Without a doubt, the best new spot in town. My wife and I are BIG fans. Aaron, you are right, the beef short rib is the bomb. It's tender and has just enough spice.
great food, small portions, took $17 to fill up, limited menu
The folks from Street Hero have finally opened up a brick and mortar location just off King Street and we are so glad they did. If you have had the pleasure of enjoying one of their Banh Mi's at the Charleston Farmer's Market, you now have the good fortune to enjoy these any day of the week (except Monday). The store is clean and bright and the staff was on top of it when we joined them for dinner. Everyone was engaging and passionate about what they were doing and it came through in the finished product. There is beer and wine available as well if you want to stay a while.
This little sandwich bar makes it simple to enjoy the Vietnamese specialty of Banh Mi. Their menu is straight forward - choose a vehicle for delivery of amazing flavor and then choose what it will be filled/topped with. They offer salads, but we opted to sample a variety of their tacos and traditional sandwiches. The tacos are double wrapped corn tortillas griddled to a nice exterior texture. They were good, but we both felt that the corn flavor from the tortillas was a bit too prominent in the dish, robbing a little from the otherwise delicious filling. But the bread....oh man the bread. According to the owner, their rolls are baked by someone local who shall remain nameless. I would compare the rolls to the texture of a Cuban bread, thin crusty exterior and a pillowy-soft interior. I noticed when Jason was assembling our sandwiches he even pulled out the center of the roll, an often overlooked step that is so important. Both incarnations came with the same array of fresh condiments, including pickled carrots and radishes, lots of fresh cilantro and basil, spicy mayo, and a crunchy topping of fried onions.
We tried their 'fillins' of country pate and ham, five spice pork, red curry beef shortrib, and ginger lemongrass chicken. The flavors of each were unique and bold, and it's nice that they offer such a range because each of these really provides a totally different experience texturally. The beef shortrib was so rich and tender, I wanted a bowl of it. The pork was very nicely spiced, but it is a ground meat so we didn't love this one as much due to the lack of structure in the sandwich. The chicken was juicy and had a great flavor, bright with lemon and ginger, but lacked the richness we love so much in a Banh Mi. Which leads us to the winner - the pate and Vietnamese ham combo was our favorite as a cohesive sandwich. This was truly a perfect Banh Mi in the classic way. If you have never had one before, I would start here to get the baseline of what this sandwich is supposed to be. All of the other variations are done very well and it is well worth your time to sample the whole gamut.
I lived on the west coast for years where Vietnamese and Thai restaurants were cheap, plentiful, and authentic. It's rare to find the same level of tastiness here. I wish I could remember the name of the shrimp and noodle dish I ordered...it was by far the best Vietnamese food (or any Asian food for that matter) I've had in Charleston. Perfectly flavored and spiced. The noodles were a perfect texture and the portion was enough to get full and take some home. My husband had a rice dish with several different types of meat that was good, too. And I'm glad they have Westbrook White Thai on the menu! There was a really friendly hostess and the server was nice enough-just very busy. My only complaint is that it was too loud in the restaurant. They were playing club music loud enough to make conversation difficult (we sat upstairs).
*sweet not sweat...ha!
I really want to find great Phad Thai in town (I'm close to giving up), but Pick Thai's was completely flavorless. It was on the right track because it thankfully lacked that sweat red sauce that lots of restaurants use; however, there were no spices and no peanuts. Maybe the other dishes are better.
Five stars! Everything is wonderful. Try the desserts!
My girlfriend and I walked over on a prime Saturday evening around 8:00pm. We had a short 10-15 minute wait but were able to sit at the bar and we both got drinks. The bartender was both knowledgeable and attentive. I tried the CO Singapore sling which was better then average. If there are no seats available at the bar then you have to kind of awkwardly wait against a wall behind the people sitting at the bar. After our brief wait we were seated at the top of the stairs. Overall they have a number of small 2 top tables for couples, 1 small section of couch seating maybe for 4-5 people and a number of community tables which is probably why people don't ever seem of have to wait very long despite the restaurant being busy.
