Monday, July 14, 2014

Restaurant Reveiw: Suwanasak

Hidden Thai Gem
Corner of a ethnic strip mall
There are a few great Thai and Laotian restaurants in Madison. Most of them aren't anything special. cooking Thai food outside of Thailand is difficult. There are ingredients that are all but impossible to source fresh, there are complicated and time consuming techniques. Also, whitey can be really lame when it comes to spicy food. (I can say that because I am ethnically half whitey)

I have some background in Thai food, I spent 5 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where there is a large concentration of Thai immigrants and some of the best Thai food in the US. I worked as a chef with a fabulous Thai chef in Berkeley. Also I have spent nearly 3 months in Thailand over the last 6 years. I have eaten street meals with Thai construction workers and in beautiful restaurants. I have been led and stumbled blindly into some of the best meals of my life in Thailand. I have also lost entire cameras full of pictures of amazing food in Thailand...

Now that I have established at least a little "street cred" (growing up in Shorewood Hills, this is the first "street cred" I've ever had). I need you to trust me when I say Suwanasak is the best Thai food I've eaten in Madison.

Now, let me order for you: 

Most people want to start with some fried egg rolls, fresh spring rolls or crab rangoon. Save these fillers for when you're eating American-Chinese food, not to say theirs aren't amazingly tasty. If you have to get an appetizer try the fresh spring rolls or the stuffed chicken wings. These are at least less common then most of the other "asian" apps.
Chicken wings deboned and stuffed with noodles and pork! ZOMG!
Skip the Pad Thai and replace it with Pad See Ew, These are stir fried wide rice noodles. They come with Chinese Broccoli, meat, and eggs in a smoky, dark and stormy sauce. Less sweet then a traditional Pad Thai but stunningly complex and delicious with just a few ingredients.
fried wide rice noodle 
You absolutely must try their Red Curry. It's spicy and filled with seasonally sourced vegetables, in the winter and fall pumpkin and squash make a delicious appearance to sweeten it up. Always heavy in bamboo shoots and curry flavor this should be eaten with copious amounts of white rice to cool the burn.
Spicy red curry with pork
Chili fried fish is another one of my favorites. It's a whole mullet fish which has been deep fried and comes with an amazing sweet chili sauce (it can also be served with a Curry sauce). But my favorite is the Chili sauce. It's so far beyond the standard sweet and sour chili sauce which accompanies most appetizers. It's full of spicy chili oil as well as strong sour and deep umami notes. I've used the extra sauce and marinated chicken in it for one of the best Thai chicken pizza's I've ever made.
Mullet Fish's Chili Adventure!
Not pictured here but highly suggested are

- Masaman curry, is a sweet strongly seasoned curry with peanuts which is not traditionally prepared spicy. 
- Green Papaya Salad - Never order a salad in Thailand if you are looking for something to cool off with. "Salads" are usually some of the spiciest and delicious parts of a good Thai meal. I LOVE green papaya salad, think of it as a spicy Thai cole slaw. 

Now on to the bad...ish. There isn't much room to sit down. There are 4 tables which will seat maybe 12 people. I would suggest picking up your food and enjoying it at home. This isn't too bad for me because I live like 3 blocks from this place and my food is always burn part of your tongue hot but I could see it being a problem if you lived further. On the plus side if you do decide to eat in house, there is never a wait for the limited seating. 

Hello fellow customers!
They have screwed up my order... a few times. I've gotten green curry instead of red a few times, I've gotten an unordered box of Pad Thai in my order... a dish has been swapped for another. However, everything is made so well here that... well I don't mind! I had an incredibly tasty green curry instead of a red one, I had delicious extra food, or tried some new dish that I had never tried before. Generally for me these "screw ups" have been awesome.

I have brought so many friends in to explore this place, and I hope that everyone who reads this will go! Just not when I'm trying to order ;).


811 S Gammon Rd Madison, WI 53711‎
(608) 270-4440
M-Sat 11am - 9pm
Closed Sundays.

Star Star Star(3 stars) The food itself is worth 4 stars, but the interior drops it down to 3.

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