Monday, February 24, 2014

AFBA CityGuide 2014 - Walk This Sway


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.

Sway Austin

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.

Sway Austin
Whoever chose these tables was an introvert.

They do have a lovely patio with more sanely-shaped community tables, though...
Sway Austin

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.

Sway Austin
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.

Sway Austin
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.

Sway Austin
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.

Sway Austin
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.

Sway Austin
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.

Sway Austin
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:

Sway Austin
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.

Sway Austin
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
512-326-1999
Open for lunch and dinner, Sun-Wed 11a-10p, Thu-Sat 11a-11p
No reservations except for parties of 10 or more
WiFi: Yes

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