Sabai Thai and Vietnamese Restaurant is located in the historic quarter of Waterford city, close to the Waterford visitor centre and across from the theatre. Funnily enough we have been having good fortune with ethnic restaurants outside the capital recently, and Sabai is no exception.
The restaurant is housed in a fabulous, listed Georgian building that’s has been sympathetically restored, retaining many of the original features. The room is quite sumptuous, with grand, red drapes, wide-plank flooring and some very nice contemporary lighting. The front of the restaurant looks out over The Mall while to the rear the room opens through French doors into a courtyard, which in nice weather gives and al fresco dining option.
The menu is extensive to say the least, but the staff are very knowledgeable and will definitely advise if asked. There is an early bird menu available Tuesday – Saturday from 5.30-7pm and Sunday from 5-9pm at a very reasonable €21. The A la Carte starters offer dishes from €6.50 for Thung Tong (crispy rice pastry stuffed with minced chicken) or a Kao Poad Thod (crispy sweetcorn fritters) to €9.95 for a mixed starter; a tasting plate of all their starters which is a great way of getting a real sense of the dishes.
The main courses are separately listed as noodles, curries, stir fry, fish and the chef’s specials. They range in price from €16.50 for the noodle or stir fry dishes, up to €24.50 for some of the fish dishes and chef’s specials. Here we were tempted with Pla Nung Buay, (steamed sea bass with pickled plum, ginger, mushroom and spring onion) crispy duck with five spice, soy sauce and pickled ginger or Pop Hat Phong Ka-Ri, which are crab claws with yellow curry spices and spring onion. All mains are served with steamed rice, however there are sides of egg fried rice, stir fried rice noodles and stir fried vegetables and all curries, stir fry and noodle mains have the option of beef, prawns, chicken, pork, lamb or vegetarian.
The wine list offered a selection of reds and whites from around the world, starting at €19 for an Italian red Solandia Nero D’Avola or an Artisan Australian Semillon sauvignon blanc, up to €34 for the Chablis. There is a selection of wines by the glass for €5 and a selection of beers from the bar. One of the beers is the Thai Tiger beer, and it seemed churlish to pick anything else as it works really well with the spices and flavours of what was about to follow.
We started with pork & mango salad and the dim sum, a mix of dumplings stuffed with chicken and prawns. The flavours of coriander and mint in the dumplings mixed with their spicy dressing were delicious, without being too filling. The salad was spicy and fresh, and the barbequed pork contrasted really well with the mango salsa. This one was a house special, but all the salads come with the option of being either a starter or a main course, and this is one I would definitely have as a main on another visit.
For main course we decided to try smaller portions of a couple of dishes; the weeping tiger steak, crispy duck (Ped Nam ma Kham Khing Grob) and yellow curry with chicken.
Weeping Tiger is a chargrilled steak, sliced and served on a sizzling platter with a delicious dark soy sauce fused with coriander and garlic. The crispy duck came topped with tamarind sauce and served with crispy ginger and the sweet meat of the duck complemented the tamarind beautifully while the chicken curry was thick and the flavours of the components were evident throughout.
We finished up with the tropical sorbet, which was so refreshing and a frozen baileys cheese cake, which were both good. Two coffees finished us off nicely. Sabai is really very good, a pleasing room with great service and top notch food. Sabai is a greeting in Thai, and they certainly know how to make you feel welcome. Worth a visit.