Dave’s View: There is one thing I hate about Andrea: I always have to show my ID to purchase alcohol when I’m with her. You see, Andrea looks like she is under 21 years of age, but she is really in her mid 30′s and when we went to Sawasdee in Carmel, Indiana the other day, it happened again. Here comes our waiter with the owner and his response is, “Oh, yeah, she’s over 21.” But Andrea, still flips out her purse and shows her ID. Thanks Andrea, I appreciate it. Now it’s my turn. I get my wallet out. The waiter already knows I’m old. I’m less than a decade older than Andrea and I have little to no hair on my head. If you were to see Andrea and I in a restaurant you may say, “Is he robbing the cradle?” Please, I’m not. It’s not my fault, Andrea was blessed with youthful skin and I have the skin from my alligator family. I’m a guy who chose not to moisturize at a young age. So I’m paying for it now. When you are asked for your ID, both of you must show, because it’s respect for the old person, which would be me. At least, he didn’t say, “Will this be on separate checks?” If you don’t understand this statement, one day you will.
Now, you may be asking yourself why the owner came out with the waiter to check the age of Andrea? We were both getting carded by a 16-year-old waiter that’s why. Nothing illegal about. The owner showed him how to open a bottle of wine and how to serve it. He also told us 18 year olds can serve the wine, but can’t drink it until they are 21. Another great Indiana law! So another first in my lifetime: Getting carded by a 16-year-old. With of course, the Asian owner doing the serving.
The inside of this restaurant is the best decor I’ve seen in a Thai establishment so far in Indianapolis. Fresh flowers on the tables combined with red and gold accents in almost all of the furnishings. It has a very calming effect on the soul. Every inch of this place has something that will peak your interest. It’s like a Thai museum that serves food. As I’ve said in past blogs, whatever is up on the walls usually transfers to the food. In this case, there are some unique and creative items on the walls and that transposed to my food, which was the Gaeng Pet Ped Yang.
Basically, Gaeng Pet Ped Yang is duck stewing in a curry broth. I’ve had duck in the past, but not prepared this way. The duck I’ve had in the past was dry and gamey. You don’t have to worry about that in this dish. Slices of duck are floating in a curry broth with individual cherry tomatoes and grapes, coupled with slices of peppers. It is a very unique experience that everybody should try. The curry broth is slightly on the spicy side, but you shouldn’t worry about that. It’s the tomatoes and grapes that need to get your attention and they will. The tomatoes and grapes are stewing in the curry broth which will liquefy inside the skins. Once you bite into the cherry tomatoes, a burst of semi hot tomato juice will fill your mouth. It is a sensation that will catch you off guard. When you bite into one of the grapes, you get the same feeling, but the grape holds more sugar, so you get a different explosion inside your mouth. Pick up a slice of duck(skin and all) and it balances it out the sugar in your mouth. A true food adventure!
Service: 9 Food: 9 Ambiance: 9.5 Total: 27.5 out of 30
$40-$50 with adult beverages.
Note: You maybe getting served by a 16-year-old server. Don’t worry, they’re trained well and more professional than 75% of other Indianapolis restaurants. Also, don’t get mad when you have to show your ID. Fines are hefty for the server and restaurants if they don’t follow the law. In this case, the law is a good one!
Andrea’s View: Sawasdee on 86th Street is unlike any Thai restaurant I have ever entered. A serene Buddha and a beckoning kitty statue (with its left paw up) greet you at the door when you walk in. From the entrance you notice many gilded ”altars” set up around the dining room. There is the wine altar, the dessert altar, and the family altar. All are ornate and dripping with gold leaf, all adorned with flowers. I also noticed right away that fresh-cut flowers were placed at every table. Not the silk variety, but real flowers in vases. At our table, there were three pink tulips. Dave even touched them to be sure they were real.
Dave and I order a bottle of wine and our very young looking caucasian server disappears into the back room. A few minutes later, a man who looks like my Thai father (I don’t have a Thai father) pops out of the back with our wine and our young server. The young server then says to me, “May I see your ID?” As I reach into my purse, my Thai father says, “Don’t worry, she looks okay to me.” I chuckle and reply that they should also check Dave’s ID since he loves when he gets carded. Dave gives me the death glare that I may have mentioned before, and gets out his wallet. Now we are all chuckling, except for Dave.
I ordered the pud prik king with pork. This dish also comes with a spring roll and a Thai cabbage salad. Both the spring roll and the salad were fresh and delicious. My main entrée had pork, green beans, red bell pepper, curry paste, and lime leaves. Now here is the biggest point of difference between Sawasdee and other Thai restaurants in town. My green beans were freshly blanched, both crisp and tender. Most other Thai places use frozen green beans that have a weird rubbery texture. Frozen green beans aren’t necessarily bad, they just aren’t the same as fresh. I felt as if my Thai father made this dish just for me.
Please note, like women’s' clothing stores and sizes, there is really no standard spice level in Thai food. I usually order mine “medium” and most of the time it is perfect. Sawasdee’s medium runs a little hotter than most “mediums” I’ve had before. It was not too spicy, but it did have a kick to it. So if you are heat sensitive, I would suggest ordering a spice level down than what you normally like.