1 review of Sawadi in English
Do you know what Nuoc Nam (or Nam Pla) is?
It's a sauce made from rotting fish and salt, slowly festering in vats until it yields a pungent, yellowish sauce.
It may sound disgusting, but if you've imbibed in Thai, Vietnamese or any Southeast Asian cuisine, you've likely ingested it in some form. It's one of those subtle things that provides the "umami" in those cuisines. In moderation, and in the right hands, it's delicious.
Unfortunately, you will not find the right hands at Sawadi. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the chef here doesn't even have hands. Maybe some non-functional prosthetic and a hook. Because homeboy cannot cook.
Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating. Surely s/he must have hands to make the most beautifully presented "mini imperial rolls" and colorful spring rolls I've ever seen. Some of the items here look like they belong in a food magazine, more so than some janky Parisian suburb. Kudos for that, chef - you've earned your one star that I have to give by default.
But back to the Nuoc Nam... While I do appreciate this bold brew, I prefer my green papaya salad to taste less of fermented anchovie and salt and more like, well, green papaya. And maybe some chili.
Chili - it's that hot, (usually) red stuff in kind of a tubular/pointy form that you slice up and put into Southeast Asian cuisine.
I know the locals are afraid of it, but it's one of the defining characteristics of a green papaya salad. Even one slice of it would've made it OK. But no, instead of chili or peanuts or mung bean sprouts or shrimp or crab, the only accompaniment to this shredded green papaya was half a bottle of Nuoc Nam.
Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I went further in my à la carte adventure (following the rule that the prix fixe menu is for suckas at Asian restaurants) and ordered a simple dish of Pad Thai noodles (with chicken, or so they claimed).
While the noodles that I did eventually get (about 15 minutes after everyone else at my table was served) were actual, rice-based Thai noodles, they were presented in a bland Chow Mein type dressing. No sprouts, no mint, no sweetness, and – of course – no chili.
I asked for chili to be brought out of course, and then was shocked at the choice: Would I like sauce or a whole fresh chili?
Is that even a question? Never mind the fact that you don't have the proper dried chili flakes, but why would I squirt sriracha "rooster" sauce (which he brought out anyway) on my Pad Thai?
I did get the fresh chili as well, impressed that it was an actual bird's eye chili... Until I tasted it and found that it only had moderate heat. Another 7€ wasted.
Being a group lunch, I figured I'd be a sport and order dessert. Having erred by going off the established menu, I asked for the same dessert as everyone else - the coconut ball. It was fine. No different than the many coconut balls I've eaten at however many Asian restaurants in France, where you can usually pick them up for a piddly 50c piece. So I got the bill and... 4€ for that!?
In all, I ended up spending 17,5€. Which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't exorbitant. But for that amount, you'd expect to at least be somewhat satisfied or maybe even have your dishes come out roughly when your dining companions' do.
To be fair, everyone else was alright with their dishes – the standard nems and curries you can get just about everywhere – all at a more reasonable tab. But then, ignorance is bliss, isn't it?
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Places nearby Sawadi
La Cocotte et la Marmite 76 rue de Paris, 92110 Clichy
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