NJ Dining: Pawana (UPDATED)


Pawana Restaurant
63 Nathaniel Pl., Englewood NJ 07631

Two years ago, not long after its grand opening, I visited Pawana restaurant in Englewood, and this is what I wrote about it at the time:

Pawana, a new Thai restaurant, has opened in what was the failed Thai Chef space in Englewood in the Shop Rite plaza.

Thai Chef in my opinion was an overrated and expensive restaurant which had poor service and served food I could have better at Wondee’s or Bangkok Garden in Hackensack, the two best known Thai restaurants in the area. They spent a fortune building the space and promoted the hell out the restaurant, but they were never able to get a decent following and the restaurant was frequently mostly empty. Their problems were also compounded by the fact that the restaurant group opened ANOTHER Thai restaurant in the same town almost simultaneously, Kratiem (which is still in business but has different owners now). Thus it failed, and many began to wonder if opening a high-end restaurant in that shopping center was such a hot idea in the first place.

While the new owner, a woman also named Pawana, is related to the Thai Chef company (she’s a cousin) the prices here are scaled back (comparable to Wondee’s or Saigon R in Englewood) the service was very good, and the food is excellent — in fact I’d say it will give both Wondee’s and Bangkok Garden a run for the money.

In the two years after it opened, I only visited the restaurant perhaps one other time. It’s not that the restaurant wasn’t good — as you can see above, at the time I thought it was very good — but at the end of the day I felt that the food at Wondee’s was more to my personal taste in terms of authenticity. Due to the demographic makeup of Englewood versus Hackensack, Pawana is attracting more Americans, whereas Wondee’s attracts more Asians.

Be it as it may, that was then and this is now. My tastes have changed and so have my dining habits. I recently returned to Pawana after a two year hiatus. I honestly have to say “What the hell took me so long?”. If you are willing to tell the server “I want it Thai spicy”, then Pawana will pull out the stops for you and give you a truly Thai experience.

By the way — while the restaurant doesn’t say so on its menu, they serve brown rice if requested. Score one big point for the low-carber crowd.

Main Dining Room — 2008

If you’ve been waiting to try Pawana, you can stop waiting. Run and eat there right away. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Main Dining Room — 2008

Yum Naem Sod with Ground Pork, ordered “Very Spicy”. This dish is similar to a Larb, but more gingery.

Tom Kha Gai soup, ordered ‘Very Spicy”. Compare with the 2006 photos towards the bottom.

Tom Yum soup, ordered “Very Spicy”

Charcoal Grilled Pork Skewers. We thought these were excellent, rivaling Wondee’s “Moo Ping” dish.

Jar of pure evil. Only use if you are a sado-masochist.

Bangkok Style Kha Ree Curry with Pumpkin (Kabocha) and Chicken. Hot, hot hot!

Coconut Ice Cream with Sticky Rice. An ideal dessert after blowing your brains out with chiles.

Thai Royal family with other royal guests

The restaurant’s Buddhist shrine.

Pre-2008 Photos:

Main Dining Room

This is a “Money Bags” fried appetizer, which is filled with crab, pork, corn, and a number of other things. They’re real good.

Money Bags Closeup

Thai Iced Tea

Curry Puffs, also excellent.

This is the Pawana salad, which we thought was a great bargain ($6) topped with crabmeat and had nice fresh fruit in it. Perfect for the summer.

Pad Kee Maow Noodles (although, it was actually called something else in English on the menu) which were a nice balance of spicy and savory in a chile/basil/soy sauce. Very Good.

This is an Issan Style Pork Larb, using chopped grilled pork (as opposed to ground) which was my favorite dish we ordered. By the way, it’s not on the current menu which is temporary, but its in the chef’s repertoire. They also have a Naem Sod on the menu as well. She can also do the larb with Beef and Chicken.

This is the dish turned around so you can see the nice plating.

Total Bill, $36. Nice change from Thai Chef. I don’t think this place will have a problem getting customers like its predecessor did.

I’m REALLY looking forward to trying some of their other dishes, such as their curries and soups.

BYOB, with Shop Rite Liquors only 50 feet away from the store.

7/19: We went back for lunch:

Karnom Jib Dumplings with Crab and Pork

Shrimp/Banana Appetizer with Peach Sauce

Tom Kha Gai Soup

What was pulled out of the Tom Kha Gai soup.. be careful!

Crab pancake, ordered by another table

Gang Keow Warn (Green Curry) with Beef

Pad Thai with the “works”

Duck Salad

Yellow Curry, ordered by another table as well

8 Responses to NJ Dining: Pawana (UPDATED)

  1. Just discovered your site while visiting WordPress home page.

    A fellow ‘New Jersey’ blogger

    Serge (the Concierge)

    Biz:
    http://www.njconcierges.com
    Blog:
    http://www.sergetheconcierge.com

  2. rockwatching says:

    Were you aware that I had been dieting? I am sitting here sipping on ice blocks and trying not to think about food and then I see this, it looks amazing. Will have to leave now, I must be strong!

  3. Tina Russo says:

    Ate at Pawana last night. The Thai food was wonderful. I highly recommend it. The Pad Thai was great. Can’t understand why it’s not crowded….guess the words not out yet. Way better than Bangkok Garden in Hackensack. Tell your friends!

  4. […] of the newer Thai restaurants in the Bergen County area like Kratiem, Thai Chef, Ridge Thai, or Pawana. But what it lacks in atmosphere and fussyness on the plate, it makes up for in value and flavor […]

  5. joe c says:

    theres a new place in cliffside park called TOM YUN KOONG. ate there last saturday and must say it was quite authentic. had a great papaya salad shaped in to a birds nest and a spicy chicken with basil dish , these people arent afraid to make it hot if you ask them. a place to look for joe c

  6. Eva says:

    Thai food is one of my most favorite cuisines and Pawana restaurant in Englewood, NJ offers the best dishes. I also cook Thai food my self and I own 7 Thai cookbooks. I have tried several Thai restaurants around the country but Pawana is at the top of my list. The other good thing about it is that I never have to hunt down a parking spot because of its location. Besides gook food and convenient parking it is so close to the play theater that diner at Pawana’s and a play, has become my traditional outing.

  7. rpl says:

    Brown rice for the low carber crowd? Not really true. Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice, but it is equivalent in carbohydrates, and mimimally higher in fat.

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