Amuse-Bouche: Sawaddee

Sawaddee's dining room is not even as wide as a sedan, but once you find it, you can expect reliable, tasty Thai.

If you’re not looking for Sawaddee, you will probably miss it. The tiny spot on Hope is just blocks away from Wickenden, putting it in a prime location for foot traffic, but its inconspicuous nesting spot inside a giant apartment building makes it easy to overlook, which is a pity. Sawaddee offers the best Thai food around, with a giant menu and very reasonable prices that quickly earn it a spot in its diners’ hearts. Track it down and it’ll earn a spot in your heart, too.

The restaurant’s name, a common Thai salutation, is reflected in a welcoming, homey atmosphere that’s decorated by knickknacks and native tapestries. The unfailingly attentive waitstaff combined with the intimate dining room makes it all but impossible to be discontent.

Happily, the food is an extension of this. It’s very tough to order badly. All the curries are made from scratch in house, which gives them a bracingly fresh and nuanced flavor. The yellow curry is cozy and soul-warming, while the green curry, which is snappy and bright, will be best when it starts getting nicer out. Other standbys, like pad thai and glass noodles, are easy winners, but the occasional tiptoe outside old favorites is well worth it. Roasted duck panang lounges in spicy red curry with fresh prawns and sweet pineapple chunks, striking a balance between savory and sweet. Tod mun pla comes off as imposingly strange: minced kingfish with cucumber sauce isn’t a typical craving for most. But, in a pleasant surprise, the little coins of fish are actually very subtle, offset by ribbons of lemongrass and tangy, cucumber- and peanut-studded hot sauce. And the curry puffs… ah, those curry puffs. The stuffing of minced chicken, mashed potatoes, and peas is reminiscent of a samosa, but the flaky, buttery shell is much more delicate. You need these in your life pronto. Make haste.

Curry puffs: tiny golden heaven-sent parcels.

High: The setting is sweet, the prices are fair, and most dishes–be they noodles, curries, soups, or salads–are scrumptious. Some are even enlightening (looking at you, yellow curry). This is an awesome place to have in your back pocket.

Low: There are just a couple things you’re better off avoiding. Rad na, a dish of stir-fried rice noodles, broccoli, and meat, is drowned in a gloopy and bland brown gravy. Tasty as edamame may be, it sticks out because it is just isn’t Thai. Final word of warning: be careful when you ask for your food to be spicy. They take that very literally, which can leave you with the uncanny feeling that you’re a fire-breathing dragon. Unpleasant!

Bottom line: Sawaddee is a cozy hole in the wall with fresh, exciting food. There’s something for everyone: adventurous or classic, spicy or mild, rich or light. Go here and be happy.

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