Across the way, a mother and father argued over the best method to season their adult son's steaming bowl of beef brisket and meatball pho ($9). The henpecked son sat silently as his mother snatched up a whole stalk of basil off his plate and tossed it in, along with bean sprouts, jalapeño, and cilantro. "This is how you eat pho," she said. By the time my bowl of the iconic Vietnamese soup arrived, I had resolved to eat it without any additions — at least at first — in a show of solidarity for the poor dude. And what a reward: Basilic's version of the ubiquitous beef and noodle soup was intensely beefy and infused with star anise and roasted ginger. It stood tall on its own, but I eventually gave in to temptation, tossing in musty basil leaves and some deep, richly caramelized hoisin.

And still we ate more. Kyle dug into the shaking beef, served with mayo-less coleslaw so light that it nearly floated off his fork. Chicken curry ($10) was bathed in a thick, piquant coconut sauce, while Dani's spicy lemongrass rice noodles ($12) were livened with chewy bits of fried tofu and a dusting of crushed peanuts. At the end of it all, I felt like I had to be shoved out of the glass doors and airlifted home. Yet, among the three of us, we'd barely spent $65.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Basilic Vietnamese Grill

218 E. Commercial Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Beaches

Details

Basilic Vietnamese Grill, 218 E. Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., till 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. Call 954-771-5798.

I returned for lunch later in the week to sample Basilic's banh mi, a submarine sandwich resulting from the intersection of Vietnam's homegrown food ways with a hundred years of French colonization. Here, the banh mi comes with either grilled chicken or beef, or it's filled with the same smooth pork meatballs that grace the pho. Sadly, you won't find standard banh mi fillers like pâté or headcheese or even Vietnamese ham. But at $6, the banh mi at Basilic is larger than the ones you'll find at authentic delis and, with the hot grilled meat replacing exotic cold cuts, sports a decidedly Anglo bent. It still comes topped with the requisite cucumber spears, pickled carrot, cilantro, and jalapeño, but it was missing something wet and earthy. Luckily, a quick fix was at hand: I dabbed the chewy baguette with some chili paste and a squirt of salty soy sauce. Much better. Turns out that my salt-loving friend was right — this banh mi just needed some sodium to liven things up. Thankfully, Basilic has some pretty good chefs, by her standard. And I'm not so bad myself.

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