Dining Reviews

Savoring Sensuous and Inventive Flavors at Sawasdee

Soquel restaurant serves up tender house dumplings, loaded curries, and more

A takeout dinner perfumed with spices and inspired by culinary expertise—that was our wonderful Thai meal from Sawasdee

Every time I taste food from this fine kitchen I wonder why I don’t feast on these sensuous curries, stir-fries, and inventive salads more often. (For the record, I have no excuse.) 

The absolute destination dish from Sawasdee has got to be the plump, tender house dumplings ($9.95). Each large dumpling involves a layering of pork and shrimp infused by garlic and ginger, wrapped in transparent wonton and joined by a sensational sauce (possibly soy-based) filled with sweet and spicy mystery. One bite and we realized we could have made a complete dinner on a double order of these fabulous dumplings, which—like every item in our Sawasdee meal—tasted wonderful at any temperature. 

White wine, for example the refreshing Birichino Malvasia Bianca we had on hand, is great with Thai food, although beer is probably its natural partner. 

Our two other entrees pretty much summed up my personal favorites in this cuisine. One was a country-style red curry (without coconut milk) loaded with attitude, spices like red chile and cinnamon, and robustly-sliced vegetables ($11.95). Along with carrot, bell peppers, mushrooms and string beans, the curry arrived with our requested extras, cubes of outstanding tofu, plus thin slices of pork. Yes, Sawasdee lets you have exactly what you want, even the counterintuitive combo of tofu and pork. 

We ladelled our curry into bowls filled with nutty brown rice ($2.50) and enjoyed the sensation of lips growing slightly numb. The other favorite was silver noodle salad ($11.95), a large portion of transparent bean thread noodles tossed with ground chicken, mint leaves, cilantro, plump shrimps and a wicked good, spicy lemon dressing. I have always loved this disarming combination of silky cool noodles and fiery sweet/hot dressing. The flavor intensity grows with each bite, and like everything Thai it is absolutely addictive. 

Sawasdee’s huge menu is packed with exciting food, food that tastes like perfume and suggests a bit of consciousness alteration. It’s frankly fun to eat: The eyes have as much to do as the taste buds. Next time, in addition to those outrageous dumplings, we’ll work our way through the rest of the curries. 

5050 Soquel Drive, Soquel. Open daily 11am-9:30pm, and until 10pm Friday-Saturday. sawasdeesoquel.com.  

Trends of the Times

This is the sort of inspired win-win alliance destined to pop up more frequently. A winery tasting room, in this case Ser, has joined up with a fine restaurant, Cafe Sparrow, to maximize opportunities for wine and food pairings in the heart of Aptos Village. You can now enjoy indoor tasting of the intriguing wines made by Nicole Walsh, along with a menu of foods ranging from cheese plates, crabcakes, and pork belly appetizers, to Caesar salad, seared ahi, and the infamous Sparrow Burger. 

Ser staff will order your food and it will be delivered to you at the tasting room, Thursday-Saturday from 4-7pm. Not all tasting rooms have their own kitchens, but they all have access to fine dining in their neighborhood. 

10 Parade St., Suite B, Aptos. Thursday-Friday, 3-7pm; Saturday-Sunday, noon-7pm. serwinery.com/tasting-room

Vineyard Visit to Muns

Go vineyard tasting on Sunday, Oct. 25, surrounded by the freshly harvested Pinot Noir and Syrah vineyards of Muns, overlooking Monterey Bay. Make a reservation for your choice of seating times. Spectacular wines; spectacular setting.

25600 Loma Prieta Ave., Los Gatos. 408-234-2079, munsvineyard.com

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

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