Sunday, January 23, 2011

Basil, New Haven CT

Basil is located at 142 Howe Street where East Melange Too used to be.  EMT was a favorite of ours so we decided to venture out to see what has become of the place.
The restaurant has been renovated under new ownership.  The furniture is a bit nicer, but they blocked off the back wall through which you used to be able see the kitchen and the roasted whole ducks hanging behind the glass.  I feel like they took some of the personality away, but the layout is pretty much the same.
The menu has not changed too drastically.  This used to be one of few places in New Haven where you could find some good dim sum, but now there are only a handful of items in the appetizer part of the menu.  We decided to go with the Pork Shumai, Mini Peasant Chicken and a bowl of Beef Stew Noodle Soup.
Pork Shumai:  Stuffed in thin dumpling skin, the pork filling has a nice chewy texture and light flavor.  This comes with a sweet soy sauce based dipping sauce that brings out a great flavor with the Pork Shumai.  I love dim sum and this is one of my favorites. 8
Mini Peasant Chicken: This sounded new and interesting so we decided to give it a whirl. They might taste good to somebody somewhere, but we were unpleasantly surprised. Inside was mostly sticky rice and there was no chicken in the one that we tried. There were little dried shrimps which tasted not at all good. We finished one just to be sure, but couldn't handle the rest.
Beef Stew Noodle Soup: For $6.95 you get an enormous bowl of stewed beef and noodle in a red broth with sprouts, chives and Shanghai bok choy.  The broth tastes of South Asian spices and was a nice change up from what we are used to.  The beef was stewed to flavorful tenderness and the Cantonese noodles were tasty.  The Shanghai bok choy gave a nice freshness to the soup.  Super tasty and huge bowl of soup for 7 bucks. 8

To be honest, I do still miss EMT but Basil is not a bad replacement.  We are happy to have one of our noodle options back and a place where we can get a small taste of some dim sum.

Overall Experience: 7


  1. For the "mini peasant chicken" I'd like to add that it isn't necessarily supposed to have chicken. It's based on the peasant's version of "chicken", where back then they would take whatever bits of leftover food and flavoring they had (like the dried shrimps, or other flavorful ingredients, shitaki, some chinese sausage and/or barbeque, salty duck egg) and then stuff it into some sticky rice and steam it. I love this dish because of the sticky rice and the fillings restaurants come up with, but yes it's hard to find a good one in general.