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MSP Thai Restaurants?

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Do any of you fellow chowhounds have a favorite Thai restaurant you frequent? Is it a hole-in-the-wall type place or super chic? I've been to Mango Thai in St. Paul lots of times and find their food pretty delicious (although they could be a bit more generous with the meat included in the dishes). Now, I'm ready to branch out. Let your Thai restaurant choice be known! Throw in some dish recommendations if you like, too :)

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  1. There are a lot of threads talking about this subject. However, my vote goes to Bangkok Thai Deli in St Paul. I love the place! My favorite dish is stir fried beef with basil. I also like their papaya salad (Thai style), chicken fried rice, stuffed chicken wings, etc, etc.....

    1. Ditto on the Bangkok Thai recommendation - ambience leaves something to be desired in terms of "fine" dining but their food is awesome. The restaurant reminds me of homey basic places in Bangkok but keep in mind it's probably not a date worthy restaurant.. However, if you're a foodie and are willing to overlook the ambience factor, this is probably the best find I've had on restaurants in the last 6 months.

      1. My favorites are as follows

        Lemongrass Thai - In Brooklyn Park. Not only do they nail the basics, but they have a sausage appetizer that is to die for.

        Bahn Thai Cuisine - In New Hope. My former favorite. What I appreciate about their food is that they hit the sour notes just right. If you are a fan of Tom-Kha-Gai, this is your place.

        Chai's Thai - If you like Mango, it stands to reason you'll like it's sister restaurant. Chai's is famously BYOB to boot.

        Ruam Mit - I haven't been there since the re-opening, so take my recommendation with a grain of salt.

        As for Bangkok Thai, I should note that I had a bad experience there and that they are (or were recently) having issues with their space. I'm waiting before giving them another shot. The critics are inexplicably gaga over True Thai, which I have found to be bland.

        1. I just found True Thai on Franklin Ave SE in Mpls. Outstanding food. The Pad Thai Cafe on Grand Ave in SP is ok too, havent been in a while since i discovered True Thai.

          6 Replies
          1. re: vinman

            I am allergic to msg and have been bummed to find that the majority of Thai places in the twin cities use it. I have been following a Thai food thread on a competing board and people spoke highly of Naviya's Thai, which is now closed. I found Naviya's cell phone on their facebook page and called her- she said she is looking for a new space, and doesn't use msg, is allergic herself. She grinds a lot of her own spices, her food sounds great although I never made it to her place on Lyndale and 64th. She is in discussions with Midtown Global Market....waiting for a call back....my question to hounds here is, would you go to Midtown for some great healthy Thai food? I sure would, I think they could use her. Opinions?

            1. re: faith

              I was at Naviya's a few times....both Lyndale and Penn. I thought it was pretty good...a little on the expensive side, but good. I would definitly visit them in a Midtown location.

              I agree with Keven47 on True Thai. Their pad thai is solid, but everything else is pretty bland. I don't understand why the critics love it. I've had microwave reheated chicken a few too many times there. There are too many other great Thai places in the Twin Cites.

              My favorites are Lemongrass That in Brooklyn Park, and Gangchen on 18th and Nicollet. Although Gangchen isn't really Thai...more of a variety of Asian dishes.

              I've also been to happy hour at Amazing Thailand a few times lately and thought it was a great value for drinks and apps...they were reasonably priced and delicious. Looking forward to going back for dinner or the lunch buffet to see how everything else is.

              1. re: faith

                Thanks for the heads up on MSG and Thai food, faith! I knew a lot of Chinese places (perhaps more the American-Chinese restaurants than the authenic ones) had MSG in their food, but I didn't know that so many Thai restaurants did. In regards to your question, I would totally make the trek to Midtown for excellent Thai food. I hope she ends up finding a spot there!

                1. re: faith

                  Ruam Mit Thai in St. Paul states on their menu that you can ask for your food without the MSG.

                  1. re: ShinyCake

                    thanks ShinyCake.............most places that use msg usually will say that, but I have learned that if they are used to using msg, food without it won't be that great, or more likely, it will still have enough msg to be noticeable because it's in their sauces already, products they buy already prepared.....and I know that's an issue with many places unless they are making a lot from scratch. So, that's why I am extra impressed with Naviya and other people(SIngapore, Saffron) who grind their
                    own spices , and like to support them.

                    1. re: faith

                      Thanks for explaining that, faith. Makes sense.

              2. Don't go to Chiang Mai Thai in Calhoun Square! I got some takeout from Chiang Mai a couple of years ago and haven't recovered, psychologically, yet. Thanks for the thread frogger8. I'm looking forward to trying some of these recommendations and getting over my fear of sitting down to a plate of Thai that tastes the way a dog smells...(what is that? rancid oil?)

                2 Replies
                1. re: Gr8Marlys

                  I think getting takeout once, from a place a couple years ago, should hardly put it in the never ever frequent category.

