New Restaurant in the Old Joy Luck location
Sweet Basil is open in the new space. Haven't been yet but I've driven by. Curious about the new Joy Luck place too.
Other Needham spots: The for the new restaurant is up at the former Indigo, but my memory is gone for the name of the new place going in there. I heard a rumor that it will be very pricey $40/50 plates.
The place that replaced Joy Luck is called "The Rice Barn" and is Thai/Asian food. The woman who opened it is local, and this is her first restaurant. I have been there twice in the past week and liked it both times.
The is orgainzed by cooking style, with each style available in chicken, pork, Beef, duck and tofu. I sampled several appetizers including spring rolls, some little flower-like morsels, and satay. Also some yellow curry(I chose duck), a masaman curry(chicken), somethng called a roll-up which consisted of rice paper, romaine leaf, marinated grilled pork medallions, julienned vegetables and fine noodles. Albeit messy to construct, this was excellent. We sampled some Thai wine, which resembles Chenin Blanc and is enjoyable.
They make their own ice cream including a Chocolate Basil, although I was too full to consider dessert.
The owner is hostess, and is very available to recommend things you may like. Service was excellent both times, and I left hoping that this place succeeds.
Been to the "new" Sweet Basil and also got takeout at Rice Barn.
Sweet Basil is the same, yet different. Dave is always wonderfully nice, the food is always great, and the new space is well executed. We joked as we walked in that we missed the loud noise of the dishwashing machine that dominated the old space. But by the end of the meal, we really did miss it. This was partly from being seated next to two annoying and chatty people - their conversation was hard not to get distracted by.
In the old space, you would be elbow to butt cheek with other parties of people, but it didn't matter because once you sat down, you only heard the ambient din, not every word that they said. The new space is not nearly as crowded, at least not yet - although one side of the restaurant seemed to have a lot more table density than the other.
So anyway, kudos to Dave and his crew for pulling off a nicely done space, but I really do miss the dishwasher.
Regarding Rice Barn, we had takeout there once so far. We used to be pretty regular takeout junkies from Joy Luck. We had spring rolls, crab rangoons and pad thai. The pad thai was on par with the former Bai Thong - good, but not superb. The appetizers were very good. The restaurant seems pretty crowded, Joy Luck never was that crowded when I picked up takeout. The prices for some of the entrees seem very high.
Mysteriously, I called again to order takeout on Sat 2/3, and there was no answer on any of my three attempts to place an order. Conspiracy theories: Were they shut down for some reason? Were they so busy they stopped answering the phone? Was the phone somehow disconnected in the restaurant??
I think it's delicious! We were there on Sat night (3/3) and tried the cashew chicken, shanghai rolls, summer rolls, thai soup with tofu and steak. Also mai tai and margarita (patron tequila).
Great ambience - more upscale than joy luck - and very good food and service. We'll be back.
I thought Joy Luck was good for their Chef Specials - did anyone try the filet mignon? in any case, I was sad to see them go but glad that they've been replaced with a place like this. Rice Barn is good but its overpriced. I'm from LA and the Thai food is more plentiful, more savory and cheaper. That said, the decor and service are very nice and given the location in a nice town, it makes sense that it is more expensive.
Tried - chive pancakes - these were uncooked in the middle but purposefully and they were delicious - lightly fried but very moist and savory.
saigon rolls - nice, very fresh tasting, excellent peanut sauce.
Basil/Chicken (ka gow pad or something like that) - this was very fragrant but the pieces of chicken seemed to be not of the highest quality cuts. However, the spicing and freshness of the accompanying vegetables made up for this and the dish ended up as a positive.
The fried banana was great (I asked that it be served with chocolate basil ice cream which was good but not super-basily). The banana was wrapped in wonton dough I think and it was really nice. A close your eyes kind of bite.
Definitely worth a try. I enjoyed this place but I'm not completely sure its worth 15 dollars for an entree - I'll be back to try other dishes and see if it is.
My coworkers and I went for lunch and were very pleased. Nice sized portions, fast, friendly staff and a little "nicer" feeling than many of the nearby restaurants. I got one of the bento boxes and it was the hit of the table. I'm looking forward to going back regularly.
Question about Sweet Basil: Does anyone know if they will reopen for lunch. I heard possibly not?
Just tried Rice Barn on Sunday evening. I must preface my remarks by saying that I am not a "authentic thai eating expert"; however, that being said, I did enjoy my meal very much. There were 3 of us and we shared 2 appetizers, satay (combo of beef and chicken) and another (I forget the name) were these little cups filled with chicken, peas, carrots, cucumber, etc. The chicken satay was good but the beef satay did not have much flavor and was a little overcooked. The little cups were tasty but not exceptional. The 2 entrees were both excellent. My wife and I shared the Garlic Shrimp, basically a thai shrimp scampi, it was delicious and we got about 12-14 large shrimp in the dish; my daughter ordered the pad see ew with chicken (not sure if this is the right name), this was a very broad rice noodle (bigger than chow fun) with chicken, broccoli, carrots, etc. it was also excellent. With 1 glass of wine and a soft drink, bill came to $52.50 before tip. Service was very good and the restaurant is designed very nicely. I will definitely go back.