We started with the pork and ginger gyoza ($5) and the crispy pork and crab spring rolls ($6) which were both phenomenal. The dumplings were some of the best in town and the spring rolls were crispy, delicious and not the least bit greasy.
For our entrees I ordered the beef pho ($12) and my girlfriend ordered the pad thai ($14). The pho came out steaming hot with perfectly rare beef slices. It was well seasoned and came with a side of sriarcha like chili sauce to spice it up a little if desired. The pad thai was on par with Basil's. I think they're both delicious and I wouldn't be able to pick one over the other.
The only sour spot was the service. Our server was very rude, dismissive and inattentive. I thought that perhaps this was an isolated incident however the table beside of ours was having a similar experience with a different server. I was a little disappointed because in my opinion having excellent food is usually the hard part, having a friendly well managed staff should be the easy part.
Overall the food was wonderful and I will definitely go back even if its just for takeout!
Overall: a solid, rich menu in a very cool space without a huge price tag
I went as part of a trio on Saturday; 8pm no problem getting a seat (that won't last) but there was a solid crowd. There's no hostess station, you sorta meander upstairs if you don't want to sit at the bar. The music was quite loud downstairs, for better or worse, and permeated upstairs. I think they've mounted their subwoofers in the ceiling above the bar, which makes the benches upstairs vibrate. This might not be a negative.
Our server was knowledgeable about the menu, saying that they'd taken time to familiarize the staff with all the dishes. That was good. In addition to reasonably-priced (for Charleston) wine by the glass and bottle, they have several draughts (Westbrook White Thai, Kirin Ichiban, etc...) as well as interesting cocktails. I got this gin with ginger martini. DRINK THIS, but especially with your food.
Speaking of food: the 5-spice Pork Banh Mi is slap-your-momma, ridiculously good. The edamame spring rolls, shrimp dumplings, tofu and curry noodles are very good. The Vietnamese ramen bowl is just okay, but not anything that would sully the otherwise very good meal. I think its failing where the others succeeded so well was that it lacked any distinct, fresh-veggie/herb taste that leapt from the other dishes. The menu is great for sharing within a group, which we did.
With drinks and probably too much food for three, our bill was $24/person with tax, plus tip. Not bad.
They're getting lunch hours very soon (maybe already) as well as local delivery soon.
We eat here a few times a month and it's consistently good. The biggest downside is the smell of the grocery store, which ranges from "interesting" to "oh my god I'm gonna hurl!" I have tried nearly everything on the menu and keep coming back to P1 and H3. Their goi cuon are the best I have had in Charleston. Be extremely careful when ordering because the woman who works there has a hard time distinguishing between the sounds of "B" and "P". Your best bet is to point to it on the menu so you can be sure. She's better in French than English so that's another option.
I keep going back. Today, for lunch, I started with the wonderful Thai-style hot wings that were dripping with a SPICY red pepper sauce. As a main dish I jumped into a plate of Thai-hot stir-fried basil with chicken and brown sauce. Excellent. The brown sauce by itself would be a great dish. My dining partner, not the most adventurous diner, opted for the veggie fried rice and declared it the BEST in the Charleston area. And believe me, she has sampled that dish in almost every Asian restaurant around. This place is in the same strip center as the new Kohl's in West Ashley (across the street from Home Depot). Go. Try. You'll love it.
WOW! Chicken Pad Prik spiced up to "Thai Hot". Perfectly prepared dish with red and green peppers, onions and a terrific brown sauce. This was a 2 napkin dinner; not for the hands or face but for the runny nose. I'll be back. No more trips downtown or off island for me. James Island is very fortunate to have this fine dining establishment.
But, alas, Quyen is closed.
Not the ONLY place for Pho in Charleston, but out of the two choices, pretty delicious. Quyen's Pho is better.
The best and now only place for delicious pho.
awesome, i have tried 4 different items on the menu and each one was amazing! they are very friendly, just make sure to bring cash!! Best place for a unaxpensive, delicious and healthy lunch or dinner.