                  Chiang Mai Thai is great for drinks and appetizers. I also quite like Pad Sri Racha/Chili Sauce Stir Fry, which is really quite tasty, especially after a couple cocktails and some spicy cashews.

                  And, they do make some fine jalapeno cream cheese wontons.

                  Authentic, no. But then I can't believe takeout could psychologically scar anyone.

                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    You're right, MplsM ary, I'm employing a bit of hyperbole when I say I was psychologically scarred by my meal at Chiang Mai Thai. That being said, I'd had probably four meals in the good-to-gradually-mediocre range at Chiang Mai before the bad takeout experience. Yes, they have some decent cocktails. Yes, I'm sure many good and average and downright bad meals have been served there since I last went...and still, my takeout meal experience was terrible. So bad I'm going to skip going there until and unless I hear numerous reports of delicious meals being served there.

                2. I'll mirror others:

                  Bangkok Thai Deli is one of the only restaurants that I will drive to St Paul for...their versions of fish cakes, som tum, tom yum and pad ki mao are the best in town. However, make sure your expectations are calibrated for this place...their idea of service or the way meals progress are not western.

                  Most of the time we eat at Chai's and Sen Yai Sen Lek, both of which are very capable.

                  I also would decent regarding True Thai...some kind of weird Contonese/Thai hybrid, not good.

                  1. Looks like Bangkok Thai Deli is the place to be! I can easily forego restaurant ambience as long as the food delivers. Thank you everyone for all your help! I can't wait to get started on this list.

                    A lot of your responses go against the popular Thai restaurants listed by other sites and/or magazines. Like many of you have mentioned, I too am wondering how these places (Chiang Mai Tai, True Thai, King and I Thai...) get such high rankings.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: frogger8

                      I think those other places you list get high marks (by some of our own chowhounds, too) because, a) for a long time, they were the only game in town and people cling to their favs sometimes even as the scene evolves... and b) different people have different tastes. Sometimes I think restaurants get evaluated by people just based on whether or not they personally find them delicious and whether the restaurant generally uses high-quality, fresh ingredients and good cooking techniques, even if the restaurant isn't the most "authentic" or compares unfavorable similar restaurants in that cuisine in other cities.

                      To each his own, I say, in search of deliciousness. But, BTD is my fav for Thai. :)

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: frogger8

                        Just a little heads up on BTD before you go on the ambience. The MSP hounds recommend the place and jfood did go once. It is a bunch of picnic tables in the back corner of a grocery store with shops to one side. It is not a restaurant per se with less than Per Se ambience but is a section of another store.

                        Not commenting on the food but ambience has a floor to acceptable level as well and jfood is just trying to manage your expectations so there is no head snap back when you see the location.

                        Enjoy.

                        1. re: jfood

                          Don't forget about the awesome Thai karaoke (but with the vocals somehow) blaring from the 13" television sitting precariously atop one of the deli cases. Ties the place together. Perhaps Tom Keller should consider adding this to Per Se.

                          Also, bring a jacket...as noted, the joint is drafty.

                          1. re: Foureyes137

                            After that ambience drive over to Pak Zam Zam...:-))

                            1. re: jfood

                              King & I is the only place I have ever gotten Pad Thai that I truly liked, that was not all sugared up! Huge portion. Beautiful space. I don't think they routinely use msg there. One time I told them I was allergic to sulfites which are in most canned coconut milk and they offered to keep some co-op coconut milk on hand if I brought it to them, for when I ate there! And yes we do all have different tastes when it comes to food as well as environment, so that will always color this board....let's try to be respectful ...........

                              1. re: jfood

                                jfood seems to have zeroed in on my "type" when making suggestions.

                            2. re: jfood

                              jfood, I heard a pscyhologist explain why we remember greasy spoon restaurants with good food more than we remember fancy restaurants with good food. It's the surprise element. We expect good food in a fancy place and are not surprised by it. The surprise of good food in a hole-in-the-wall setting leads us to remember the food more than we would otherwise. If that psychologist is correct, then their utter lack of anything that could remotely be described as "ambience" is a big advantage for Bangkok Thai Deli.

                              I like Bangkok Thai. A lot. Perhaps the best I've tried in the Twin Cities.

                              I also like Sen Yak Sen Lai (best Thai within 1 mile of my office?).

                              I tolerate Pad Thai on Grand and the Taste of Thailand on Selby used to be good, but the last couple of times I went, it wasn't so good, so when close is more important than great, I go with Pad Thai on Grand. I wouldn't cross the river for True Thai on Franklin. It's marginally better than Sawatdee.

                              I'll have to get out to Brooklyn Park to try Lemongrass. And go east on Selby to try Mango Thai.

