I had always wanted to try 泰國食品店, but then I saw this restaurant listed under another name, and after matching the address, deemed that they are the same thing. I've had another so-called private thai kitchen in CWB before but was not that impressed, so I wanted to see if this one would change my mind.
The building is full of signs that lead you to the "members only" restaurant, and the big sign Sawali Club is prominently hung on the staircase. Enter as you please, there is door man to ask for your VIP card. I think it's just some loophole they use to avoid certain licensing for restaurants, but somebody might be able to shed light on these private kitchen establishments and tell me what the fuss is all about.
The place is clean, spacious and simply decorated, giving it a homely feel, especially with the shelf of dried goods and special thai sauces and coconut juice on display for sale. The TV shows local soap opera, but I don't think anyone was paying attention to it, as most of the clients were in fact, westerners. There were 2 couples - male westerner and thai/asian female companion. and a group of 10 young lads, some in T shirts, some in swanky suits, all having a fantastic meal out. As for our group, we had 3 westerners and of course me, the Chinese food fanatic.
The waitress strongly recommended the grilled chicken which they don't normally have unless you order in advance (as are a few other dishes like curry crab), but we didn't feel particularly keen on it, so we ordered:
- papaya salad with salted crab: for an extra 2 bucks you get the salted crab on top of the salad so we thought, why not. But it turns out (as I had already suspected) the salted crab is a rather raw looking, hard, non-chewable, non-crunchy crab that's chopped up in pieces and mixed into the salad, and was duly brushed aside by our team.
- combo platter: stuffed chicken wing (crispy outside, generous filling of vegetables inside, and some skills required in preparing it), spring rolls and prawn cakes, which was all very tasty when combined with the 2 sauces provided.
- thai country style beef curry: this was a little disappointing as we preferred the thicker curry sauce (and yes, we'll stick to what we know and order the red/green/yellow curry with coconut sauce next time), but it was a generous bowl of tender beef slices, fresh okra and green beans. The sauce wasn't spicy but still quite fragrant, but as it was quite watery, it didn't go too well with the rice (looked almost like chiu chow porridge).
- pad thai with seafood: the addition of squid to the fresh prawns was quite pleasant, and the noodles were well seasoned, not spicy (but you can always add chilli to your serving), again quite a generous portion, and tasted pretty awesome.
- thai fried cabbage: we had a choice of cabbage leaf (green )or stem (white), and after opting for the greens we were not disappointed. The vegetables were still glistening and very green in colour, had a good garlicky taste to it, and was not oily at all. The seasoning was mild and complimented the dish well.
- dessert: the standard coconut juice with sago in little banana leave packets, and sticky mango rice pudding. Both came in generous portions again (8 sago puddings, a full mango with a big pile of sticky rice). Special mention for the sticky rice, though a little on the sweet side, was very well cooked - warm, sticky, chewy, and not dry (unlike the one I had a few days ago at a certain "famous" thai restaurant in Kowloon City).
It's BYOB so we brought some Tsing Tao, I had the medler and longan drink which had a lot of ice but at least it wasn't too sweet. There are 4 condiments which you can flavour your dish with. including fish sauce and chilli pepper. I love spicy food so I was quite liberal with the chilli pepper, but otherwise I would say that the dishes were already well seasoned.
Tea was refilled regularly, and the waitresses were all friendly and cheerful, and little thoughts like chilling our beer before we got onto the next bottle was appreciated. No service charge, and the dishes are pretty cheap for HK price, starting at $38 for the appetisers and salads, $48 up for curries, and even seafood was in the $80-100 range.
Date of Visit: Mar 16, 2010
Spending per head: Approximately HKD90(Dinner)Other Ratings:
Value for Money 5