Sometimes I wish that Jonathan Gold covered the Bay Area, or better yet, I wish that I knew someone locally who has spent a large of their life eating Thai cuisine. The thing is, I have a strong hunch that Sa Wad Dee is the best Thai restaurant in the East Bay, but I’d appreciate an informed second opinion. Actually, it’s not so much that I need a second opinion — I know what I like, and I know what’s good — but if there’s a better Thai restaurant in the East Bay, I’d sure like to eat there. I’ve tried finding these places on my own — I’ve been to dozens of Thai restaurants in Berkeley and its surrounding boroughs, and I’ll admit that the competition can be tough, and sometimes even indistinguishable (many spring rolls, after all, are created equal).
But I guess that when it comes to making distinctions between the many Thai spots in the East bay, I tend to form my food judgments based upon emotion: A pleasant surprise, for instance, can go an awfully long way for me. And so I confess that I’m writing this review in the afterglow of Sa Wad Dee’s Angel Wings, pictured above. If this dish was French, it might be called a ballantine (or ballotine, or gallantine): A deboned cut of chicken — in this case, the demure wing — stuffed with a flavorful filling, and cooked. Sa Wad Dee’s Angel Wings gain points for being stuffed with ground pork and being deep-fried to panko-crusted perfection. Sweet chili sauce takes them over the top.