Most Harris Teeters are expected to carry the basics of traditional grocery stores.
As anticipated, customers are welcome to choose from fresh produce, canned foods, dairy products or items from the deli, typical for a popular market of its size.
Yet, tucked away in the back corner of the Harris Teeter on Cloverdale Avenue is Thai Sawatdee, a traditional restaurant that lures shoppers in with its aromas of fresh curry, chilies, ginger and coconut.
Although it is rated Winston-Salem’s number one Thai restaurant on Yelp, to imagine it as a restaurant undermines the very root of its character. A small stand in the corner of the grocery store, Thai Sawatdee houses a few hot stoves and basic cooking equipment kept busy by family members making and selling the traditional dishes. A few tables and chairs fill the space around the food stand, but most customers choose takeout.
For those unfamiliar with Thai food, the menu offers basics that feature the spices and recipes traditional to the cuisine, such as spring rolls, dumplings and stir-fry.
However, the most popular item on the menu is the Pad Thai. This customary Thai dish combines fresh rice noodles, egg, scallions and ground peanuts with palm sugar and tamarind sauce to create a spicy, textured dish. Customers are able to decide their choice of vegetable, meat or seafood to mix in for an extra charge. Although true Thai dishes are revered for their tongue-burning spices, diners are able to choose just how spicy they prefer meal.
Other than basic noodle and stir-fry options, Thai Sawatdee also offers traditional curry dishes. These are typically spicier and more difficult to eat, but are a staple to the cuisine. The most popular of the six curry dishes offered is the green curry, which is made with green curry paste, coconut milk, eggplant, bell pepper, bamboo shots, green peas and fresh basil. Although a bright shade of green, this dish features satisfactory amounts of richness, creaminess and spice. Other popular curry dishes are the Panang and the Massaman.
Beyond the traditional, delectable food, the prices are more than reasonable. Full dinner dishes range from six to 15 dollars. Lunch specials, served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., offer two spring rolls, a choice of soup or salad and a complete meal for $6.65. The most popular items on the lunch menu — specifically the Pad Thai, the curry dishes and stir-fry — are only a few on the list of 31 options included in the special.
Although it may not offer the pristine atmosphere of a luxury restaurant, Thai Sawatdee is voted — and upholds its title — as the best Thai restaurant in Winston-Salem. Its location in the local grocery store reflects its dedication and unyielding focus on mixing traditional flavors together to serve unique dishes to passing customers.
Customers running menial errands at the local Harris Teeter should consider following the alluring aroma pulling them towards the back corner of the store and eat some of the best Thai food around.