Sawadee, Ponsonby

Anyone who has been, has friends that have been, or is thinking about going to Thailand, will know that “Sawadee” means “Hello” in Thai. Sawadee (the restaurant) to me, is one of those “safe bets” when going out for dinner. One of those places where, despite much “umm-ing” and “ahh-ing” over similar-yet-unfamiliar counterparts, you decide upon because you know what you’re going to get. Sawadee is invariably the chosen venue when the criteria is simply; BYO, good company in large(ish) numbers and consistently good Thai food. And last Saturday, yet again, I left this place feeling full, content and slightly drunk.

The large tables and variety of dining spaces at this fail-safe Thai eatery is a key factor in its success. I have eaten here with groups of 3-20 and never been disappointed. The service is always friendly and extremely tolerant of a side-effect prevalent at any place of ethnic food – menu mispronunciation. This is both a real and contagious problem with many a Kiwi who assumes he/she knows all they need to know about Thai cuisine because they’ve been there once on holiday… and I am no exception. I think I may put a charitable business plan together for an appropriate awareness week…

Many a lesson has been learnt when trying to pronounce the name of any dish that isn’t a coloured curry or Pad Thai. Some of the stir fry names are despicably nasty – I’m sure some proprietors invent impossible-to-pronounce names for supposedly “signature” dishes to lighten the moods of their wait staff. I have been the victim of a number of these devilishly difficult tongue-twister names and have since resorted to sheepishly saying the number beside it. But, as all good Thai/Chinese/similar restaurant menus do, their dishes are numbered; meaning any poor attempts at verbalizing the Thai name of your chosen meal can be quickly forgotten by firmly stating the number.

Our most recent visit involved eight of us around a large table, a bottle of wine each (following a few beers at home of course) and plans for post-dinner Ponsonby partying. Sawadee proved perfect for this plan and I think I speak for everyone when I say I’d happily visit again.

Sawadee 4/5

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