John and Walailak Conrad are determined to showcase the authentic flavors of Thailand at their new Plainview restaurant, Sawasdee Thai Elevated, which just opened in the Plainview Shopping Center near Brasserie Cassis and Ayhan’s Fish Kebab.
That means pad Thai sweetened with palm sugar and soured with tamaraind, green papaya salad ignited with bird-eye chillies, curries garnishished with homegrown kaffir lime leaves — plus some ingredients they don’t have in Thailand: Niman Ranch pork and Aquebogue’s Crescent Farm ducks.
John Conrad moved to Thailand in 2001 to open the local office of an international shipping company. Over the next five years he fell in love with the country, the culture, the cuisine, and his future wife. Walailak moved back to Long Island with him in 2007.
His lifelong dream of opening a restaurant now morphed into a dream of opening a Thai restaurant. He enrolled in the eight-month culinary management program at Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education and started collecting a team that includes chef Chartrie Dangpotichar, a Thai native who has worked in Hawaii, San Diego and at Siam Lotus in Bay Shore, and Marco Corral, a former manager at Porto Vivo in Huntington.
Sawasdee (pronounced sah-wah-dee; the second “s” is silent) takes over what used to be China View. The place has been completely transformed into a sleek, modern restaurant with a spacious lounge and a dramatic dining room featuring two mural-sized photographs, one of a red Thai temple, the other of one of the country’s distinctive “floating markets,” where groceries are purchased from boats on the river.
The menu features dishes from all over Thailand. Most starters are less than $15, most curries and noodle dishes are less than $20, and most meat and fish mains are less than $30. There are Thai sodas and homemade Thai iced tea, as well as Georgio’s coffee and SerendipiTea tea.
Sawasdee Thai Elevated is at 395 South Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview, 516-261-9346, sawasdeeny.com