On one plate ...

Sa-Wad-Dee Thai restaurant opened about eight months ago in an unpretentious storefront along Fairview Avenue in Meridian. Last December, Thailand natives Pat Pveesakâ and his wife, Suwannee, revamped the fledgling restaurant's menu and started working magic with their handmade sauces and authentic Bangkok-area influence. Pveesakâ' s family has owned a curry factory in Thailand for 40 years, and the intimate knowledge of native flavors now flows from the couple's able hands (do try Sa-Wad-Dee's green curry). To wit, while cooking at a Thai restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska, Pveesakâ' s cuisine was rated the best Thai food in Omaha in 2000.

While looking around the clean, welcoming dining room and sipping cold Singha beer from frosted mugs on an early Friday night, my husband and I learned that the menu offers over 150 choices. Dishes with names like Salmon in the Jungle, Thai Chili Noodles and Chicken Volcano alongside staples like Pad Thai, Larb and Tom Kah Kai, made it tough to decide what to order.

Sa-Wad-Dee makes a nice version of my favorite Thai appetizer, Mieng Kum ($5.95), which is composed of dried bay shrimp, toasted coconut, diced ginger, tiny lime wedges and crunchy peanuts placed in little piles atop individual leaves of green leaf lettuce. Once drizzled with some handmade ginger syrup, I like to roll the bundles up like little burritos of the jungle, and the flavors are both exotic and healthy.

We also shared the Spicy Grilled Beef Salad ($8.95), which was flavorful from the use of lemongrass, mint and red onion. The produce was fresh, the beef was tender and the spiciness (which we ordered medium hot) induced just enough sniffle to make us smile.

My favorite dish was the Seafood Hor Mok in Fresh Young Coconut ($16.95), which was made up of a fresh coconut vessel brimming with perfectly cooked seafood in an addictive coconut milk sauce. After savoring plump scallops, delicious shrimp, tender mussels, squid and buttery salmon, we scraped out and consumed the fresh coconut.

Throughout our meal, both our waiter (who resembled Bruce Lee) and busboy were attentive and friendly. The name Sa-Wad-Dee means "hello" in Thai, so I encourage you to do just that and say hello to a terrific Thai restaurant.

-Jennifer Hernandez enjoys being Thai'd up.

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