SINGAPORE - I was not very impressed with Sawadee Thai Cuisine when I first ate there two years ago.
After operating as a small stall for more than a decade, it was upgraded to a fancy restaurant.
And although the ambience was upgraded, service was not.
Now that it has had three years to find its groove, Sawadee Thai has become a force to be reckoned with.
It introduced new items to the menu and while these are good, it must be noted that most of the classics are much improved.
The Panaeng Red Curry Roast Duck (Gaeng Phed Ped Yang, $17) is still recommended.
And although I did not eat the Mao Shan Wang Durian Sticky Rice (Khao Neow Turian, $12), those who did raved about it.
At my last visit, I remember being most unimpressed by the Thai Iced Tea ($5.50).
I am happy to report that even that has improved tremendously.
Don't look down on the Superior Seafood Fried Rice (Khao Phad Talay, from $18). It does not look like it has any sort of incredible ingredients but once you try it, you'll taste the small chunks of crab flesh and the crispy crunch of the toasted rice.
You just need a drizzle of sauce over it, and it'll be a great dish.
Fried Fish Maw with Bean Sprouts (Kra Por Pla Phad Hang, from $14) can be found anywhere in Thailand but this version is delicious. I love that eggy taste, which adds a layer of creaminess.
While the Pan-seared Black Angus Beef Ribeye (Neau Ribeye Black Angus Yang, $32 for 220g) was wonderfully executed with a nice char on the outside yet tender to the bite, the robust and thick green curry sauce was incredible. You dip the beef into it but it is good enough to drink.
A good Papaya Salad (Som Tam, from $12) has crunch from the young green papaya, heat from chilli and tang from fish sauce and lime. This has all that, plus umami from dried shrimp.
The Thai-Style Otah on Clayplate (Hor Mok Talay Khanom Krok, $16 for seven pieces) tastes as you would expect. This does not taste too different from other renditions. That is good if you want something familiar but not if you want an experience.
Sawadee Thai Cuisine
9, Tan Quee Lan Street
Open daily 11am to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm