Restaurant: Sawasdee Thai
Last visited: December 22, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Riley Park/Little Mountain)
Address: 4250 Main Street
Bus: NB Main St FS E 28 Av
Price Range: $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!
- Thai owned/operated
- Extensive menu
- Cheap lunch combos
- Family friendly
- Good for groups
- Accepts credit cards
- Mon-Fri. Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm
- Mon-Sun. Dinner 5pm-10pm
I’m really not sure what happened to Sawasdee Thai. My Thai friends used to recommend this place to me years ago, and I finally tried it. It can’t be the same place they once knew. I’m not sure if it was because I went for lunch, or if chef was off duty (which neither qualify as excuses), or if the quality has just gone downhill, but as an award winning Thai restaurant in Vancouver, BC, I was a bit disappointed. It does get better than this, although Thai food in Vancouver isn’t necessarily something to brag about… it’s stronger than our options for Latin cuisine though!
I think I’m going to get a lot of hate for this because I know it’s a neighbourhood favourite and beloved Thai restaurant, but the quality of the dishes I tried were just not up to par and very average at the most. I won’t even compare it to authentic Thai food in Thailand, but even in the context of Vancouver, there is more authentic than this. Even just on Main Street I would say Bob Likes Thai Food is more authentic, although the menu is much smaller. I would rather have less dishes on a menu done really well anyways, but this is uncommon for any Asian restaurant.
The food isn’t inedible and I didn’t hate it, but it was catered for Western tastes. Even for Western tastes, it wasn’t that great though. The passion and care in the food just wasn’t there and the quality was sacrificed. I think I am just let down since I had high expectations going in. The chefs and staff are Thai, but I’m almost confident that this isn’t what they’re eating on breaks or serving their families.
On the table:
- Choice of minced chicken, beef or pork seasoned with lime juice and chili $9.95
- This is one of my favourite Thai dishes that I always order, but it was only okay here. It’s best with pork.
- It is often overlooked since it’s under “salads”, but it’s basically a Thai lettuce wrap that is very traditional in Thailand.
- It was served on chopped romaine and it should be whole leaf romaine leaves.
- The pork was chunky and it should be very finely ground and almost crumbly, but not dry and chewy like it was.
- I tasted a hint of toasted rice and it was heavy on the lime juice, but I couldn’t taste the mint and the meat was just overcooked.
- It also has fish sauce and sugar so it’s a bit sweet and savoury, but the dish was rushed and the meat didn’t absorb the sauces.
- I asked for it hot, but the hot wasn’t very flavourful and the roasted chili flakes seemed stale. It was definitely hot, but only hot.
- A better larb is the one from Khunnai Chang Madame Elephant Thai Cuisine – see Lap Gai.
- Just for reference, this is an authentic Larb Moo from Tuk Tuk Thai Restaurant.
- Stir fried chicken with onion and fresh basil leaves $8.75 (Lunch special price served with spring roll and satay)
- This was an off-menu request. It was the Gai Phad Bai Kra-Prao with added chilies and garlic and we asked for it hot.
- This was actually pretty good and the portion was good for the price too.
- It was basically a stir fry and a Chinese-Thai style dish. There is a lot of Chinese influence in Thai cuisine, so it doesn’t make it “non-authentic”.
- The chicken was moist and it was very aromatic with lots of basil leaves, garlic and onions.
- It was nice and saucy with a good balance of sweetness, tang from lime juice, and spice, but it was still flavourful and not just hot. If anything, it was more on the sweet side.
- If you like this, I will also recommend the Kra Pau Moo at Pink Elephant Thai. It might sound like an unexpected recommendation, but when I had it, it was great.
- Green curry with bamboo shoot in coconut milk and your choice of pork, chicken or beef $12.50
- This was from the regular menu and there were lots of ingredients which was nice.
- A Thai green curry typically comes with eggplant, but this one had green and red peppers and bamboo shoots.
- I found the curry sauce a bit watery, but I could taste the lemongrass although it was missing aromatics and more basil leaves would have helped.
