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Thai One On

Sawadee trades in summery charm and sweet -- but engaging -- Thai cuisine

And what to say of fried tofu with grilled pineapple from the special "extra" menu? That its dipping sauce was one-dimensionally sweet; that the sight of a grilled circle of canned pineapple on the plate was a grave disappointment. Why not use fresh, with its vastly more interesting taste and texture, both here and in the restaurant's red curries? Sure, it's more trouble, but this kitchen is gifted enough to take itself more seriously.

Still, Sawadee is only five months old. Its glitches are easily correctable. And its appeal is undeniable: its dining room the perfect, pastel refuge from summer's heat; its proprietress, Kye Heckler, an ebullient hostess who'll offer to produce an off-the-menu green curry on demand, or slip a young customer a gratis bowl of delicate coconut ice cream. She and her husband, Yut, both of them from restaurateuring families, hauled away truckloads of debris to transform this former lamp shop into a place that fits -- and amusingly transcends -- its West U environment.

The good burghers of the neighborhood have adopted Sawadee, but Kye Heckler -- a confessed "party person" -- laments that her staid clientele goes home early, leaving her hungry for an infusion of wilder blood. With yum voon sen and yum neua this convincing, perhaps she'll get it.

Sawadee Thai Restaurant, 6719 Weslayan, 666-7872.

yum voon sen, $8.95;
tom kha gai, $6.95;
chicken curry, $7.95;
chicken with kaffir lime and green beans, $8.95.

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