The light, fragrant, healthful cuisine of Vietnam is perfect for South Florida, yet we’re only beginning to embrace it. The love affair is bound to heat up with the opening of Basilic Vietnamese Grill in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, likely the only spot east of U.S. 441 specializing in dishes like pho, shaking beef and Vietnamese crepes. Open two months, Basilic offers a large, intriguing menu that’s exotic without being intimidating. Young, friendly American servers make the timid feel at ease. A few items are tweaked for the masses … the banh mi (sub sandwich), for example, replaces classic pates and hams with grilled chicken, beef or meatballs … but the food is delicious and affordable. Another value: $3-$4 beers, including China’s Tsingtao and Thai’s singha and wines mostly $17-$30 by the bottle and under $10 by the glass.
Ambiance: The restaurant’s name … French for basil … reflects that influence on Vietnam, but the decor is spare and hip with bamboo accents, trickling water and apple green lamps. The 49-seat dining room is already packed on weekends.
- Puffy shrimp chips served with a kicky chile sauce with lemongrass, fiery sriracha chile sauce and hoisin
- Pan-fried crepes stuffed with shrimp, sliced pork loin, bean sprouts and onions, spiked with summery mint and cilantro
- Scrumptious, lightly battered calamari and shrimp, crisp on the outside, juicy inside, plated with strips of red and green peppers, onions and fresh ginger
- Sensational starter of three small quail marinated in oyster sauce and deep-fried
- Refreshing papaya salad dressed with a sweet vinegar dressing and topped with grilled shrimp and peanuts
- Clean, light and traditional rice paper rolls wrapped around steamed shrimp, grilled pork, noodles, shredded lettuce and cucumber
- Steaming pho – beef stock poured over noodles and rare steak
- Flavorful chicken pho
- Delicious Hanoi-style vermicelli with shrimp, pork, noodles and veggies
- Rave-worthy pork chop marinated in a garlic-oyster sauce and served with white rice, lettuce and, our only quibble, anemic tomatoes
- Luxurious chicken curry mixed with sweet and white potatoes, green curry sauce and a bit of coconut milk
- Decadent fried bananas wrapped in rice paper, served atop pineapple-studded ice cream with a garnish of peanuts and caramel