Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sawan Cafe

Hello I'm back from my travels & we're back in biz!

When Cory suggested the Thai place by our office a few weeks ago, I rudely jumped down his throat and announced we were not going there. I have already been there. And I didn't like the Pad See Ew so they are effing fired. Yep. I'm not going to name any names but I also don't plan to review it, as it is not an adventure. Sawan Cafe, on the other hand, was a little place I spotted out of the corner of my eye while barreling down Magnolia one day. A nice looking dad and daughter were walking in with confidence- as if they had been there before. And I thought "that looks promising". So today when I was up to bat, it's what I chose. Cory made some sort of jerky resignation to eating with me. Noncommittal compliance with my choice. Apparently not a big Thai fan. But I appreciate that he didn't flat out complain- as I would have had to use my outside voice on him.

Anyhow, we made it down Magnolia and Cory even remembered exactly where it was (as I had previously pointed it out) so he scored some points. As we walked up there were diners leaving with smiles past a very lo-tech lunch special sign. A $4.95 lunch special sign. That is wayyy reasonable, right?

We walked on in and a smiling lady jumped to clean the table at the booth we were headed to, and spoke to us in an adorably high pitched helium voice. I wanted to chortle with glee over it- but I just did an inner chortle.

We looked around snapping photos and found there was no light but daylight coming through the front window- which did make taking photos (for um unprofessionals) very difficult. But it was very calming- as was the cute, clean and simple decor. Like... if they had a nap area for after you ate, it would be perfect.

After accepting our photos would be dark we chose a lunch special each, and I ordered to share... you guessed it Pad See Ew. Cory, of course was skeptical. Like a grumpy five year old. Sorry I think I am tired. Now I'm the grumpy five year old.

The basics:
Typical Thai fare with some interesting looking specials. At lunch there is a limited, but appealing lunch special list. You get a little soup, rice, and your dish for $4.95. You get to choose a meat unless it is specified.

So check it: I ordered the spicy eggplant vegetable dish. My meat was tofu. I also ordered a Thai iced tea (I order the tea at Thai places and the coffee at Vietnamese places. That's just how I do it.), and I informed Cory that off the non-lunch menu, we would be sharing some Pad See Ew. I said "trust me, you'll like it" while he made skeptical groans and faces. I ordered that with chicken.

The tea came out first- and that passed. Then the soup- it was just veggie broth and simple veggies. It was pretty bland, but I was into it.

Sometimes I get tom kha soup to start and it is so flavorful and spicy and filling that I can hardly move on to the rest of my order. This just sort of whet the ol' appetite. God what a terrible sentence. Instead of erasing it I will just say- I am sorry. THEN out came our Pad See Ew and I immediately snuck some egg. It was good! SO I started shoveling it onto my plate like a damn wild animal and Cory had to say "um don't you think we need to snap a photo of that first?" Damn it. Yes. So I hit rewind and we did.

When I finally got to eat it, I found I was correct- it was really good. Not like that bunk place by our office. It was just the right flavors and textures... the ones that made me fall in love with Pad See Ew when I first snuck a bite of it out of my roommate's leftovers in the fridge. Sorry Morgan! I realize sometimes the egg in Pad See Ew is not so much exciting as present, and I really liked how this egg was done. Next came the eggplant dish. It was good- not like to die for- but certainly eggplanty, spicy, and tofuey. The rice is a nice contrasting texture. I tasted Cory's also and I would say that's probably a really good way to go- I just like trying a veggie dish out so that folks who are not into meat know it's there and is bite-able.

On a side note I would like to say the bathroom is really clean- decorated and well attended to. Sometimes these lil' hole-in-the wall joints have a pretty depressing situation back there, but not these guys. Gals. Also there is some sort of shrine/offering in the hall on the floor on the way to the bathroom which I think indicates this joint is pretty legit.

Now... my only concern is... later I felt that special sweet taste in my mouth which hearkened back to the days when no one made a fuss about MSG. I do believe I need to get to the bottom of that. I could just be paranoid... but it was a little suspicious.

Cory: Are you seriously concerned about MSG, Alissa? MSG is one the highlights of all Asian food as far as I'm concerned, and any place that uses it is tops in my books. I mean, I've had plenty of good food sans-MSG but a nice sprinkling of that powder goes a long way toward improving the flavor of most dishes. Ah the miracles of chemistry...