I have now eaten here on two occasions and been impressed with the dishes that I have ordered. My last trip here I enjoyed Pad Thai. It was prepared perfectly, the peanuts on the side so that you added as little or as much as you wanted. The spices were perfect the right blend, this is what Pad Thai is supposed to taste like. I really wonder why people are still waiting in line at the other Thai restaurant downtown. At least here you can taste the seasoning in the meats (they don't pre-cook the meats).
I know I'll be going back here again!
I haven't been to the King St location, but we ate last night at Basil in Mt. Pleasant. We were also taken aback at the inability to make reservations (they informed us they only made reservations for parties of eight or more), and though we arrived at 7 pm, we had a 30 min. wait. The bar upstairs was great, however.
The food and service was terrific, but we wished we had stayed upstairs and eaten at the bar - the restaurant was so loud we (and our server) had to shout to be heard. Horrible! I know some people like that kind of atmosphere but this was painful. We'll be going back for the food - we'll just eat upstairs at the bar.
Susieg: Ever hear of Spoletto? Maybe that is why this "gem" was jam packed on a Sunday.
Basil does not take reservations and so we thought if we got there before 7:00 we might not have to wait. Not so much. The restaurant was packed and there was a 20-25 minute wait. When asked if we preferred outside seating to inside we said that it didn’t matter and our time was moved up a bit. While window shopping our way through King Street the phone rang and our table was ready.
We were seated at one of the six four-tops outside the restaurant. Small planter boxes and Tiki torches adorn the patio (and help to keep the bugs away!) I thought it was going to be very warm with the heat wave we’ve been having, but much to my surprise there was a lovely breeze and it was a wonderful way to people watch as we waited for our server to arrive.
Our server was very attentive, but not intrusive. He was easily able to answer questions about the menu and made a few suggestions as well. We ordered our appetizer of Fresh Basil Rolls and continued to peruse the menu.
In sleuthing their website this morning not only is Chef Suntorn an accomplished chef, but he has also traveled the globe. His career started in Bangkok, Thailand and he has worked in England, Paris, United Arab Emirate, Miami, San Francisco and Boston. The site doesn’t say how he landed here in Charleston, but we’re just glad he did.
In a bat of an eye our appetizer arrived and we placed our dinner order. The Fresh Basil Rolls were simple and beautiful. The “house sauce” was a spicy sweet concoction (Chef Suntorn’s house sauce) with ground fresh ginger floating on top. The Basil Rolls were delicate and had an incredible fresh flavor that was only enhanced when dipped in the sauce. I hoped that dinner would be just as good. The website said that all of the dishes and sauces are not made ahead of time but are authentic and made from scratch. We could really taste the difference.
Our entrees arrived after we had finished the Basil Rolls and had a few minutes to relax. Perfectly timed, our server delivered the Pad Thai and Crispy Red Curry Duck.
From the website I learned that Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand. Who knew? It is rice noodles stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and a Pad Thai sauce. On the plate as a garnish was freshly shredded cabbage, carrots and cilantro with a lime wedge for good measure.
Having lived in Boston for many years and many bad winters the need for “lunch delivered” was paramount. Often times we ordered “Chinese” and there was a Pad Thai option, which in no way even remotely resembled what I was served that evening. My dish, which I asked for a little spicy was exquisite. Not greasy, not oily, with fresh ingredients and a flavor that just jumped off the plate.
My husband is a big duck fan and Basil’s Crispy Red Curry Duck more than met the mark. Listed on the menu as Chef Suntorn’s Signature Dish it was a boneless half duck that is deep fried with vegetables and red curry sauce. It is also served with a small container of freshly steamed white rice that was very, very hot.
The duck was tender and the dish overall was one of the best duck dishes that he’s ever tasted. Both of us were full quickly, but continued to graze a bit before throwing in the towel. I am a tad embarrassed to admit that some of my Pad Thai was a breakfast reheat this morning…
I had originally said that I wanted to scout out Charleston’s hidden restaurant gems when I started my blog. Although based on the crowd and the waiting line, I am late in this discovery, but nonetheless, Basil is a gem. Look for their third location to open in Mount Pleasant this summer. I know we’re looking forward to it.
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