5800 Burnet Rd.
Austin, TX 78756
REVIEW – West Gate Location
I always wait for a new restaurant to settle down a bit before I head out for a tasting. So after about a month we had our first meal at Sap’s 2nd location. The first thing you notice about this place is that it’s got a warm, inviting vibe. And that’s because of Sap. You won’t find a nicer or more gracious gentleman in the Austin restaurant scene. His attention to detail on the walls and even the ceiling is also noticeable. And his affable attitude permeates his establishment.
The prior occupants of this spot located at the west end of a strip mall did not fare well. But I see no such problem for Sap. The Sap Rolls were beautifully crunchy and had great flavor. Next was the Tod Mun Pla Grai, an irresistible cake made out of minced fish, magrood leaf, chopped green beans, and of course, the requisite Thai spices. They were as always, delicious.
Next we tried the lovely Thai equivalent of Jewish penicillin, the beauitful SN-S6 Chicken Soup. The tender chicken and the dense mushrooms are prepared in a rich and spicy (you were expecting bland?) chicken broth. Perfect when you have a cold or on any other day!
The Pad Ga Tiem Prik Thai (SP2) consisted of pork (our choice) stir-fried and served in garlic and black pepper with Sap’s special sauce. I was not prepared for the flavor rush this dish created on first bite. But I adapted very quickly as it was delicious! The fearful need not worry: this is not particularly spicy. Another dish that’s got more of a kick is the Keow Wan Curry. This is classic Thai green curry with bamboo shoots and basil. And you can now get all the curries, in fact any dish, with brown rice which I was delighted to learn (complex carbs and all that).
Another new try for us was the Thai Pepper Fried Rice. Take smaller bites of this one as its packing some heat, but the flavors are incomparable. We tried the Shrimp version and it was rhapsodic. The combination of Serrano Peppers, Thai Peppers, mushrooms, Thai Basil and a very special sauce made this my favorite new dish. Sap at his best. For milder palates, the Pineapple Fried Rice with peas and carrots is also an easy recommendation.
Also a bit on the nuclear side but well worth trying is Sap’s Special Masman Beef Curry. This is as much a stew as it is a curry with a whole cooked potato, onions, peanuts, bay leaves and tamarind. I defy you to walk away from this dish without finishing it. Well some may take a bit to go, but you will finish it. We’re talking amazing flavors.
Of course there are lots of old favorites still on the menu from the Westgate Store. I love the Tiger Cry and The Amazing Green Beans along with the Napa Cabbage Soup. But that’s for the next visit. And there will be one and many, many more.