficient and fast, so do not hesitate to give them a call.
From what I said before, do not judge a restaurant by its appearance and take a step into the world of small food establishments; I guarantee that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
To Spicy Basil, thanks for giving me the opportunity to taste real Thai food without burning a hole in my wallet.
Halal Status: All meats served are halal. No pork or alcohol. Last updated August 2022.
Address:165 Kilburn High Rd, London NW6 7HY