Sawatdee Bar & Cafe

Twin Cities, Minnesota


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I've been going to this Sawatdee and the old Sawatdee in Uptown for quite some time as a vegetarian (now vegan). I found out after eating the VEGETARIAN pad thai that it contains fish sauce. I've had that dish so many times and I can't begin to say how violated I feel. That's SO disgusting.

I confirmed with Supenn, the owner, and she replied in an e-mail:

"Questions arise with Oyster sauce/fish sauce and whether a particular vegetarian wants to eat these items. Most items do not have fish sauce (only a couple of salads and they can be ordered "no fish sauce"). Oyster sauce is a main brown flavoring sauce and is in lots of stirfry dishes. Both of these sauces can be special ordered "no oyster sauce or no fish sauce", but we cannot guarantee how tasty the food will be when cooked with only soy sauce. Most curries have shrimp paste and are water-based; soups, generally have chicken broth. So these items are not advisable for strict vegetarians."

So basically, Sawatdee assumes that vegetarians eat fish and that fish is vegetarian. I feel extremely violated and will not be returning until they have marked vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, and a clear description of what those words mean, because it's clear they don't know. Servers there are confused about the ingredients in each dish, at best.

If you do go to Sawatdee, be sure to tell the server, "no fish sauce, no oyster sauce, no shrimp paste, no chicken broth."

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The food is good but not the best in the cities that I have had. I prefer Chiang's in Uptown. Excellent food and excellent service at Chiang's.

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I walked into Sawatdee confident I could find something vegetarian. Everything but EVERYTHING was made with Fish Sauce. I've been a vegetarian since I was five, and I could smell it right away when I walked in. I ordered springrolls and almost vomited when i bit into it, and even that had "essence" of fish sauce in it. ugh. I can't even imagine whats in the back of that kitchen. I woudldn't trust anything vegetarian on that menu.

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I have asked numerous waiters at the St. Cloud Sawatdee if the Country Style Curry (w/Tofu) has any fish or oyster sauce...on three different occassions they said no.

I don't know if all of the Sawatdee Restaurants are uniform, but I imagine they can make a dish without fish sauce.

They have the BEST tofu ever!

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The sign out front says "Seafood and Vegetarian," but who in their right mind would consider fish sauce to be vegetarian-friendly? They put it in almost every dish. The last time I went (the last time I intend to go - ever) I ordered pad thai with tofu and it tasted suspiciously fishy. I alerted the waiter and he said he'd take it back to the kitchen and have it remade. He returned with the same plate saying that the "ladies in the back" claimed the original dish had no fish sauce in it - I was mistaken. Honey, I've been a vegetarian for 15 years and I know fish when I taste it. Even by meat-eater standards this place isn't that amazing. I mean, they put iceberg lettuce in their spring rolls. Iceberg freakin' lettuce. Just avoid this place...

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it's easy to dismiss our one ubiquitous "chain" Thai restaurant as mediocre and americanized (both often true), but at the same time they can turn out some pretty decent food on a good day.

however, definitely be sure to find out if a dish is vegan/vegetarian, or can be made that way. in addition to the usual Thai culprits of fish sauce, shrimp paste and oyster sauce, i was informed once by a server that the innocent-sounding 'country vegetable curry' is in fact made with chicken broth. where on earth they got the loony idea that a Thai green curry should be made with chicken broth is beyond me. it's a good thing i hadn't ordered that dish that day, or else i may have melted into a sorry puddle of contamination like the wicked witch of the west.

a lot of the variation in food quality from visit to visit just seems to depend on who's in the kitchen that day. this also applies to their spicyness level of 1-5: on any given day, a 2 could be more what you'd consider a 4, or vice versa. the sole regulator of heat seems to be how much crushed red chili pepper the cook decides to throw in the dish. so if you are sensitive to spicy food, you might want to aim low, just to be safe.

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I pretty much only go here when I have a hankering for Curry Fried Rice & tofu (without the eggs). Not alot of consistency when it comes to most entrees though. Sometimes they're fine, and you get what you order, other times not so good.

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