“Sawasdee” is a common way to greet friends and loved ones in Thailand. It’s warm and inviting, which is the vibe owners John and Walailak Conrad are trying to create at Sawasdee Thai Elevated in Plainview. But they haven’t lost style points in the process. The couple blended authenticity with sophistication for a modern dining experience that allows patrons to make a brief but great escape to Thailand.
“We have striking images of elephants that form an archway to the dining room and murals of the Siriwatanawisut Temple from my wife’s hometown in northern Thailand,” said John, who opened the space with wife Walailak in July. “We want our guests to become immersed in the Thai culture and we raise the bar when it comes to presentation and cuisine.”
John has made a point of using antibiotic-and hormone-free meat coupled with authentic preparation techniques like utilizing mortar and pestles to pound the garlic and chilies by hand.
“It makes a difference. Rather than putting the spices through a food processor, when you pound the ingredients together in a mortar they get better incorporated—it’s almost like the disparate ingredients become one.”
Walailak has her finger on the pulse of the kitchen, working very closely with the chef to craft a menu that appeals to brazen foodies and those who are a little less adventurous.
“For the diner who is intimidated by Thai food, we have chicken wings, strip steak and fried calamari to keep them part of the experience.”
But those searching for traditional fare can feast on the beef short ribs with massaman curry and pad Thai that are so tender using a knife is an insult to the chef. The pad Thai is dressed with fresh tamarind and palm sugar as opposed to white sugar that is overly sweet and takes away from the highlights of spice.
Another well-regarded entrée is the crispy pork belly that is sautéed with onions, scallions, bell pepper, holy basil and bird eye chili for just the right amount of heat.
The cocktails mirror the menu’s goal of incorporating Thai ingredients. The Thai coconut cocktail is prepared with lemon grass infused simple syrup, fresh lime juice and coconut rum. It’s light, citrus composition brings energy to a hazy day.
Sawasdee boasts an impressive wine selection of 21 different vinos that pair wonderfully with Thai cuisine featuring reds, whites and aged spirits from Thailand.
“Paumanok North Fork of Long Island’s semi-dry Riesling loves spicy food for several reasons. The off-dry…sweet nature helps the wine offset foods with heat, and is really great with salty edged foods, too. The usual brighter acidity makes it work with spicy food with lighter main ingredients and proteins, like fish.”
The community has been embracing the new addition to the dining scene.
“One gentleman enjoyed lunch so much he came back the same evening for dinner with a friend. That is the type of response we want to preserve.”