My favourite cuisine, undeniably, is Thai food – I love the creamy yet deep heat of a curry, the delicate flavours of a pad Thai and the punch of Thai sweet basil and bird’s eye chilli.
I’ve made it my personal mission to try out all of the Thai offerings in the Granite City and one restaurant that had lingered on my list a while was Sabai on Union Street.
My boyfriend and I made a date of it and headed to Sabai on a Saturday night.
We were greeted very warmly by the waiters on arrival and there was a delicate hubbub of other diners enjoying their meals.
The decor of the restaurant is eye-catching, to say the least. Two walls of the dining area are flanked with weirdly mesmerising water features, making it a tad hard to concentrate on conversation with your dining partner.
The effect was much like that of a lava lamp – hypnotising but perhaps a touch too retro for a stylish restaurant.
Nevertheless, one eye on the water features and one on the menu – we ordered. For starters, I decided on Sesame Gai (£6.95) to start, and my boyfriend chose the Po Pia Tord (£5.95).
To drink, my boyfriend decided to stick with authentic flavours and chose a bottle of Singha while I went a little off piste with a Margarita cocktail.
My cocktail was absolutely delicious – tangy with citrus and strong with tequila – and I made short work of the whole glass.
On the menu my dish was described as “marinated chicken with roasted sesame seeds in a sweet and sour dark sauce”, but on arrival my chicken didn’t appear marinated, but instead looked coated in a panko and sesame seed breadcrumb. The sauce was indeed dark but mainly sweet without the tang of teriyaki I had expected.
Nevertheless, the starter was pleasant – just not what I had expected.
My boyfriend’s spring rolls, “stuffed with mixed vegetables and glass noodles with a Thai sweet chilli sauce” – of which I managed to snaffle a bite or two – had a nice golden colour and crunch without being greasy.
Both starters came with beautifully decorated vegetables which were a nice touch on the presentation front.
For our main meals, we ordered slight variations on a Thai classic – I chose the Gaeng Dang (£11.95) while he decided on the Panang Gai (£11.95), both with sides of traditional sticky rice, Khao Niew (£3.95).
Both essentially red curries, my dish was described as a “famous Bangkok red curry with aubergines, bamboo shoots, chilli and basil leaves cooked in coconut milk” while the Panang was described as a “rich and creamy red curry with coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves”.
My dish was a touch spicier than my boyfriend’s, but his had the tang of the kaffir lime leaves and so, though similar in description, the curries were distinct in the exact flavours that I love Thai cuisine for – creamy yet spicy with a depth of sweet basil leaves.
The portions of chicken were generous, the meat moist and the vegetables plentiful – it was a perfect curry and I ended up spooning up every last drop.
The rice was, as described, sticky and quite glutinous but a nice change to normal basmati and jasmine rice.
We were left stuffed and certain that next time, we would skip the starters and hold out for the main event.
We finished off with traditional Irish coffees (£5.50).
What we had
- Sesame Gai, marinated chicken with roasted sesame seeds in a sweet and sour dark sauce, with Thai vegetarian spring rolls with mixed vegetables and glass noodles.
- Gaeng Dang, red curry with aubergines, bamboo shoots, chilli and basil leaves.
- Chicken Panang, red curry with coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves.
How much it cost
What we thought
Main course was the delight of the evening, with delicious and fresh-tasting curry. Starters were a bit average, but excellent service and cocktails more than made up for it.