Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Restaurant Review: Sawatdee (Washington Ave Location)

After a month of dealing with the moving process I am happy to be settled into our new place and ecstatic to have internet! Being so busy with everything I haven't had time to conjure up any exciting new recipes, so here we go with another restaurant review. Up to the plate this time around is Sawatdee.

Now before starting this review I just want to make note of our history with Sawatdee. Maybe it was because he had a stellar first experience, maybe it was because he was from a small town, or maybe he just liked it because it was different but back in college Sawatdee was Mark's favorite restaurant. He used to go on and on about how great it was. Finally, one time he convinced me to try it and I hated it.... Everything except the calamari that is. Love does crazy things because a year later I agreed to try it again, this time for dinner after a Twins game with his parents. Long story short, I was forced to order quickly and ended up not liking my dish or Mark's at all. Needless to say, Sawatdee had two strikes on the count with me.

Fast forward to this Fall. While we were hanging out with another couple, Ben and Angie, we walked by Sawatdee and the boys started to reminisce about a great experience they had there years before when Angie brought up that she had never been. Because I love Mark so much, and because it gave us an excuse to see Ben and Angie again we made plans for dinner. I decided to go in with a completely open mind (maybe my tastes were more sophisticated now and I could appreciate what Sawatdee had to offer, maybe I had always ordered the wrong entrees) and give the place one last shot.

The place wasn't very busy when we arrived and we were seated right away. To be honest, I don't remember much about the decor or atmosphere so I will skip ahead to what we ordered.

Given my only pleasant memory of Sawatdee up to this point had been the calamari, we started with that as a appetizer. However we ended up being a little disappointed because of how heavy it was on the batter with such a small amount of actual squid underneath. Maybe it was always that way and we used to like fried foods more than we do now, but whatever the case, it was o.k. at best. Luckily the fish oil sauce that came on the side as a dipper was delicious. It was definitely the appetizers saving grace.

After cautiously skimming the menu multiple times I settled on the spicy noodles with shrimp. The way I saw it: spicy - good, noodles - good, shrimp - good (Joey impression), seemed like a simple enough dish that would be hard to screw up. It consisted of rice noodles and iceberg lettuce in a spicy red chili sauce with shrimp on top. I asked for it hot, and that it was (thats a good thing!), the portion size was impressive (we had enough leftovers to serve as a generous side dish a day later), and the flavor was satisfactory (meaning it had enough to still taste beyond the spiciness). The problem I had with it was I left feeling like I could have made it myself, at home, with little trial and error. Something that mad me feel a little like I had wasted my money.

Mark ordered the pad thai, medium heat, because in spite of hearing of the dish numerous times, he had never actually had it before. In typical (American?) pad thai fashion it came with noodles topped with a spicy peanut sauce and peanuts & chicken on the side. He was happy that the heat level wasn't too much to handle and thought overall the dish was pretty tasty, but he wasn't blown away like he remembered being during past trips to Sawatdee.

While I can say that we had a great time with our friends, and this trip was the best experience so far, the food was just too greasy and nothing spectacular. I would go back if someone else really wanted to, but at the same time I wouldn't be jumping at the chance. So I guess my final impression of Sawatdee is maybe its me, maybe I don't like Thai, or maybe Sawatdee and I just aren't the right fit but something is off and I can't seem to figure it out.


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