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Some Like It Hot

Taking it as it comes at Sawaddii.

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If you're the sensitive type, beware the dancing man. And if you see two dancing men on the menu at Sawaddii, things are really going to get hot.

Sawaddii, located in the 100 block of Union Avenue, serves the complex cuisine of Thailand in an eclectic environment. The bar in front sets the stage for a vibrant and deep, terra-cotta-colored dining room. The hardwood tables and fresh flowers give the small room a simple, clean, and warm feeling.

The menu is sorted by appetizers, salads and soups, curries, entrées, noodles and rices, and house specialties. The key in the corner of the menu signifies the heat or spiciness of the dishes. One dancing man means the dish is spicy; two dancing men means that you may be the one dancing after you eat it.

Our group started with the Crab Rangoon, four golden-brown fried wontons stuffed with delicate white crabmeat and accompanied by a tart sweet-and-sour sauce. The spring rolls were stuffed rice paper with fresh vegetables, tofu, and egg and crowned with a tangy honey-mustard sauce. The stuffing gave the rolls substance, and the sauce wasn't shabby either. My favorite appetizer, though, was the beef satay -- skewers of thinly sliced beef marinated in Sawaddii's signature blend of curry powder, grilled to perfection, and coupled with a peanut sauce so rich it could have put me in a trance.

We then sampled a couple of soups. The vegetable and tofu soup was flavorless, but making up for the disappointment was the Tum Yum -- a traditional hot-and-sour soup jazzed up with mushrooms, fresh basil, lemon grass, tomato wedges, medium-size shrimp, and baby scallops.

Our first entrée was the sweet-and-sour vegetables, a mixture of zucchini, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and pineapple chunks in a sweet-and-sour sauce. It was the perfect selection for the vegetarian at our table. The sauce enhanced the vegetables rather than overwhelming them, a common drawback to sweet-and-sour dishes. The Nam Tok Beef was spicy and tasty -- tender filets of beef flavored with lime, red chilis, peppers, red onions, scallions, and crushed roasted rice -- though it may have too much citrus for some palates.

What can I say about the Sam Rod? What a masterpiece! One half of a crispy, fried boneless duck topped with the most succulent sweet-and-sour sauce and displayed with basil rice. A visually tempting and mouth-watering dish. Rounding out our entrées was the chef's specialty of the evening, the Sawaddii Seafood -- a firm yet not overly done combination of mussels, oysters, shrimp, salmon, and scallops blended with scallions and garlic on a bed of cabbage, which demonstrated the creativity and pure decadence of the chef. I like that in a chef. Bravo!

For a sweet ending to our evening, we could not resist the custard with sticky rice, a substantial dessert. Not to be outdone, the fried vanilla ice cream with a hint of cinnamon was wonderful, and the fried bananas were enthusiastically shared at our table.

Open for lunch Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dinner Mon.-Thurs. 5-9:30 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 5-10:30 p.m.

Harry's New Detour; a super Super Bowl

Patrons of Harry's Detour on Cooper will soon have the option of dining at their favorite restaurant at another location. Harry Nicholas' new restaurant, Harry's Detour South Main, will open its doors on April 1st. The new Detour at 106 East G.E. Patterson is tucked in just behind Carnevale on South Main. The new location will also feature a courtyard for al fresco dining. Both locations will have the same dinner menu, but emphasis will be placed on the lunch menu at the new Detour because of expected heavier lunch traffic.

Super Bowl Sunday would have been a good time to be in Bubba's Ale House and Grille on Highway 64. During the game Budweiser selected Bubba's as one of 35 bars across the country to receive $15,000 to divide among their customers watching the game. The payout? A cool $390 per patron. That'll cover a lot of bad bets.

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