Austin is growing up, at least in the ethnic food arena. Here's my "secret" list of ethnic food restaurants in Austin. Austin's attitudes and expectations have changed drastically over the last decade, with more and more people being opened to unfamiliar and non-mainstream food and flavors. It might just be my perception or that I don't hang around adventerous eaters anymore.
You might have remembered
Chef Rene Ortiz and Chef Laura Sawicki from La Condesa. They've been
working on this little project called Sway,
and now I'm happy to say that the project has come to fruition. Sway is
not home cooking Thai, rather it is modern
Australian Thai cuisine. I've had many deep discussions about Sway
since their preview dinner(s) ranging from the meaning of "Sway" to the
direction they are going. My response was that "Sway" if you say it while
bobbing your head up and down means water in Mandarin.
My takeaway from the preview dinner was that Sway leaves little to be
desired. I am always surprised and amazed by Chef Laura (send her love
letters please, or at least on my behalf), and Chef Rene can execute like ninja.
I loved that many of my dishes had a component of comfort (something I consider
to be a compliment about many of the ethnic food eateries), creative flare, and
a capsicum induced endorphin rush.
Rumor has it that some diners had complained about the spice level, and thus,
the spice would be coming down a level. This is much to my disappointment
and horror. I have not been back since the preview dinner, so I'm not sure
how this mild the food has become. Also, if the food is too spicy, order a
beer - pils or IPA. Or bring some ice cream with you.
Here's some of the dishes we tried that night. Neon lotus chicken salad
with crispy lotus root, snow peas, banana blossom, and coconut-chili dressing.
Can you say yum?
This is the XO mussels with crawfish XO, bacon, garlic, ginger, lemongrass,
Thai chili, and sweet onion served with aromatic rice. This dish was
incredibly spicy and incredibly delicious!
So delicious, it gets another look. This is the way you're supposed to
eat Asian sauces....along with the rice. This one was pretty spicy, and
perfect with rice!
This dish was the salt and pepper tofu on Thai chili.
This is one of my favorite vegetables. My mother planted it when I was
growing up, and it was on the dinner table close to nightly. I love this
The son in law was amazing - crispy farm egg, braised pork shoulder, thick
soy and chili vinegar was one of my favorite savory dishes. Asian dishes
commonly use whole eggs, on many things. The rich gelatinous yolk, crunchy
garlic, and unami laden pork is perfect with the sticky rice. This upscale
rice bowl will smack your tastebuds with glee.
It was very difficult to decide which dessert I liked best. I really
loved the jasmine tea panna cotta with red grape, lychee, palm sugar, holy
basil, crunchy amaranth, and coconut-lychee sorbet. I mean I loved it.
All the tropical fruit flavors reminded me of a Summer on my uncle's porch
grabbing fruit off of trees.
This dessert electrified my neurons. Oh man, I. Love. This. Dessert.
This was miso-white chocolate semifreddo, sesame, crispy rice, coconut sticky
rice, mango-calamansi sorbet. Try it. If you don't like it.
I'll finish it for you. Unami miso + slightly sweet fruit + dark and early
sesame = taste bud lust.
The lovely Chef Laura came out to greet us. I was told by a man that he
had a culinary boner for her and was afraid to talk to her. I told him
that he could still order her desserts en masse. I had a great time at the
preview dinner, and I'm so glad to report that the concept and the execution of
this menu was top notch. You'll see me back soon, probably licking the