Monday, September 19, 2011

Thai Flavor in Madison - Sa-Bai Thong Thai Cuisine

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Mieng Sabai
A lettuce wrap appetizer different from what you would normally see: served with shrimp, chicken, vermicelli noodle, fresh ginger, peanut, onion, lime, wrapped with green leaf lettuce with special house sauce on the side; this lettuce wrap gives a variety of flavor and texture.  You get a nice clean flavor from the vermicelli noodles that cradle the zesty bitter flavor from the lime and the sweetness from the house sauce.  The raw ginger and peanut adds a kick and a bite, and a crunchy texture to contrast the other ingredients.  A simple dish with pure ingredients, how refreshing is that?

Spring Roll
Spring roll, egg roll, summer roll; what are all these Asian rolls?  A spring roll is more common in the Southeast Asian region where veggies, pork and/or shrimp are wrapped delicately in rice paper (not fried).  At SaBai Thong, this dish is called the "summer roll."  The spring roll shown here is more commonly known as the Southeast Asian Egg Roll and is filled with veggies, pork, and noodles.  The one here is served as a crispy roll filled with ground pork and shrimp, mung bean noodle, cabbage, carrot with house sauce and ground peanut.  The SaBai Thong Egg Roll is seen below.  Be aware that spring rolls and egg rolls are used interchangeably no matter where you go.  SaBai Thong’s Egg Roll consists of ground Chicken and mixed vegetables wrapped with egg roll skin, served golden brown with house sauce.   

Egg Roll

Chicken Pad Thai
A sweet and spicy dish you can get at SaBai Thong is their popular Pad Thai served with small rice noodles stir fried with bean sprouts, green onion, shredded cabbage, egg, yellow tofu, and chicken, topped with cilantro and crushed peanut.  This dish packs a thick flavor of sweetness, which is complemented with the zesty cilantro, and a fresh squeeze of lime juice.  I normally order 3 stars (4 stars for spicy level, 1 being mild) since I don't think their spice level is accurate but please don't leave out any fire from this dish.  It just gives it so much more character and flavor, the extra umph that the dish could use.

Pad Goo Kasat
Speaking of sweet and spicy; for the seafood lovers there's the Pad Goo Kasat, which contains scallop, shrimp, calamari with broccoli, pea pod, baby corn, mushroom, bamboo shoot, cauliflower, and chili paste sauce.  Sounds spicy, but the chili paste is pretty mild compared to the sweetness you get from the sauce.  Again the spiciness can be controlled by the number of "spicy stars" you request.

Crispy Duck
Crispy Duck, a flavorful plump duck served extra crispy with pea pod, mushroom, green onion, baby corn, carrot, pineapple, and Sriracha chili sauce.  The duck was actually somewhat tender, not as tough or dry as I thought it would be, and with the crispy outside and the sriracha chili sauce, each bite had quite a bit of flavor.  Although, if you eat the duck on its own, there's not much flavor there, you'll get the lean, slight gaminess any duck would give.  Also if you are a person sensitive to the bread soaked in water, you may have a texture difficulty here as the crispy outer layer has sogginess in areas where it was sitting in the sauce.
2840 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705-3644
(608) 238-3100 ‎

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