Monday, December 27, 2010

Sawasdee- Revisit

Recently I had dinner with retired local food blogger, braingirl.  She convinced me it was time to give Sawasdee another shot after my first visit was underwhelming (and looking back at it, what a crappily written post).  Anyway, I have been meaning to go back and jumped on the opportunity to go with someone who knew the highs and lows of the menu.
So we decided to get lots of stuff so we could try several flavors and figured we would just take the extra home.  She suggested the Thai toast (#3 for those of you following along) for a starter.  These were little slices of deep fried crunchy bread with some bits of pork.  They were served with a sort of cucumber salad—almost like a cucumber salsa.  I really enjoyed the Thai toast—they were nice and crispy on the outside edges but with just a little hint of chewiness from the bread.  The cucumber salad gave a fresh bright snap with the flavors and was also just a little sweet and sour.  I really liked them.
Each entrée comes with soup and a spring roll as well.  The soup was their Thom Yum (or hot and sour).  It had a nice kick to it—spicy without being so spicy it choked you on the way down.  A deep peppery flavor though.  The spring roll was fine. I don’t know, I think I am getting burned out on spring rolls. Everyone serves them and rarely are they anything super exciting.  This one was no exception.
We shared three different things—the Drunken Noodles with pork, the Massaman Curry with chicken and a special of the day—crispy tilapia with 3 layer sauce (I think I have that name right).  Overall, the Drunken Noodles were my favorite.  Their noodles are really wide—so wide at first you don’t even think it is a noodle and was mixed with the little pieces of stir fried pork, and various veggies—onions, peppers, and tomatoes (ok, that’s a fruit, but still).  There was a fair amount of basil as well giving the dish a nice aromatic basil flavor.  The sauce was slightly sweet but with soy and plenty of pepper as well.  A bit of spice, but really more a light tangy flavor.  The pork added a nice richness.  There is a lot going on in these noodles, but it all came together as a tasty dish.
The Massaman curry was not bad.  I have to admit a lot of curries aren’t my favorite because sometimes the coconut milk flavor turns the whole thing a little too sweet, but this one was pretty well balanced.  Pleasantly spicy –the curry paste usually includes things like peanuts, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, shallots, lots of spices (coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, etc) as well as the chilies.  The paste is mixed with the coconut milk, potato and more peanuts and you get a deep richly flavored almost stew like consistency.  We had it with chicken—the pieces of chicken were tender as were the potato chunks.  You could taste the sweetness of the coconut milk, but it did not overwhelm the other flavors too much and worked pretty well together.  While it was pretty good, I still preferred the bright flavors of the noodles.
Lastly, we had the tilapia with the 3 layer sauce.  Our very friendly and helpful server explained that this meant layers of sweet, sour and I think maybe the last one was spicy?  Anyway, this dish was a disappointment (and braingirl agreed).  Our server had told us that the dish was very popular (which probably should have been a tip off) and that it was deep fried tilapia with the sauce on top.  First, the fish was not deep fried, more like pan fried, and it was not very crispy—more like oily.  But the real problem for me was how fishy it tasted.  I only ate a couple of bites before giving up on this one.  The sauce on top was a little more one layer to me-- that being sweet.  So honestly, even if the fish had been really good, I don’t know how much I could’ve eaten.  That was the only dish of which we did not take home the leftovers.
The service was spot on (other than that recommendation for the fish) and extremely attentive.  The place wasn’t very busy but it was fairly early in the evening midweek.  They are quite efficient and the food arrived without delay. 
I would say my overall feelings have become more positive toward Sawasdee, but still not sure I would place it as my top choice for Thai in Indy.  What do you guys think about this place?  It used to always be the first place you heard about when people talked about Thai around here, but I don’t hear it as much anymore. 
1222 West 86th Street
Indy 46260

Sawasdee on Urbanspoon


  1. Erin -- great post although you were kinder about that talapia than I would have been. It was just a bad dish. Tasted like it was fried in old oil. Ick.

    After recently having tried several other Thai places, my overall impression is that Thai food in general has gotten a bit better in Indy putting Sawasdee in balance with other offerings. Some of the places on the northside are quite passable.

    Sawasdee's flaw has always been that their food is so hot hot hot! I recently ordered takeout and the Thom Ka Gai -- one of my favorite Thai soups was so spicy it almost made me sick. However, the green curry still is a lunchtime fave. I miss not working on the northside so I can sweat over my lunch at least one day a week.

  2. I agree with braingirl, I'd go to Sawasdee because other places aren't up to par. But I've had good experiences there, and am happy I haven't tried the tilapia!

  3. Hi, I just found your blog and to your question about good Thai here in Indy - we have had good experiences with Thai Spice in Greenwood and Siam Square in Fountain Square.

  4. Andy-
    Welcome! And thanks for the recs. I have reviewed Siam Square a couple of times here if you want to check them out. Thai Spice is on the list...