Sri Sawadee

Special thanks to Sri Sawadee for extending this food review invitation.

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Driving along Jalan Sri Bahari, it is easy to overlook the faded store facade of Sri Sawadee Thai Food Restaurant (ศรีสวัสดีร้านอาหารไทย). If this occurs to you, I am here to tell you that you are missing out one of George Town's hidden gem!
This family business has been operating at this spot for the past 18 years, making it to be among the earliest Thai restaurants in Penang that are still in existence today. The wife, Mrs. Ng, hails from northern Thailand and is the main chef in the kitchen. However to suit local taste buds, the menu is adapted to appeal to mainstream customers.
One of Sri Sawadee's signature dish is Pak Sak (RM40.00), which is Thai-style steamed fish. This dish is named after Pak Sak River (แม่น้ำป่าสัก), a tributary of Chao Phraya River in central Thailand. The choice of fish is red snapper (ปลากะพงแดง) because its freshness is more consistent.
In terms of taste, the fish's texture is compatible with the Thai-style soup. The flesh of red snapper is intrinsically sweet on its own, but when paired with sour and spicy flavors of the soup, its gastronomic appeal magnifies significantly.

Unlike many restaurants, Sri Sawadee uses charcoal instead of gel as fuel to heat the serving plate. According to Mr. Ng, fuel gel has an unpleasant "artificial" odor - a sentiment which I share. On the other hand, charcoal imparts the preferred "toasty" feeling to the fish.

The Green Curry (แกงเขียวหวาน, Kaeng Khiao Wan, RM15.00) is another signature dish here. Green curry paste is made from fine Thai spices such as green chili pepper, turmeric, coriander and lemongrass. The curry is cooked with chicken, eggplant (brinjal), tomatoes and other fresh vegetables, then topped with evaporated milk before serving. The resulting dish is quite thick and creamy, making it highly enjoyable with white rice.
In Malaysia, many Thai ingredients needs to be sourced abroad, making the supply chain inconsistent at times. The key to preparing good curry is the ability to maintain consistency despite unavailability of certain ingredients. After nearly two decades in the business, it should not be surprising that Sri Sawadee is proficient in in-house preparation of curry paste.

As for the Ota-Ota Seafood In Coconut (ห่อหมก, RM18.00), this lovely dish comprises of seafood such as fish, squid and shrimp, all served in a bowl made from young coconut. The rich flavoring of seafood works in perfect harmony with the flesh of coconut.
In addition, it is also delightful to enjoy the coconut flesh which has been flavored by savory seafood gravy. The marriage of different flavors is difficult to explain in words; you need to experience it on your own!

Last but not the least, the scrumptious appeal of Yam Sarm Krop (ยำสามกรอบ, RM12.00) is not something to be trifled with. This dish is made from crispy fish maw, chicken and shrimps, all stir-fried with sour-and-sour dressing until the meats turn golden brown.
The dressing of this dish is moderately spicy. Sri Sawadee shows us how so many flavors can be packed so densely in a single dish. As soon as I make my first bite, I immediately know that there is no stopping until the entire dish is cleared!

As for desserts, Thap Thim Krop (ทับทิมกรอบ, RM2.80) is the choice today. Sri Sawadee's version is quite generous in terms of ingredients: red- and green-dyed water chestnut, jackfruit and cendol. Most restaurants only provide red-dyed water chestnut and jackfruit, but sold at twice the price!
The drinks menu at Sri Sawadee is not particularly fanciful. We opted for Soya Bean (น้ำเต้าหู้, RM2.00) in order to place emphasis on the food instead.
Compared to other Thai restaurants in the vicinity, the pricing at Sri Sawadee is very affordable to say the least. Such value is made possible without compromising taste and quality. If good and inexpensive Thai food is your cup of tea, Sri Sawadee is the perfect choice for you!
For individual diners, Sri Sawadee's set lunch is available from 12:00pm to 3:00pm including weekends. For mere RM9.40, the meal consists of a choice of fried rice, chicken wings, mango salad, tom yum soup, and a choice of either fruit juice or Thap Thim Krop. I bet you cannot find such good offers elsewhere nowadays.
Set lunch is also available if you are dining in a group. The 2-person set meal consists of 3 dishes and is priced at RM22.00, while the 4-person set meal comes with 4 dishes for RM45.00 only. This is roughly the price that you pay in a hawker center, but in an air-conditioned restaurant setting!

Overall, I must say that my visit to Sri Sawadee has been a gratifying dining experience. Therefore, I highly recommend that you look beyond the faded restaurant facade because you may be missing out something here!
Name: Sri Sawadee Thai Food Restaurant (ศรีสวัสดีร้านอาหารไทย)
Address: 17, Jalan Sri Bahari, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-263-1492
Business hours: 12:00pm-3:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm, closed on Mondays
Coordinates: 5.42084 N, 100.33219 E
Directions: From either direction of Transfer Road (Jalan Transfer) turn to Jalan Sri Bahari. Sri Sawadee is approximately 150 meters ahead on the right. It is located several doors after Foong Wei Heong. Street parking is available on both sides of Jalan Sri Bahari.

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