Back when Sway Modern Thai was still a curry-scented rumor, my friend Erica said to me, "I think we should make it our mission to becomes experts on Sway." I took those words to heart, and visited the restaurant seven times during the first two months they were open. I've cooled my jets a bit since then, but remain enthusiastic for Sway. If I were crazy enough to try to create a top ten list of my favorite Austin restaurants right now, I feel quite certain that Sway would make the list.
I picked Sway as a dark horse for the South Austin - Date Night category, mainly because the best seats in the house are at the counter facing into the kitchen, and counter seating works best for parties of two. Having a show unfolding before you that can distract you if conversation lags, but that doesn't demand your attention, is the perfect recipe for date night in my book.
Fair warning: most of the rest of Sway's seating consists of awful nine-top tables that make conversation with anyone but your immediate neighbors practically impossible.
Whoever chose these tables was an introvert.
They do have a lovely patio with more sanely-shaped community tables, though...
Of course, no date night would be complete without some amazing plates to share. I suggest starting with their fantastic oysters on the half shell. Good god, these are fantastic. Fresh and light with the perfect, breezy mignonette. I could eat these all day.
My other favorite dishes at Sway are very flavor-forward. If you shy away from intense dishes, this may not be the place for you. For example, the Jungle Curry - Texas wagyu beef with baby corn, eggplant, peppercorns, and a wonderful, dark curry sauce, the heat from which is expertly balanced by a large dollop of soothing coconut cream.
I think I wanna know ya / Jungle love
Another dish in the "hot beef" category is the delicious Tiger Cry. Hanger steak is char-grilled medium rare and covered with red chili nahm jim, Thai basil, Fresno chile, toasted rice, and a generous scoop of Sway's super-addictive, house-made nahm prik pao.
That's the nahm prik pao lurking over there to the left.
Don't think Sway is just a meat-fest, though; they have a number of vegetarian options, too. One of my favorites is their fantastic salt and pepper tofu. Crispy, perfectly salty, and served in a lovely bath of chile sauce.
Salt & Pepper Tofu
If you want a showstopper to ooh and ahh, over, how about the whole crispy fish? This presentation could not be more impressive.
It will leap into your mouth!
Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the son-in-law, a crowd favorite (and one of mine, too). Braised pork shoulder; a farm egg cooked crispy on the outside, but still runny on the inside; thick soy, and nahm prik pla, served over a bed of rice.
The only Son-in-Law I'll ever have.
I hope you left room for dessert. The sweet endings here are special. Two of my favorites are the Thai tea affogato and the jasmine tea panna cotta:
Thai tea affogato - condensed milk ice cream (condensed milk ice cream!!!) served with macadamia cookies and a little pitcher of Thai tea to pour over the top. Basically a solid (and very delicious) version of Thai iced tea.
Jasmine tea panna cotta topped with coconut-lychee sorbet and garnished with red grapes, lychee, palm sugar, Thai basil, shiso, and crunchy amaranth.
If you're looking for a date night that's more foodie than fuddy duddy, more sassy than sedate, head on over to Sway for an evening of flavor-forward fun that you're sure to enjoy.
1417 South First Street
Austin, TX 78704
Open for lunch and dinner, Sun-Wed 11a-10p, Thu-Sat 11a-11p
No reservations except for parties of 10 or more