From the outside, Sa-Wad-Dee looks like another generic strip mall joint. On the inside, it's a little slice of Thai heaven.
Plaster on two of the walls appears to peel away, revealing whimsical Thai landscapes filled with temples, mountains and elephants. Colorful fresh flowers, Bodhisattva statues and some knickknacks line a ledge that divides the tables from the bar area, and the faces of two serene golden Buddhas hang on the brick red wall behind the bar. An overhead fan spins lotus-petal-shaped bamboo blades.
The waitstaff was gracious and attentive. The waiter kept our glasses filled with ice water while my friends and I waited about 20 minutes for the Birthday Boy. They didn't rush to take our order when he showed up, but instead gave us time to make fun of him for almost missing his own party.
Eventually, I opted for the Pad Thai (City Style) and the others ordered Sesame Lover, Vegetable Lover and Garlic Lover. (One of my friends wished the dishes had less "Pizza Hut-ish" names.)
Our meals started with simple lettuce salads drizzled with dressing and topped with a stuffed wonton. The aforementioned friend exclaimed, "That little fried thing on top is good!"
The main courses arrived, and we oohed and ahhed over the vibrantly colored vegetables and the lovely presentation of jasmine and fried rice. My Pad Thai was perfectly prepared, and the portion was large enough that I took half of it home to eat the next day. Nobody had any complaints with the food, but we did discover that spicy means spicy.
After clearing our plates, the waitress placed a complimentary scoop of homemade coconut ice cream in front of Birthday Boy. We sang "Happy Birthday" along with the wait staff, but only because Birthday Boy cringed when the waitress suggested it. The waitress then snapped a Polaroid of him. Birthday Boy protested and said he didn't like the picture, so she teased him-I tipped extra for that.
At some point I slid the ice cream into the center of the table, and we all grabbed spoons and dug in. The delicious dessert disappeared quickly, and the waitress graciously offered to bring us more.
The waiter delivered our bill in a decorated wooden box that provided a stylish end to the meal. The reasonable prices, excellent service and superb food guarantee that we'll be back.
-Rose Reifsnyder has never met a peanut sauce she didn't like.