Anywhoo...I was immediately bummed out when Alissa asked if we could have Thai food, and I can only assume that I made some sort of angry scowl to go along with my grumpy 5 year old groans, but I decided to let her have this one. It was, after all, her big day to pick & I couldn't very well welcome her back into town by promptly poo pooing her choice of lunch spot. So I acquiesced & rode shotgun while Alissa nearly got lost on the way there, secretly hoping all the while that she would give up trying to find it & take me elsewhere. But find it we did, so I was stuck. I've gotta say, this place isn't really much to look at from the outside. Or from the inside for that matter. You could easily pass by it without ever knowing it's there (so if you really wanna try it, keep your eyes peeled on the north side of Magnolia). The inside is tiny & mostly barren, save for a few happy customers. It was nice to see the smiling faces enjoying their lunches, but I generally have a problem dining in tiny places, so I still wasn't 100% on board. The delightfully squeaky waitress seated us at a booth near some strange naked lady lamps, which I'm pretty sure were in my friend's parents' basement when we were kids, and plopped a couple menus on the table.

Thankfully Alissa decided to be the man on this date & order some noodle dish for us to share (the pad see ew, or whatever) because I'm certainly no connoisseur of Thai food and, frankly, had no idea what the hell I was looking at or how to pronounce it. The one item I felt safe ordering was the yellow curry chicken, so that's what I did. And, just to be a copycat, I ordered a Thai iced tea too.

The iced tea came out first & only served to raise my level of skepticism. It looked like someone bled into a cup of tea. Casting my concerns aside, I stirred, sipped, and nodded my head. It was good! Kind of like tea. And creamy anemic blood. Sort of. Or maybe that's not at all what it tasted like, but whatever. It was tasty.
Next up was the pad see ew. Big flat noodles stir fried with egg, chicken, and veggies. "Well, this can't be half bad," I says to myself. And guess what? I was totally right. Not only was it not half bad, it was completely awesome! The other thing that was awesome was watching Alissa use both hands to shovel it into her mouth at a frightening pace. I'm certain now that if I'm ever in prison, I would like her to be there with me. Not to keep me company, but to help me tunnel to freedom.

The yellow chicken curry was last for me. I'm no curry expert either, but this was pretty good. The chicken was a teeny little bit overcooked, but the curry was spot on & more than made up for it. The dish also included potatoes, which tasted like...well, potatoes; and something else, which I can't recall but can only assume was awesome.
I also sampled Alissa's eggplant extravaganza. Eggplant is sort of a new thing for me. See, I was horribly scarred as a child when my 2nd grade teacher brought an eggplant casserole to class & passed it around for all the kids to sample. When no one took any, she got all upset & basically forced everyone to eat it. As you can imagine, forced eggplant is disgusting to an 8 year old; and I've been an 8 year old, as far as eggplant is concerned, ever since. This one was pretty good though. It didn't knock my socks off or anything, but it didn't make me spit it out, throw a temper tantrum, and get sent to the principal's office either...

And here is an unflattering photo of Alissa which she will post as a good sport since she is literally taking a bite. And trying to keep from laughing.

Good bite? Or just totally bites?

A: Well heck I would go on back there and have me some Pad Se Ew and Thai iced tea just about any time if I can figure out for sure that it wasn't all glistening in a MSG rich glaze. That Yellow Curry was really nice & I am sure there are several other menu items that are just as great.

C: Yeah, I'd bite that again. The red chili sauce is the business, btw. Bring on the MSG!


1907 1/2 W Magnolia Blvd
Burbank, CA 91506-1727
(818) 558-5051

Open Mon-Sat 11am-9:30pm

**Our reports are based on one visit/meal- so we're far from experts on these joints! so if you have advice or experiences you'd like to share, please feel free to enlighten us & our readers! Our goal is to give enough info that someone might feel okay trying somewhere new (or know to avoid it!). Thanks for reading :)

1 comment:

  1. Update: So I had this little candy in my purse until this weekend and thought hey- why don't I eat this candy before it unwraps and collects all the dirt I have in the bottom of my bottomless bag? So I popped it in my mouth as I cleaned my room. And after a moment I thought: I don't know Thai, but apparently Olé means THIS IS A GODDAMN COUGH DROP. But maybe you're into cough drops...