What: The Tom Yum Soup
Where:Le Basil, 72695 Highway 111, No. A10, Palm Desert
How much: $4.95 (chicken) or $6.95 (shrimp); hot pots also available
Contact: 760-773-1112; www.lebasilrestaurant.com
Why: The flavors are amazing.
I love soup. No matter the time of year, and no matter how freaking hot the weather gets, I am up for a bowl of tasty, delicious soup—and one of my favorite soups, when done right, is tom yum.
I have tried this hot-and-sour soup at Thai restaurants far and wide, and I have come to the conclusion that it’s easy to make a good version of this soup—but it’s difficult to make a great version. Well, I am elated to report that Palm Desert’s Le Basil has produced a really great version—one of the best I’ve ever had.
The “big” ingredients—the moist chicken, the tasty mushrooms, the texturally satisfying tomato pieces—were all perfect, but it was the “little” ingredients in the broth that made this soup so splendid. The liquid is home to a variety of spices, lime, lemongrass and other flavor-producing goodies.
Wait, is that fish sauce I taste? Why, yes, I think it is. And all of it works in perfect harmony.
Most of the other dishes we had at Le Basil were also quite enjoyable. An honorable-mention endorsement goes to the Le Basil crispy fish salad ($12.95), which successfully merged chunks of deep-fried white fish with apple, onions, (far too few) cashews and a lemon dressing. On paper, that combination may make you go: “Huh?!” But on the plate, it was a big hit.
However, the tom yum was the undisputed highlight. While I’ll gladly slurp down soup in 117-degree weather, I understand that not everyone feels the same way. But, hey, the Coachella Valley’s “cold” season is here—so get thee to Le Basil, and enjoy the tasty warmth of the tom yum. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: You’ll be glad you did.