Amy and Joanne write:
"Sawadee" is Thai for the greeting "Hello." It is a warm welcome in the language as much as it is the feeling you get when you enter the small, almost hidden, Thai restaurant in South Windsor by the same name. I have visited Sawadee quite a few times since it opened a few years ago, and have always felt welcomed by the hospitable staff and comfortable interior. Good-luck elephants and Hindu goddesses adorn the walls, and current magazines are available for those waiting for take-out.
The menu offers traditional Thai dishes including a variety of noodles, curries, and fried rices made with the customer's choice of protein (chicken, beef, tofu, seafood). Duck is also on the menu, and that is one of my absolute favorite foods, so I always get the same thing when I go here: the Panang Duck, which is a crispy 1/4 duck served with green beans and peas in a light but spicy coconut-based curry sauce. Like most entrees, it is served with steamed white rice. Since I was visiting with Joanne, I thought I'd try something different...at least in the form of appetizers to share.
After living several years in Boston I have often lamented the lack of ethnic food (especially Thai) in my area of Connecticut, so I was eager to get turned on to a Thai restaurant close enough to home with votes of approval from Amy and Chris as well as a couple of other friends who live close by Sawadee. After looking at the menu on line, in preparation for our Thai adventure, Amy agreed to share my appetizer choices of fresh spring rolls and angel shrimp (which she told me, after I suggested them, is one of her favorites). Well, at least one appetizer would be different for her.
Shortly after we were seated, our water glasses were filled with ice cold water flavored with a hint of lime, and our orders were taken. A few minutes later, our glasses of wine were delivered, and our spring rolls arrived a moment after that. The presentation was exquisite--four half rolls standing in the center of a plate, garnished with shredded carrots and cilantro sprigs, served with a small ramekin of spicy peanut sauce. The rice paper was moist and the rolls were indeed fresh and crispy -- filled with sushi rice, shredded carrots, cilantro and tofu. The sauce, served with a healthy dash of crushed peanuts, had a touch of coconut that added to its flavor.
When we were not quite done with our spring rolls, our angel shrimp arrived. Five pieces of shrimp, tails on and exposed, bodies in perfectly brown and crunchy fried wrappers, were fanned around a small dish of dipping sauce. After my first bite of shrimp, dipped in the thin but tasty plum sauce with flecks of red pepper, I understood why it's one of Amy's favorites. As we finished our appetizers I wanted to make more appear, but it worked just as well that our dinners were presented instead.
The panang duck was as delicious as always. The duck was deboned for ease of eating and had a dark brown crispy skin. It was tossed with bright green peas and string beans, as well as julienned kaffir leaves that offered a flavor note of lime. Surrounding all of these was an orange-red coconut-curry sauce that was spicy enough to give me the sniffles, but sweet enough to pour over my sticky white rice. I. Love. This. Dish.
My chicken dish--Pra Ram-- was a beautiful plate of chicken breast pieces pounded thin and served with carrots; bite size, vibrant broccoli florets arranged around the perimeter; and--hidden underneath--bok choy; all tossed in a creamy peanut sauce. The portion was generous, the chicken was tender, and the vegetables still had a nice bite. Most importantly, the flavor was what my taste buds desired--peanut sauce with just the right hint of heat. I was happy to have sauce left on the plate to dress my sticky rice. I love peanut sauce the way Amy loves duck, and this is a dish I would order again. Meaning I'd come here again to dine or take out.
Our excellent food was accompanied by excellent service. Our young server was attentive and courteous, refilling water glasses as needed and checking on satisfaction with every course. She smiled often, and offered polite words in a quiet voice.
For great Thai food "East of the River," Sawadee is a welcome treasure.