There are those restaurants where you plan to eat -- making reservations, picking out the right outfit, booking the babysitter -- and those you go to when the urge strikes you. Spicy Basil is all about whim. This small Thai-fusion storefront is just the spot for a quick lunch when you've got Asian on the brain, a place that inspires an undeniable hunger for chicken curry and dumplings when you drive by. During the dinner rush, Spicy Basil probably does more take-out business than sit-down, but if you've got the time (and it doesn't take much), the dining room is casual and sunny, the service quick, and the bright Thai flavors at their best and freshest the moment they hit the table.


Spicy Basil
There are those restaurants where you plan to eat -- making reservations, picking out the right outfit, booking the babysitter -- and those you go to when the urge strikes you. Spicy Basil is all about whim. This small Thai-fusion storefront is just the spot for a quick lunch when you've got Asian on the brain, a place that inspires an undeniable hunger for chicken curry and dumplings when you drive by. During the dinner rush, Spicy Basil probably does more take-out business than sit-down, but if you've got the time (and it doesn't take much), the dining room is casual and sunny, the service quick, and the bright Thai flavors at their best and freshest the moment they hit the table.

Tommy's Thai straddles the border between what Thai cuisine truly is and what those who've never had the real thing think Thai cuisine ought to be. As a result, Tommy's offerings can come off muted, those raw edges of ethnic flavor rubbed smooth by continued refinement for the neighborhood palate. But this dialing down works for the kitchen's curries, which are irresistible and addictive. They're still hot where they should be hot, still sweet where they should be sweet, and always milky-smooth with infused coconut milk, but they also have an unexpected depth of flavor. From plain greens to reds and yellows rich with lime leaves and boiled shrimp, to the excellent potato-studded massamun, Tommy's curries take the crown.


Tommy's Thai straddles the border between what Thai cuisine truly is and what those who've never had the real thing think Thai cuisine ought to be. As a result, Tommy's offerings can come off muted, those raw edges of ethnic flavor rubbed smooth by continued refinement for the neighborhood palate. But this dialing down works for the kitchen's curries, which are irresistible and addictive. They're still hot where they should be hot, still sweet where they should be sweet, and always milky-smooth with infused coconut milk, but they also have an unexpected depth of flavor. From plain greens to reds and yellows rich with lime leaves and boiled shrimp, to the excellent potato-studded massamun, Tommy's curries take the crown.

For those addicted to searching out the true flavors of the mysterious East, JJ Chinese Restaurant is a wonderland of sights and smells and tastes -- highly specific regional cooking featuring dishes native to chef/ owner Kevin Ho's home province of Guangdong. For those who prefer something more along the lines of sesame chicken? Well, then JJ can be flat-out freaky, because Ho's menu offers no fewer than a dozen things that most people don't even consider food. Snakes, for example. Or capelin (a tiny fish, eaten whole), geoduck and pig intestines. But Ho is a man who cooks without fear, and he doesn't worry what his non-Guangdongian clientele might think of a plate full of duck feet and spicy bean paste. A meal here is a real adventure in eating.

For those addicted to searching out the true flavors of the mysterious East, JJ Chinese Restaurant is a wonderland of sights and smells and tastes -- highly specific regional cooking featuring dishes native to chef/ owner Kevin Ho's home province of Guangdong. For those who prefer something more along the lines of sesame chicken? Well, then JJ can be flat-out freaky, because Ho's menu offers no fewer than a dozen things that most people don't even consider food. Snakes, for example. Or capelin (a tiny fish, eaten whole), geoduck and pig intestines. But Ho is a man who cooks without fear, and he doesn't worry what his non-Guangdongian clientele might think of a plate full of duck feet and spicy bean paste. A meal here is a real adventure in eating.

Man cannot live on pig intestines alone. And on those nights when you crave something comfortingly familiar yet still vaguely ethnic, Imperial Chinese Restaurant fits the bill. Although the dining room here is red-dragon-and-white-tablecloth elegant, it attracts a casual crowd of diners looking for the kind of tame, sterile thrills that only Chinese food done Colorado-style can offer. Which means all of the American-Chinese favorites, executed in exemplary fashion: sesame chicken, sweet-and-sour shrimp, Peking duck, and fortune cookies that deliver only good news.


Imperial Chinese Restaurant
Man cannot live on pig intestines alone. And on those nights when you crave something comfortingly familiar yet still vaguely ethnic, Imperial Chinese Restaurant fits the bill. Although the dining room here is red-dragon-and-white-tablecloth elegant, it attracts a casual crowd of diners looking for the kind of tame, sterile thrills that only Chinese food done Colorado-style can offer. Which means all of the American-Chinese favorites, executed in exemplary fashion: sesame chicken, sweet-and-sour shrimp, Peking duck and fried wontons (filled with ground pork, not eels or anything weird), and fortune cookies that deliver only good news.

Kim Ba Vietnamese Cuisine
Kim Ba
Kim Ba's menu is huge (and most of it in Vietnamese), listing a range of regional dishes that offer a whirlwind tour from the Highlands down to the Delta and back again. Even after many visits, we have yet to find a single thing that we wouldn't eat again (and again and again). The fat shrimp wrapped in grilled flank steak are fantastic, as is the chicken in chile paste; the fat spring rolls are the best we've ever tasted. If the house specializes in anything, it's marinated and grilled meats, turning out several dozen varieties a day. We've eaten Vietnamese food at every possible opportunity for decades and didn't think we could be shocked by anything coming off the line, but Kim Ba has shown us that there's a lot more to learn about food in general -- and Asian food in particular.


New Saigon
Mark Manger
Kim Ba's menu is huge (and most of it in Vietnamese), listing a range of regional dishes that offer a whirlwind tour from the Highlands down to the Delta and back again. Even after many visits, we have yet to find a single thing that we wouldn't eat again (and again and again). The fat shrimp wrapped in grilled flank steak are fantastic, as is the chicken in chile paste; the fat spring rolls are the best we've ever tasted. If the house specializes in anything, it's marinated and grilled meats, turning out several dozen varieties a day. We've eaten Vietnamese food at every possible opportunity for decades and didn't think we could be shocked by anything coming off the line, but Kim Ba has shown us that there's a lot more to learn about food in general -- and Asian food in particular.

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