If you want the best Thai cuisine available in Hangzhou, then treat yourself to Sawasdee. Conveniently located on the second floor of the Five-Star Wyndham Grand Hotel, Sawasdee offers all the delights of Thai restaurants that foodies, gourmets and connoisseurs alike have come to know and love without the campiness and ambiguity of "southeastern", Asian joints dotted throughout the city. Soothing music and 360 degrees of Buddhist statues and waiters/waitresses greeting you in polite, seemingly-divine bows, welcome you from your first step through the doorway threshold. Then, of course, the fragrant scents of curry, lemon grass and seafood wafting through the air ever so delicately ease you into your chair. One can not help but appreciate the craft and sublime nature of Thai cuisine.
While offering dishes to suit the palate of any diner, unlike most Thai restaurants in Hangzhou, much of the staff of Sawasdee is Thai. Meaning, authenticity is predominantly paramount. Our culinary adventure started with glasses of Thai Iced Milk Tea and Thai Lemon Iced Tea, which came stronger than they appeared (a miracle for this avid coffee drinker).
As an appetizer, we indulged in Miang Khum, which roughly translates to "one bite snack" consisting of large, zesty, leaves that we were instructed to autonomously fill (much like a fajita) with a robust collection of shallots, garlic, coconut shavings, ginger cubes, chili peppers, and dried shrimp. Once rolled, we dipped the minty wraps into an invigorating sweet and sour sauce that whet the appetite and enlivened the senses.
After a couple of those tantalizing zingers, the star of our meal was placed meticulously before us: tiger prawns cooked four ways. That included. That included a yellow curry Tiger prawn, a Tiger prawn salad, a stir-fried chili paste Tiger prawn and a pickled-garlic stir-fried Tiger prawn.
To those unfamiliar with tiger prawns, they are quite formidable in girth and size. One or two of them along with some rice, soup and/or an appetizer is more than enough to stuff the average person or gratify most appetites.
My absolute favorite was the Tiger Prawn Salad 老虎虾沙拉 (68RMB), with a mix of onions, peppers, cucumbers and pickled radishes, carrots, etc. alongside a fully cooked tiger prawn that just left me speechless and satiated. It was like a New York, Pastrami Sandwich with just the right amount of pickles and spicy mustard. Meat meets seasoned, refreshing vegetables. I could eat it all day and would not complain in the least.
The Yellow Curry Tiger prawn 黄咖喱老虎虾 (68RMB) was served alongside a fluffy, muffin-esque toast that seeped up the curry while leaving enough curry on the prawn to make it creamy and delectable. This is also a must-have for single diners or those sharing with friends. The curry, prawn and bread were all delicious, especially when eaten together or even separately. This was east-meets-west at it's most exquisite.
To top it off, the Stir-fried Chili Paste Tiger Prawn 老虎虾炒辣椒膏 (68RMB) was outstanding. Shitake mushrooms and bacon were thrown into the chili paste and stir fried over a high-flame , accentuating all the umami flavors present in the dish. Served with the huge, Tiger prawn it was delicious but I could eat that sauce with white rice or plain noodles and be more than satisfied.
To be frank, the Pickled Garlic Tiger Prawn 香蒜老虎虾 (68RMB) was exclusively put on the menu to appease Chinese diners that are not used to authentic Thai cuisine. And, while mouth-watering, it reminded me too much of my local Chinese barbecue's clams with garlic and vermicelli to really leave a lasting impression.
Then, we were served panko deep fried shrimp cakes 炸虾饼 (68RMB) served with a sour plum dipping sauce that eliminated all of the gamey, earthy flavor of the shrimp and made the dish.
Next, came the Pad Thai 泰式金边粉 (78RMB) as a filler. Stir-fried with eggs and seafood, we squeezed the accompanying lime over it, mixed in the diced nuts and chilies and voile: It became a wondrous, satisfying end to a shrimp-heavy, heaven-sent meal.
Alongside it, we were served Hot and Sour shrimp soup, or Tom Yam Goong 酸辣虾汤 (68RMB), with a heavy dose of fragrant lemon grass to cement the Thai sentiment. They were both notably flavorful and in no way less scrumptious if served together as a full, single-person meal. The two bites of shrimp in the soup were also a nice cap to a wondrous, gratifying meal.
To make this Thai meal the pick of the litter, and digest perfectly, I was given a bottle of Singha Thai beer 胜狮啤酒 (48RMB). Refreshing and inebriating! Who could ask for anything more?
*Their Service charge is 15 % include VAT 6%