Sawadee Thai Cuisine: Premium Thai SELECT-certified Bugis restaurant makes sauces, dips & entire meals in-house daily

One of the best things about my job is the thrill of anticipation that accompanies every tasting. One of my least favourite is being promised one thing and finding that the reality just does not live up to the hype. It seems that there is a solution when it comes to Thai cuisine: the Thai SELECT award.

sawadee - thai select certificate
Credit – Sawadee Thai Cuisine

Thai SELECT is a Royal Thai Government initiative to identify and certify restaurants that create authentic Thai cuisine. Their rigorous accreditation process recognises “authentic Thai food with a taste of premium quality, refined decoration and excellent service.” Among the factors considered are the sourcing of ingredients, food preparation techniques and dish presentation.

sawadee - interiors and exterior
Credit – Sawadee Thai Cuisine

Restaurants outside Thailand may be conferred 3 Thai SELECT awards in order of prestige: SELECT Signature, SELECT Classic and SELECT Casual. I was fortunate enough to be invited to Sawadee Thai Cuisine, a proud recipient of the SELECT Signature award.

Chope Reservations

What I tried at Sawadee Thai Cuisine

Whatever would follow, Sawadee Thai Cuisine completely blew me away with their first appetiser, Miang Kham. For the uninitiated, this is a betel leaf wrap of assorted condiments and dip.

sawadee - salad

It is presented with a bowl of Thai betel leaves and a platter of individual bowls of condiments. These condiments are roasted peanuts, roasted coconut strips, red and green chilli (hot!), tiny lime cubes (zingy!), chopped ginger and onion. There is also dried shrimp, which can be substituted upon request with fried mushroom for vegetarians.

At the centre of the platter was a bowl of the most amazing sauce. I could tell it has a shrimp paste sauce base not unlike the traditional satay sauce but the staff was very tight-lipped about the other ingredients. Hey, if I came up with something as delicious, I would probably be just as reticent!

This is probably the longest I have spent describing an appetiser but the miang kham was just that good. We all had fun trying different combinations, making it a uniquely interactive start to the meal. Unsurprisingly, the special sauce ran out before the betel leaves did— I was just heaping it on every time I made myself a wrap.

sawadee - rice crackers and dip

Not to be outdone, the second appetiser of Thai Rice Cracker came with a tantalising pork dip. There was no question that I enjoyed the unique concept and hands-on preparation of the betel leaf wrap more but I was surprised at how close the rice crackers came to dethroning it.

Again, the heart of my enjoyment of this appetiser was the dip, which is made from scratch in-house. I would recommend you get both these appetisers because they are light enough to not intrude on your mains while fulfilling their ‘appetiser’ roles perfectly.

sawadee - angus beef soup

We jumped into the heart of our Thai meal with Tom Saap, which is a hot and sour broth infused with fragrant aromatics and herbs such as makrut lime leaves, galangal and fresh lemongrass. While this dish is usually prepared with Thai pork ribs and shrimp broth, Sawadee Thai Cuisine substitutes pork ribs with Angus beef.

sawadee - close up of soup

The meat was very tender and their use of rice powder and meat broth made this exceptional dish even more special. Fair warning, though— this dish is lethally spicy!

sawadee - pork slices

I also found that the meat of the Kurobuta Pork Collar cooked very well. Served in generous proportions (there were no less than 15 finger-sized chunks served on banana leaf), this dish is a tour de force of pork preparation. We were both impressed and awed by the consistency of the pork, as well as the wonderful seasoning that gave each morsel a crisp, even taste.

Sawadee Thai Cuisine tends to emphasise the homemade elements of every dish and here, it was the jaew sauce. As you can see from the photo, just the sheer frantic visual movement the sauce exudes from its speckled surface sings sweet serenades to your taste buds. It follows through with the promise, too, as pepper, lime, chilli, coriander and a host of other electrifying ingredients do the boogie in your mouth. Scintillating!

sawadee - duck curry

We trained our sights on the Roast Duck Red Curry next. I was confused at first— did they serve the duck with fishballs? A prod and a nibble later and I was the butt of everyone’s laughter when it turned out to be pitted lychee. Also imparting their sweet essence into the bowl of goodness were small bits of pineapple.

This dish is another example of Sawadee Thai Cuisine taking things just that step further. Here, the red curry paste is homemade, a subtle touch that introduces a host of layers to the taste. A worthy mention is the inclusion of sweet basil leaf, which gives it a herbal, liquorice-like taste. The sweetness from the lychees and the tanginess from the pineapples balances the red curry.

I must mention, just because I am usually so averse to duck, that I encountered none of the gaminess and chewiness that dissuade me from ordering it at other restaurants. I was honestly surprised I liked it so much.

sawadee - close up of olive fried rice

It just isn’t a Thai lunch without at least some rice and it came in the form of Olive Fried Rice, which is stir fried olive rice with strips of chicken, dried shrimp, lime and chilli. Olives have a dense earthiness to them which, when absorbed evenly by rice, creates a filling dish rich with umami.

Accompanied by a lovely mound of well-marinated and perfectly-cooked chicken, tangy cubes of lime, sweet onions and chilli that made my tongue pulse, this was Thailand on a plate. Already excellent on its own, it was an even more brilliant companion to the duck curry.

sawadee - mango dessert

Mao Shan Wang durian is heavenly. It is even more so when it becomes the centrepiece of an enticing dessert. The MSW Durian Sticky Rice at Sawadee Thai Cuisine came with a generous helping of the creamy yellow wonder with a crest of roasted mung beans. It sat atop an intriguing hue of blue glutinous rice drizzled with coconut milk and kissed with a dash of palm sugar.

Without a doubt, this is a durian-lover’s dessert. The restaurant maintains close personal relationships with durian suppliers and receives a handpicked crop to ensure the sweetest base tinged by the most intense bitter highlights.

That quality was immediately evident from the first bite to the last. What a wonderful ending to a truly magical lunch!

Final thoughts

Walking out of Sawadee Thai Cuisine, my mind was preoccupied by the myriad thoughts that come to me right after I finish a tasting. Foremost was their emphasis on homemade alternatives prepared from scratch for every sauce and dip. You will be able to tell the difference, I guarantee it.

sawadee - table full of dishes

Diners are treated to a premium Thai dining experience with no doubts as to the authenticity of the fare nor the quality of the ingredients. After just my first dining experience, I can confidently say that Sawadee Thai Cuisine is a well-deserving recipient of the Thai SELECT Signature certification. 

For the latest menu and dish prices, check out their website.

* This article was brought to you in partnership with Thai SELECT.

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Price: $ $

Our Rating: 4.5 / 5

Sawadee Thai Cuisine

9 Tan Quee Lan Street, TQL Suites, #01-01, Singapore 188098

Our Rating 4.5/5

Sawadee Thai Cuisine

9 Tan Quee Lan Street, TQL Suites, #01-01, Singapore 188098

Telephone: +65 6238 6833
Operating Hours: 11am - 2.30pm & 6pm - 10pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 6238 6833

Operating Hours: 11am - 2.30pm & 6pm - 10pm (Daily)
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