- I liked the crunchy bamboo shoots and the chicken was tender, but the sauce just lacked the depth and texture of a quality homemade curry paste.
- It wasn’t bad though, but I prefer green Thai curries elsewhere.
- Red curry with roast duck, pineapple, tomato and bamboo shoot in coconut milk $12.50
- I recently had the Duck Curry at Bob Likes Thai Food down the street so it was still fresh in my head. I’ve had variations of duck curry before so it’s not a new dish for me, but I do like it.
- This duck curry actually had duck flavour infused into the curry sauce and the one from Bob Likes Thai Food didn’t really.
- The curry was so rich in duck flavour that I didn’t even have to eat a piece of duck to know that there was duck in it.
- This one also had fresh pineapples and some peeled red grapes which is common in South East styles of duck curry, but the one at Bob Likes Thai Food had fresh pineapples and lychee which is a bit more interesting. The lychees are canned though so I just prefer the grapes.
- The red curry sauce was a bit thin again and the sliced duck was quite dry, but I did like the generous amount of crunchy bamboo shoots and I found the ones at Bob Likes Thai Food too soft.
- The texture and flavour of the curry seemed like they only used coconut milk and it should be made with coconut milk and coconut cream. I had the same issue at Bob Likes Thai Food, but it was more obvious here.
- Again the sweetness, tang and spice was quite well balanced and there were a lot of ingredients which I appreciated.
- I actually liked the quality of some of the red curry based dishes better at Pink Elephant Thai and the one at Bob Likes Thai Food seemed a bit richer too.
- I liked the duck curry equally at Bob Likes Thai Food, but for different reasons.
- Stir fried rice noodles with tofu, prawn, egg, peanut, green onion and bean sprout $8.75 (Lunch special price served with spring roll and satay)
- Really? Ketchup? I haven’t been to a Thai restaurant serving ketchup Pad Thai in a long time. It’s almost the red flag for “non-authentic Thai food”.
- To be honest, I actually don’t think ketchup Pad Thai tastes bad, but if you’re claiming to be an authentic Thai restaurant, then I think it’s misleading to sell ketchup Pad Thai.
- The authentic Pad Thai uses tamarind sauce and not Ketchup. Ketchup is an American thing, but even as an Americanized Pad Thai this one wasn’t great.
- The noodles were overly sauced and almost wet and soggy and I saw no sign of peanuts.
- There was very little egg, 3 crunchy shrimps, and very little tofu.
- For an authentic Pad Thai, I would suggest the Pad Thai from Bob Likes Thai Food if you’re on Main Street craving Thai, but otherwise the one from Khunnai Chang Elephant Thai Cuisine in downtown Vancouver, BC is the one I prefer.
- Thai Style fried rice with your choice of: crab meat and shrimp, chicken, beef or pork $8.75 (Lunch special price served with spring roll and satay)
- It was good fried rice, but not really authentic Thai style fried rice.
- The rice was actually quite wet and almost saucy, but it had good flavour and it was a bit sweet too.
- I ordered it with pork and the pieces were quite dry and there were a couple roughly chopped tomatoes in there too and there should be more.
- I hoped for more egg and bean sprouts and typically there should be some fresh chilies, but I think you just have to request them.
- Some cilantro, green onions and basil fried into the rice wouldn’t hurt either for more aromatics.
- Deep fried spring roll stuffed with noodles and mushroom ($7.50 a la carte)
- Each lunch special came with a spring roll and it wasn’t great so I wouldn’t recommend ordering it a la carte.
- It was almost all vermicelli noodles and very little mushroom and the quality was not there.
- The good things were that it wasn’t dry or over greasy and the roll was still crispy.
- Marinated in mixture of spices, broiled and served with peanut sauce. Pork or chicken. ($8.25 a la carte)
- Each lunch special came with a chicken satay stick and it was okay.
- It was a bit sweet in the marinade, decently charred and served with a creamy smooth peanut sauce.
- Malaysian satay sauce has peanuts in it, but authentic Thai satay sauce is smooth in texture, so that was legit.