Dine or Dash: Sawadee

Comforting Foods and a Bustling Atmosphere


Sawadee Thai Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ray Gill, Arts Writer

Just a few blocks away from the University of Utah is a bustling rustic building fit with a modern take on Thai food. It’s hard to miss the large windows that show off its warm and welcoming atmosphere. The line out the door at Sawadee Thai Restaurant is a clear indication that it’s a popular spot for locals who enjoy Southeast Asian cuisine. It’s so popular, I’d suggest ordering takeout rather than dining in because the wait can get the best of your hunger. 


The Ingredients 

Sawadee Thai Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

The large windows that make up the forefront of the restaurant simply don’t do the interior justice. From the exposed brick with its golden accents to the traditional Thai dresses hung behind glass, the place is clearly authentic. The manager, Wilat Mong, stood at the entrance welcoming folks and taking to-go orders. “The restaurant has been in business for the last 14 years,” Mong said ― which is how long he and other staff, including the cook, have been there.  

The dinner menu opens up describing a cacophony of flavors and colors including the traditional pad thai to a more unique jackfruit with Thai sweet sticky rice. The dinner menu ranges from about $15 to $20 — a bit steep for the average college student. The lunch menu, however, has a special for $9.75 with a choice of two items such as a stir fry and curry. These dishes are also served with a deep-fried spring roll, salad and jasmine rice, ensuring you will leave with a full stomach.

Many of the dishes initially struck me as familiar. However, they were unique in their execution. All of the plates were served with generous portions. Starting off with the appetizers, the crispy spring rolls, fried tofu and crab sawadee were nicely plated and each was accompanied with a different spicy or sweet dip. The taste was just as expected — crispy and tasty. 

Sawadee Thai Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

The flavors of the pad thai dish had an almost street feel to them. The pad thai was a favorite of the owner himself, which is why I chose it. Truly, the yellow curry packs a savory punch with each scoop. This doesn’t just apply to food, but the drinks as well. There are both virgin and alcoholic drinks available. I recommend trying the Thai coffee, as it is quite sweet and still savors a familiar coffee-earthy tone. 

The crescendo of the experience was the pleasurable staff that seemed to be everywhere at once in the busy restaurant. Speaking to Natcha Kambuang, my server, I got a glimpse behind the emerald curtain. Kambuang said she loves working at Sawadee Utah Thai Restaurant and seeing the true joy in all of the customers she sees every day. It was a bit difficult getting more information since the restaurant was quite busy. It was so packed, it was a feat trying to interview anyone at the restaurant. 


The Verdict

Sawadee Thai Restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Cassandra Palor | Daily Utah Chronicle)

I had been mulling for a bit about visiting Sawadee since it’s been recommended to me, but I worried that the buzz wouldn’t match the true experience. Yet, from the moment of entrance to the second I stepped out of the door, I can say the food truly does meet the hype. The inviting customer service kept me well entertained, calm and gave me a homey feeling of being part of a larger family. The atmosphere was a bit intense. Because the restaurant was packed, it was hard to maintain a conversation. All in all, the food was delicious and I personally would prefer getting the food to go rather than dealing with the downfall of waiting. Take this verdict with a grain of salt as I went into this culinary experience on the busiest day of the week — a Friday. 



Among the menu of over 60 items, knowing what to choose can be a challenge. I highly recommend the yellow curry since it’s mild on the spicy scale and paired with a large bowl of rice to soak it up. The dish comes with a choice of chicken, pork, beef or tofu for those who are vegetarians like me. As a matter of fact, the entire menu has a gracious assortment of vegetarian dishes like their beloved pad thai. 


4/5 stars

Sawadee Utah Thai Restaurant is located at 754 E South Temple St, Salt Lake City, UT

Order via dine-in or takeout

For their menu, visit their website.


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