Evening dinner restaurant review
Overall: Enjoyable neighborhood eatery
Food: Authentically spicy
Service: A touch slow
We have been infrequent diners at Pawitt’s Royal Thai ever since it opened. I recall reading one of the first reviews of Pawitt’s in the City Weekly. Pawitt, the restaurant’s namesake, owner, and chef was, if I recall correctly partner in another Salt Lake City Thai restaurant. This new restaurant would see him striking out on his own in the Holladay area. Being quite close to us, we were thrilled with the prospect of a good Thai restaurant within easy reach of home.
As we sat and waited for our menus on this particular evening, I reminisced with Wendi. The restaurant was fairly full and buzzing. I commented that it was nice to see the business doing well. It was only have been a few minutes later that one of the waitresses brought the room to a hush. By some strange coincidence she explained that evening they would be celebrating 2 years of being in business. How time flies I thought, it seems only a few months back that we first visited. As part of the celebrations, the waitress informed us Pawitt had arranged for a traditional Thai dance.
For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the dance (Wendi’s note – I can’t remember the Thai name, but translated it was half human/half bird). A smiling elaborately dressed lady took to the floor, happily indulging us as we all took pictures:
While we watched the complimentary dance, I took in the restaurant more fully than I had in the past. Pawitt’s is housed in a former Chinese restaurant, and touches of that still remain. Spacious booths line the walls, the wall paper has a dated print, a sure-tell tale sign of past occupants. The centre of the room is dominated by a large fish tank, which in turn is surrounded by tables for larger parties. The room is liberally littered with Thai decor. Adorning the walls and tables are statues, ornaments, paintings, photographs and even an LCD screen showing images from Thailand. Overall the restaurant exudes a comfortable feel, it couldn’t hurt to re-upholster the booths mind you.
Service this evening was on the slow side. Our experience has been that it has never been super-speedy, but always friendly and with a smile. When our waitress finally took our orders, we started by each ordering a glass of Tempranillo ($5.50). The wait continued. Luckily, we had the dance to watch.
As we had not been in for a while, we decided to refresh our memories and started by sharing the Mixed Appetizer Plate ($14.95):
This included Chicken Satay, Thai Fish Cakes, Deep Fried Tofu, Prawn Dumplings and Curry Puffs. The appetizers came with the standard selection of Thai condiments, ranging from peanut sauce to a strong soy-cilantro-green onion mix. The satay were pleasing enough, as were the fish cakes and tofu.
My personal favourites were the curry puffs. In all but name they were effectively lighter Indian Samosas. These deliciously light pastries contained gently curry-seasoned mashed potato. I found them to be far preferable to the typically more heavy Indian samosa. Another unlikely addition was the prawn dumplings (though I am not sure if that is how they were named on the menu). The dumpling filling consisted of minced and seasoned prawn with glass noodles encapsulated in a pastry shell then deep fried. It struck me as a very Chinese-style item, and we both enjoyed them.
For our entrees Wendi opted for a “drunken” Shrimp and Vegetable stir fry ($13.95):
The dish was ordered medium, which at Pawitts means “real hot”. A Thai salad we once ordered “hot” left us both in tears. Do be warned if spice isn’t your thing. As you can tell from the picture, portion sizes are also generous.
I only had a brief taste of Wendi’s dish as I happily devoured my choice. Wendi assures me it was very good; a mix of vegetables stir-fried with the typical bold and fragrant Thai ingredients.
I went for one of “Pawitt’s specials”, Shrimp and Pineapple in Red Curry ($14.95):
Again this was a medium heat, and again required copious reaches for the water glass. I am sure if you are a Thai food fan like us though, that’s just the way you like it. As for the dish, the sweetness of the pineapple was a perfect offset to the rich, spicy, red curry sauce. The (shell on) prawns however were a little overwhelmed by the heat and strength of flavours. I would suggest a more robust meat perhaps. Both dishes came to the table with a family style serving of steamed jasmine rice.
Service continued to be a little off the pace. I would have liked a second glass of wine, but no one ever checked back on us. This has been a problem I have encountered on separate visits in the past. The service is really my only grumble with Pawitt’s Royal Thai. Whilst the service is most definitely friendly, they certainly need a little more work on organisation. The food is authentic and tasty and the atmosphere is welcoming and relaxing.
I am not aware of a website for Pawitt’s, it is located at 1968 Murray Holladay Road, Salt Lake City, UT 84117
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies.