Austin: Sway

Sway Austin is a fantastic modern Thai restaurant in one of the trendiest food hubs of Austin:  South Congress.  And no, this isn’t your parent’s Thai restaurant where the menu consists of pad thai and fried rice with some weakly flavored glass noodles.  This is contemporary Thai where it’s assumed that you know a thing or two about Thai food.  With this expectation, guests do not decide the spice levels of their dishes.  You get it hot, or not at all.  Servers are well informed about each dish and the heat levels and can recommend something that is merely hot and not scorching, but you should seriously try everything here.


Sway has a gorgeous restaurant space with beautiful hardwood communal tables.  There is silverware for everyone, but chopsticks are available for those who want the most authentic experience.  There is ample outdoor space where their full menu is served.  They’ve built a cinder block wall around the outdoor area to provide a nice secluded area since the restaurant is right on South Congress.


For an appetizer, I sampled the Shu Mai.  Traditionally, this is a Chinese dumpling, but you can see from the picture above that it’s been reinterpreted.  This dish was delectable, slightly spicy and perfectly porky.  It was served with a lightly sweetened vinegar that complemented the dish perfectly.


Som Tam is one of my favorite salads ever!  This iteration of som tam was even more delicious than others that I have tried.  Som Tam is made with green papaya drenched in a pleasant, spicy, sweet vinaigrette.  It’s topped with little dried shrimp that supply a fishy crunch to the salad.  This dish is a must-try.

 Now, for Tiger Cry.  This dish consists of hangar steak, thai basil, and two different types of chilies.  After eating this, I’ve decided the name is literal.  This dish is intended to make the scariest beast weep for its mother.  If you inspect the photo above, you can see a glob of dark red paste.  This sauce is made with pure, roasted Thai chilies.  As the dish sits, the spicy lighter chili sauce surrounding the steak and small salad continues to absorb the intensely spicy chili paste.  This dish is painfully spicy, but so amazingly complex and because I’m from Texas and I’m pretty tough, I didn’t cry (on the outside).


This dish simply called Peanut Curry consists of chicken leg confit, red chilies, green peppercorn, baby corn and of course, peanuts.  The chicken confit was beyond tender and was easily eaten with chopsticks.  This dish isn’t as spicy as Tiger Cry, but the heat does build as you eat and your sinuses will be clear by the time you finish.  Wisely,  rice is served with all dishes to help alleviate the spice.


Finally, we get to the most beautiful plated dessert in Austin!  This plate of perfection is Miso-White Chocolate Semifreddo with Mango-Calamansi Sorbet, Coconut Sticky Rice, Rice Powder and Black Sesame Sauce.  This dessert was so spectacularly balanced, light and sweet and the perfect way to end a highly spiced and fiery meal.  When you visit Austin, make sure you stop by and get a quick cleanse from all the barbecue you’ve eaten.

Sway Austin (1417 South 1st Street Austin, Texas 78704 // 512.326.1999)

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