Thai restaurants are usually a gamble when you’re vegan. One of the very important ingredients in Thai cooking? Fish sauce. Not so friendly for us vegans! But, I love Thai food, and there are some restaurants out there that cater to those of use who love our fishy friends to stay in the water, not on our plates.
Swaddee House of Thai in Thornwood is one of these places.
I go there frequently for lunch (and once in a while order dinner as well), and I’m never disappointed. Of course 99.84% of the time I order the same thing, but I’ve been there enough to try a few dishes- I just happen to have a favorite!
Pad Thai Pak & Tofu Tod, served with salad. My favorite!
So how do I know there’s no fish sauce?
I asked. I have to be honest, I don’t like having to ask questions- I like to be able to lurk on the internet to find my answers, but sometimes, you just have to speak up. As it turns out, everything that is listed under the “Vegetarian” menu does not contain fish or eggs (though egg can be added to dishes, such as the Pad Thai Pak). Nothing at all on the menu contains any dairy, as they don’t use it in the restaurant.
Some people might argue that things like Pad Thai without fish sauce are just not authentic. I won’t argue that, but for some of us, that’s not important. I think we’re all left to answer for ourselves if we mind the lack of authenticity. For me, it’s not so important. There are other ways to create that salty/umami flavor, and being vegan often means being creative to get that. And I love to be creative and I love me some Pad Thai!
Aside from authenticity, one of my omni friends has ordered the Pad Thai Pak as well, and found it a little too sweet- but I absolutely love it. Swaddee has also been very good about accommodating my picky requests, like when I don’t feel like picking out mushrooms. The Tofu Tod on the side is simply fried tofu with a sweet plum sauce- sometimes the sauce comes on top,and sometimes on the side- if it’s on the side, make sure you use the sauce. I have another coworker who thought the dish was quite “bland” when she ate it plain, not realizing the sauce is an essential part of the dish. Everyone I know who has had the salad is in love with the rich, peanut dressing that comes with the salad served with all the lunch specials!
It’s a great place to go for lunch or dinner, and the staff couldn’t be nicer. Omnivores will not lack for choices if they don’t want to stick to the vegan dishes. There’s also a buffet several days at lunch, if you’re with people who like to try different things (I believe there are occasional vegan dishes on the buffet, but many of them are definitely not). Swaddee is worth a try for hungry vegans!
I Eat Plants columnist Jodie Deignan went vegetarian in 2004 and fully committed to veganism in 2007. By day she’s a psychiatric nurse practitioner and by night she spends a lot of time cooking delicious vegan food for herself and her friends. She’s a bit of a picky eater, with a special distaste for mushrooms, seaweed, raw tomatoes, and eggplant, though she’s discovered along the way she’s a little more open-minded than she once thought. She blogs at The Picky Vegan. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.