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Thai Garden

Back in December 2003, when I reviewed Thai Basil II in this same location, it was a little like falling in love. There was that first blush of excitement over finding something new, the desire to explore everything it had to offer, and the absolute conviction that it could do no wrong. And then last year, it suddenly closed. Thai Garden quickly filled the gap, but I refused to go anywhere near the new place because I hold grudges, and I didn't like the idea of having to get acquainted all over again. But appetite eventually won out over messy psychology, and one night last week, craving Thai food but dreading a drive all the way downtown in the 300-degree heat, I stopped by Thai Garden. And I'm pleased to report that I am now in love all over again. According to the large announcement printed across the front of the menu (but not, tragically, displayed on the restaurant's signage), Thai Garden is Thai Basil reborn. The menu is the same, the kitchen is the same, the management is the same, the recipes better, if anything (though that might be the effect of a year's deprivation), and the only thing substantially changed is the name. So once again, I have a place to go for strangely sweet-sour chicken and coconut-milk Thai soup, for chicken wings dressed in a flare of blazing Sriracha, for long skewers of satay chicken brushed with honey-sweet and smoky Thai barbecue sauce. I have a place to go for uncomplicated curries, presented plainly beside geometric constructions of molded rice; for knock-off Americanized Chinese on those nights when I have a craving for sesame chicken or egg rolls. And most important, I have a place where I can experience that first blush of new discovery as I work through the menu, convinced that this new love (which is pretty much the same as the old love) can do no wrong.

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