                          2. Has anyone else tried Joy's Pattaya Thai in Richfield? I loved it. Presentation was so pretty for what I would consider to be a hole in the wall.We had angel wings to start. I can't say I was impressed with the flavor, but for sheer astonishment at how much stuffing they could fit into a mere chicken wing, it was impressive. I should have ordered my curry a little hotter because they seem to serve it Minnesota hot without specification, but it was still delicious. The vegetables in the curry were even fancy! I had the most tender sticky rice I've ever had. My friend's shrimps with asparagus was gorgeous and fresh tasting. She ordered the pumpkin custard (I was too stuffed). It came in a quarter of a pumpkin (a little one) and the custard had been baked in the shell, with an airy coconut sauce. The custard was a little stiff for my tastes, but overall it was a unique (to my mind) presentation and texture combination. There was also a pumpkin curry as a special on the menu and while I don't know how it tasted, it was brought to another table in a carved pumpkin.

                            It's located at 7545 Lyndale Avenue South Richfield, MN 55423-4011 - (612) 866-0660

                            And I guess, yeah, I didn't eat alone.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: eatsalone

                              I think Joy's is solid, though it doesn't make me forget about Ketsana's.

                              Inspired by this thread, the wife and I headed to Lemongrass, and I can add the crazy duck salad to the list of must-haves. A nice, balanced take on laab with a bit more earthiness. Duck is the perfect meat for that recipe.

                            2. Roat Osha in uptown (corner of 27th & Hennepin in the old Sawatdee building) has become one of my regular spots. I believe it is owned by the same people who run Tum Rup Thai and supposedly the menus are very similar. The food is pretty good, but not great. I wouldn't call it authentic Thai, but they do have a nice selection of seafood dishes including the very good walleye in green curry sauce as well as all the staples (Pad Thai, Tom Yum, etc.).

                              They also have a REAL solid happy hour. $3 and $4 apps including spicy calamari and chicken sautee, and all tap beers are $3 (Surlys, Sapporo, Newcastle, etc.) which also goes on late night. Setting is pretty nice and service is generally acceptable-to-very good. My only complaint is that the food isn't hot. At all. Granted I have a very non-Minnesotan heat tolerance, but I always get everything 5/5 on their spice scale and I never, ever come close to even breaking a sweat.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: magz0r

                                I'm glad you like Roat Osha. I, for one, have found the food there to be less reliable than that of its sister, Tum Rup. I don't understand why the owners decided to open yet another Minnesota-friendly Thai restaurant near the other 3 or 4 similar restaurants (including their own) within 5 or 6 blocks of the place. Does it have a better bar? Better specials?

                                Please don't take this as any sort of a comment about you, magz0r. It's just that I've always been curious about the place - particularly in light of the $$ that was put into the place on the remodel/reconstruction of the building.

                                1. re: bob s

                                  No worries, I have always wondered the same thing actually. I don't know if you remember what Sawatdee used to look like in the building before it sold, but the new owners pumped some pretty serious money into the restaurant. Wood mill work everywhere, nice plasma TVs behind the bar, comfortable booths...in a restaurant that DIRECTLY competes with its sibling a 1/2 mile away? On paper it doesn't add up. Maybe they thought, "If one is good, two is better?"

                                  Roat Osha does offer two things that Tum Rup doesn't: connected off-street parking, and a hidden gem of an outdoor patio. Besides that the two spots are very similar...for me it boils down to proximity (Roat is short walking distance, Tum Rup is longer) and service (Roat's staff treats me well).

                              2. I cannot state an absolute favorite Thai place in the TC, as I did visit Thailand on a study abroad, and it is harder to stack up when you don't have the freshest ingredients at your fingertips.

                                However, my husband and I have adored True Thai since before my trip, and I can even appreciate it more after my trip. They make authentic Thai recipes, and on their menu offer the best selection of recipes from Thailand (hence True Thai?). I will not go on saying I am a Thai expert, and possibly some native Thais who might be prowling the board can chip in. This fall we decided to make it a weekly venture and did so up until the holidays. We also decided we could not repeat any entree during that time, no matter how much we loved it, to try and taste through their extensive menu. This is a great idea to get out of your 'Pad Thai' comfort zone and experience delicious curries and stir fries that make up a larger portion of the Thai cuisine. Some of the menu highlights that stood out for us include the Yellow Curry with Crab. This was hands down my favorite dish that I ever had in Thailand, picked out my own crab off the beach and watched it cooked in a wok right in front of me. At True Thai, it was the exact same sauce, with the only difference being the crab had not been walking around earlier that morning. But- the dish was ~$13 and they were very generous with the amount of crab claws on the plate. The curry is not spicy, but rather very savory with celery and bell pepper notes, and is just wonderful. Other dishes we lied included the tofu soup with pork- a clear broth based soup with little pork filled wontons and fresh scallions. The cup size is really a bowl, and enough for a meal. The Pad See Yew are delicious wide noodles with a yummy brown sauce and lots of baby bok choy. One dish I did not like as much was the Golden Pineapple fried rice. It is cool b/c is comes in a scooped out half of a pineapple, but is fairly bland.

                                I agree that people have different tastes and expectations for Thai, but True Thai is still one of the best in the Metro