Review: Sa-wad-dee Thai Restaurant, Meridian Idaho
Sa-wad-dee is hands down the best Thai restaurant in the Boise area. I’ve eaten at them all, but none of them provide the depth of flavors, quality of food, or beauty of presentation that Sa-wad-dee brings to the table. I have been wanting to write a review of Sa-wad-dee for several years now. But it seems like every time I eat there it has been on a special date, a business lunch, or something else where snapping a bunch of photos is completely inappropriate. But I finally got my chance this past weekend during a more casual double date. We ordered all my favorites, favorites that I’ve compiled over the years of eating there, and dove in with excitement.
Appetizers and Salads at Sa-wad-dee
We started with a couple of my favorite appetizer menu items: Fresh Rolls and Larb.
The Fresh Rolls at Sa-wad-dee are quite good. Unlike so many other Boise Asian restuarants, Sa-wad-dee doesn’t fill their rolls with a bunch of rice noodles. They put a few in there….the perfect amount actually….but mostly the rolls are filled with lettuce and basil, which goes a long way in making them seem amazingly “fresh”. About a third of the roll is comprised of a very nice subtly seasoned ground pork. The ingredient ratios are perfect together. The rolls are paired with a very nice peanut sauce. Delicious!
But I’m sad to say that I didn’t take as much pleasure in the larb. I’ve ordered Sa-wad-dee’s larb numerous times in the past and have always enjoyed it. But this time I noticed that it was not very well seasoned. It was a bit bland actually. I’m not sure if they were having an off-night, if they changed their recipe, or if all other larbs now pale in comparison with the amazing larb published in Saveur Magazine. But regardless, Sa-wad-dee’s larb has a nice sour flavor from the high amounts of lime juice they put in it that makes it enjoyable. If you’ve never had larb before, Sa-wad-dee’s version is an OK place to start, but just know that there are much better tasting larbs elsewhere.
I’ve also ordered the Fried Tofu, Shrimp in a Blanket, Chicken Satay, and Asian Sesame Popcorn Chicken in the past. All pretty good. On their salad menu, I’ve ordered the Green Papaya salad and Numtok (grilled beef with mint and chili) in the past. Both are exceptional.
Delicious and Authentic Thai Soup in Boise
Have you ever had Tom Kah soup before? It is a traditional Thai soup made with a coconut milk broth, typically heavily flavored with lemon grass, kaffir lime, and ginger. It is absolutely fantastic, and I find myself ordering a bowl nearly every time I go out to a Thai restaurant.
Not only is Sa-wad-dee’s version served in a cool sterno-heated porcelain warming bowl, it is some of the best tasting I’ve ever had. It has a great clean lime flavor that is hard to beat. The lime is there, but is not overbearing like it so often is in other Tom Kah soups. You can taste both the kaffir lime leaves, as well as fresh lime juice or zest. A very nice twist. There is also a strong lemongrass flavor as well, which provides a great clean and bright flavor. The lime and lemongrass is a perfect combination. The coconut milk broth looks like it would be very rich, but, surprisingly, only has a mild coconut flavor. It is a bit sweet from some added palm/brown sugar (as it should be), but doesn’t feel rich or dessert-like. The large chunks of button mushrooms seemed a bit off putting to me at first site, but as I ate them with the soup, I found that they worked perfectly. Sa-wad-dee gives the choice of chicken, shrimp, or veg in their Tom Kah. We went with the shrimp and it was perfectly cooked. Sa-wad-dee’s Tom Kah soup is the best!
Sa-wad-dee’s Curry and Entrees are Perfect!
Sa-wad-dee offers page after page of authentic Thai entrees on their menu. There are 10 curries, 11 fried rices, 10 seafood dishes, 14 noodle dishes, 8 vegetarian dishes, 16 house specialties, and 7 chef’s recommendations. It’s a bit overwhelming to be honest. But over the years, I’ve tried a high percentage of them. All have been extremely delicious. I have yet to order an entree choice at Sa-wad-dee and been disappointed. I can’t write about them all today, so I’ll just focus on a few of my favorites.
From their curry selections, I’ve had the Red Curry, Panang Curry, Yellow Curry, and Beef Massamun Curry. Each are very very good, and definitely worth ordering. They can adjust the heat level to your liking on any of them, ranging from “no bite at all” to “tears streaming down your face.” But as good as all the curries are, I believe that the Yellow Curry is the best. It is simply amazing. Even the big potato chunks! The Yellow Curry is sweet, spicy, and good enough to bath in. It has a first-rate galangal, lemongrass, and “everything nice” flavor. The chicken is moist, tender, and tastes like chicken. The potatoes are perfectly cooked each and every time. This curry is sensational, dazzling, wicked awesome, and every other fantastic synonym you can think of. Great great great!
From their House Specialties selections, I’ve enjoyed the Pad Prik King, Crispy Basil Chicken, Ginger Lovers, and Garlic Lovers. Again, all have been exquisite. But on this visit, we ordered the Garlic Lovers beef.
I don’t know if I can addequately describe just how terrific this dish is. The beef is extremely tender, and has a decent beef flavor. It is served swimming in an extremely delicious brown sauce that has strong black pepper and garlic notes. Surprisingly, the sauce isn’t overly salty, but is rather light while still being very savory. This is due to it being a broth-based sauce. It is very very good, and as the name suggests, is full of garlic notes, but not strong enough to leave you breathing garlic fire for the rest of the day. Mmmm…….I might have to go order this for lunch today!
Tasty Thai Dessert in Meridian
I’m not usually one to order dessert at the end of my meal, but Sticky Rice with Sweet Mango seemed fitting on this trip. This traditional Thai dessert is delicious and satisfying, and Sa-wad-dee’s version is some of the best I’ve had. It was getting late in the evening, so my picture is crap, but this dessert is far from that term.
The sticky rice is cooked in a sweetened coconut milk. It has great flavor, but isn’t sickly sweet like so many other versions of this dish I’ve had. That same sweet coconut milk syrup is pooled on the plate, and pairs perfectly with the sweet, tangy, ripe mango that cuts the richness of the dessert. Exquisite!
Eat at Sa-wad-dee Whenever in Boise Area
So next time you find yourself in the Boise area and are looking for some good Thai food, make sure you forgo the rest and head straight to Sa-wad-dee. You can’t go wrong with them.
The Bald Gourmet highly recommends Sa-wad-dee Thai Restaurant