New Snacks on the Block: Basil Box

Basil Box at Ryerson University is a new southeast Asian eatery that has been in business for just over a year. Two years ago, we introduced Basil Box to Ryerson by sharing the story of the creator, Peter Chiu. Since then, Basil Box has come a long way and has reached success at its Ryerson campus. It is one of three locations, with a fourth opening up at Yonge and Finch this summer. Some of you may remember Basil Box making a special appearance during Orientation Week. There was a continuous lineup throughout the day for free Thai iced tea (one of their bestsellers) and coconut curry boxes. Thai iced tea is a specialty drink that isn’t offered by many restaurants in Toronto, so people like myself pop into their store just for the drink.

Basil Box is inspired by Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Their concept revolves around mixing and matching healthy ingredients to build your own personal box. The customization that Basil Box offers really allows you to make a dish to suit your palate. You can even ask for the box’s base to be a combination like choosing both noodles and salad. The boxes are well balanced and the traditional combination of two vegetables, one protein and one sauce allows for each ingredient to stand out. The spicier sauces can be overpowering, so make sure you choose appropriately. However, it’s the toppings that really enhance the meal. The acid in the pickled veggies combines with the texture of crushed peanuts, crispy shallots or sesame seeds while the fresh herbs provide brightness to the dish. If you like an extra kick of heat, fresh Thai chilies will certainly add it.

Photo: Sabrina Bertsch

This step-by-step process ensures a quick and easy interaction with the staff behind the counter. Each bowl costs $9.45 before tax, with the option of adding additional ingredients for a small fee. In addition to their famous Thai iced tea, they offer pineapple rose soda, mango ginger ale soda and passion fruit lychee soda as their speciality drinks.
The storefront is relatively spacious and can accommodate a large group of students at once. Their seating arrangement is split up into two rooms; one smaller area where you order food, and a larger area to sit with friends at bigger tables.

Their concept reminded me of many Mexican spots around the city that offer a build-your-own “burrito bowl” service. Urban Herbivore, located at the Eaton Centre, Kensington Market and 967 College Street, also offers customizable bowls, except they only offer vegetarian and vegan ingredients. What was refreshing about Basil Box was their approach to new and unpopular ingredients. I’ve been a loyal and dedicated consumer to the new food spots opening in downtown Toronto, over the last four years, but have never seen so much variety on such a small menu. There was just one vegetarian option, but luckily for me, coconut curry tofu happens to be a favourite dish of mine. If you are interested in their nutrition and allergen information, you can visit their website for a full breakdown of each ingredient.

For anyone looking for a part-time job close to school, Basil Box is accepting resumes in store between the hours of 2 pm and 5 pm.

For more updates on our local Basil Box, follow their Instagram @thebasilbox and like their page on Facebook.