Set serenely amid pines and palms a stone’s throw from Draper Lake, Basmati’s Asian Cuisine in the Blue Mountain Beach neighborhood of South Walton is definitely worth checking out for anyone hankering for Japanese, Chinese, Thai, or other Asian flavors while visiting the Emerald Coast.
The best seating at Basmati’s Asian Cuisine is arguably on the screened-in porch, which is especially recommended for date nights, but the outdoor seating is also pleasant. The indoor dining area is small but attractive: a good choice for candlelit meals, but the atmosphere inside takes a dip when the place is crowded.
Basmati’s, which offers Monday-through-Friday lunch and dinner seven nights a week, has been around since the 1990s, and indeed was one of the first establishments in the South Walton area to offer sushi. That menu of nigiri and maki sushi, including such specialty rolls as the Truffled Tuna, the Spicy Spider, and Jesse’s Spicy Crunchy Shrimp, is still one of the most popular draws at Basmati’s, and there are numerous other Japanese stylings in the appetizer and main-course departments.
But Basmati’s takes the wide geographic view, and in addition to Chinese-, Thai-, and Vietnamese-inspired dishes, you’ll find a few flourishes of both Gulf Coast and New England cookery—the latter a nod to the background of the restaurant’s longtime owners, Gary and Penny Hunt.
A case in point is the Maryland Style Crabcake offered among more Asian-style starters such as gyoza dumplings, the Spring Roll of the Day, and the Thai Squid plate featuring fried tempura-battered rings of calamari served with pineapple salsa and a dipping sauce.
The entrees, meanwhile, cover the most territory of all, and include such plates as the Sweet & Spicy Pork Tenderloin, the Cantonese Rack of Lamb, the Thai Red Curry Shrimp, and shrimp, beef, or chicken fried rice. There’s also a Seafood Special of the Day, plus some raw veggie dishes for vegan eaters, including summer rolls, salads, and special chef creations.
The desserts are definitely notable at Basmati’s Asian Cuisine, including the house-made Coconut Cake, the Chocolate Silk Tofu Pie, and the Spiced-Banana Spring Rolls.
As far as drinks go, there’s a full bar here—some cozy bar seating is offered indoors—plus wine, sake, and a range of beers, including classic Asian brands such as Sapporo and Singha.
Let’s dig in deeper to the Basmati’s Asian Cuisine menu and call out some particular recommendations:
This may be the single most celebrated dish at Basmati’s Asian Cuisine. The locally caught fish comes prepared in a sumptuous tempura batter and the spicy sweet-and-sour sauce provides the perfect zesty compliment. If this is your first visit, the Firecracker Grouper’s a great way to go. (And it may well be the way you go on your second, third, and fourth visits.)
Rice Paper Wrapped Salmon
Another entree highlight at Basmati’s is this preparation of Atlantic salmon, which comes wrapped in rice paper alongside cilantro, basil, and mint. The salmon’s served atop an Asian-style slaw in a ginger chili sauce.
Egg Drop Soup
The Basmati’s Asian Cuisine kitchen prepares a variety of soups, and this one’s a particular favorite: an egg drop soup featuring crab and asparagus, offering a hearty and delicious flavor.
Basmati advertises this as essentially a Key Lime Pie gone through a Japanese transformation. It features yozu fruit and a luscious graham-cracker crust, and it’s pretty much to die for.
Basmati’s Asian Cuisine is far from the cheapest lunch or dinner in the South Walton vicinity, but it’s definitely worth checking out for its Pan-Asian flavors and its lovely, tucked-away location.
If Basmati’s is crowded inside, we recommend requesting seating on the porch or outside, if possible; it can be quite noisy. When it’s quiet, the dining room’s great for intimate meals, but things can change with multiple parties involved.