Happy gut rut

Larb Gai, Thai Basil

Illustration by brian breneman

I've gotten myself into a bit of a food rut with Thai Basil. And I really don't care. I'm very happy in my rut. That rut being Larb Gai ($9). At first glance, it's a simple salad with tomatoes, onions and lettuce, tossed intriguingly with mint and cilantro. Then you notice the chile, fried shallot and lemongrass rounding it out, offering bitter, hot, sweet and savory flavors. But it's really all about the dressing—a heavy hand of fish sauce and lime juice slathering the veggies and mighty chunks of shredded chicken. It's punchy as hell, and not for the meek of mouth. 2431 J Street, www.thaibasilrestaurant.com.