Sai Kung has just one Michelin “Bib Gourmand” restaurant. It’s May’s Sawadee on Man Nin Street. UST Professor John Barford had pointed this out, so we went along to see if Michelin has got it right with John and his girlfriend, Emon Suisiya.
Michelin defines a “Bib Gourmand” restaurant as one that offers excellent value for money, ie it has a full menu with pricing at less than $300 a head.
John ordered tom yum goong soup, water spinach, papaya salad, pork larb and green curry chicken. All traditional basic Thai tucker. And very good it was too. You couldn’t ask for fresher vegetables, lettuce looking like it was picked that morning. The minced pork was really tasty with chopped basil and shallots. The papaya salad was too spicy for this reviewer, but John had ordered it that way. The tom yum goong soup lovely, just right.
John murmured appreciation throughout the lunch. Emon’s the quiet type. She didn’t say much, didn’t eat much, graciously serving her companions. We all went away happy. The meal had cost $475 for three.
You can get set lunches at May’s Sawadee for $44, students for $38. After a bad experience in another Sai Kung restaurant, reviewed — blasted — in last month’s BUZZ, it was notable how clean May’s is. Glassware, cutlery, plates were pristine.
The decor at May’s is modest, unaffected. Portraits of the royal family and their ancestors, Thai dancing girls. This is an unpretentious place focused on the basics, good ingredients make good food.
Yes, Michelin got it right.
Note: Sai Kung has two restaurants given one star by Michelin: Sing Kee Sea Food and Loaf On. We reviewed Sing Kee in an earlier article.
We selected four dishes from the main menu (averaging $65-$78) and one (green curry) from their lunch menu ($42).
Lime Soda ($32) – excellent and very refreshing with fresh lime, salt and no added sugar or lime cordial
Bottled Beer ($36) – a little pricey for a lunch time drink
Two dishes were Northern Thai dishes (Pork Larb and Som Tam Pla Ra) to match my companion’s home. Very , very good
Lovely combination of minced pork, onions, shallots, chilli with the roasted ground rice. Plenty of fresh lettuce to wrap it local (Sang Choy Bow) style.
SOM NAM BLA RA
Freshly grated green papaya with fermented fish sauce . This had lovely salty, spicy and sour, non-sweet flavour and delightful texture. We requested the som tam with additional small black crabs (Issan Style) but these were not available. Very good
PAD PAK BOONG
Fresh and non-stringy. A sign of a good dish. Again a very good balance of flavours and textures.
TOM YUM GOONG
The small serve of this soup was delicious in its flavour balance but only included one prawn butterfried with the head and shell remaining. The flesh was tough and adhered to the shell indicating that it was frozen and /or overcooked. Normally, in this dish prawns would be fresh, shelled, de-veined and only cooked in the soup broth for a short time near the end of the cooking. The other ingredients (e.g. mushrooms) were nicely cooked. Whole tomatoes would have looked more eye pleasing, if cut into smaller pieces.
GREEN CHICKEN CURRY
Broth a little “watery” – could have been improved with more coconut cream or less diluted coconut milk.
Vegetables had a chewy texture from being frozen/de-thawed . Chicken pieces of different sizes made it hard to ensure all pieces were evenly cooked – some were dry and overcooked. The commonly used pea eggplants were absent. These add a characteristic taste to this curry. The addition of whole small tomatoes is unusual.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Good. Selecting all items from the lunch menu would have been $280 or so
Very extensive menu – some odd items (e.g mutton and spaghetti). Mutton and goat are rarely eaten by Thais of non-Muslim origin. Spaghetti is only seen Thai Fusion. Some items designed to appeal to “locals”.
Not gourmet but largely authentic and very clean and balanced tastes of traditional Thai food. Very good.
Michelin Rated: If it is for value for money or for very good food, it rates on both criteria.