Thanh Do (South MSP) - A Little Gem
Jfood had plenty to do at the hotel so he needed a take out near Edina-Bloomington. Someone in the office recommended Thanh Do off Minnetonka Ave. so he decided to give it a shop. This place is a little gem. Located in a small strip mall on South Utah, if you blink you will miss it, yet all of the spots were taken out front, at 630 there was a line waiting for take-out and the tables were 40% full. And this was on a Tuesday night. They’re doing something right.
Jfood ordered a sampler to go, (a) some fried pork potstickers, (b) the Cranberry Curry white meat Chicken, fresh mushrooms, onions, scallions, Thai curry, coconut milk and cranberries and (c) Vietnamese Basil Chicken with pineapple, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and fresh basil.
The potstickers were very good, fried on all sides with a little bite and the ginger sauce was sweet, vinegary and had a little red pepper flakes for some heat. OK, Jfood was thinking this place had potential.
The Vietnamese Chicken had pieces of chicken with a variety of red and green peppers, quartered button mushrooms chunks of pineapple and sautéed basil. The basil and pineapple was an interesting combination and the peppers were crispy and flavorful. This dish was good, and would bring Jfood back to try others, but maybe not this dish.
But the winner of the night was the one dish Jfood almost did not order except for the recommendation of the hostess, the Cranberry Curry. Never would Jfood have thought that this combination would explode with various flavors in his mouth. This combination was fantastic. Jfood has a bit of a bellyache because he could not stop eating this dish. So for this dish alone Jfood definitely has this place on the return list.
BTW – The servers are all 18-20 years old, right on top of things, know the food and could not be friendlier. And the best part, instead of a “Tip Jar” they labeled it a “Good Karma Jar.” Great idea.
So if you are in the area or want to drive to the south side for some really good food, Jfood recommends giving this place a shot.
Based on this thread, Hub and I (and Baby) went there over the weekend. Good service (prompt refills of water, THANK YOU!), pleasant atmosphere. Crowded. We waited ~20 min to be seated (we entered at 5:30 PM). Hub had chicken with asparagus, I had Mongolian beef. I wanted to try the cranberry curry, but it was listed as very spicy... I am teaching Baby to eat table food - which means eating bits off of my plate - so thus cannot eat spicy right now, too bad for me. :(
My dinner was really mediocre. Emphatically mediocre, if such a thing is possible. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything to get excited about. The veggies had passed through the crisp-tender stage to moderately soft, the meat was tender but bland, the sauce was brown but not particularly flavored (not garlicky or gingery or anything... just "brown flavor"). The accompanying rice was not very warm - as if it had been scooped from a rice cooker 15 minutes before serving and left to cool. Hub liked his dish and ate the whole thing (part that night, part the next day for lunch). I'm not sure that I would go back.
Lest you think I am a total grouch, we ate lunch earlier that day at Keefer Court, and I really liked the meal I had there. I had the "chicken and vegetable" on panfried noodles. "Vegetable" turned out to be baby bok choi. It was glazed in a simple clear ("white") sauce, the noodles were crispy on the edges and toasted but not burned. Service was a little slow (the staff alternates between waiting tables and serving a gazillion bakery customers), but the food was worth it. Everything was served as it was cooked - so while I had to wait about 10 minutes for my meal (while Hub ate his), mine was steaming hot when it came out of the kitchen. I'd definitely eat there again.
Keefer Court Bakery & Cafe
326 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454
I've had the cranberry curry at Gangchen, and it is definitely worth a repeat visit to one of the restaurants in the family.
For the record, in my experience, every Minnesota restaurant labels curries as "spicy", simply by virtue of the fact that some Minnesotans find curry itself to be spicy. Generally, you should be able to order curry dishes without heat.
Of course, cranberry curry might be a bit too fusion for baby.
After reading all the interesting submissions, we had to investigate Thanh Do. First impression was not good.
1. Including the wait staff, my family was the only Asians in the restaurant.
2. The menu had (HORRORS) fusion entrees - a mix of Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese dishes.
3. To make things worse, the restaurant was clean and the service friendly.
This did not portend a memorable culinary experience.
Actually the food was excellent. The pad thai with basil exploded with flavor. Yes it was spicy, but the flavor overwhelmed the heat, no vice versa. The spicy squid was not spicy, but wonderfully tender and flavorful. The cranberry curry provided mostly novelty value. It was interesting, but not surprising in any way. The only complaint was that the rice was so dry.
There aren't too many good restaurants in the western suburbs, so Thanh Do is a real find. I've been there two more times in the last two weeks. Same experience, still good.
Inspired by jfood's decriptions, and bob_s's reminder of its proximity to my favorite beer shop, the wife and I made the long trek from Lake Elmo to St Louis Park yesterday and gave Thanh Do a try. While I'm not sure I would make the 40-minute haul just for the food, the food and beer combo was a clincher.
We tried the cranberry curry. I liked it quite a lot. The menu listed this as a very spicy dish. It was very mild to my taste but the flavors were excellent. The wife took a bite and passed. She's a pretty traditional asian and the new flavors didn't do it for her.
We also tried the hot and spicy squid, which was fairly spicy but also was extremely salty, which of course pleased the wife and put me off my lunch. I would have loved the dish if not for the salt. The flavors were great and the squid was soft and lovely. Not a chewy/rubbery piece on the plate. So between the two of us, we each had a dish we liked. Lovely couple, we are.
We also tried the Thai hot and sour soup. It isn't Thai, but that's not a criticism. Just a statement. The soup it self was quite delicious and unusual. Smooth and citrus-y, generously loaded with chicken breast meat, bean sprouts, cilantro, and a few other bits and pieces that made a great soup. We both liked it a lot. It would have been great as a spicy dish, too, but the version we tried was mild by design and didn't suffer for it.
The cream cheese puffs were greasy and forgettable, but the sweet and gingery dipping sauce was very nice.
Thanks to jfood for the tip and to bob_s for the reminder of its location. Went and got a couple bottles of Human Blockhead and a bottle of Japanese beer made from red rice.
Glad you found it, jfood. I've been to Thanh Do a few times and have enjoyed it. I'll have to try the cranberry curry.
Thanh Do is owned by the family of Thom Phan, who's a fairly well known local restauranteur (Azia, Temple, etc.).
For those unfamiliar with the area, though, Thanh Do is actually in Saint Louis Park, not in South Minneapolis.
Also, for Jfood and others, the Four Firkins, which is one of the best (if not the best) places for beer in the Cities, is right around the corner in the same strip mall.
3005 Utah Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55426
The Four Firkins
8009 Minnetonka Blvd, Minneapolis, MN