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Nov 19, 2010 11:15 AM

Babani's & Sawatdee, Downtown St Paul

While visiting St Paul we had dinner in two downtown ethnic restaurants near our hotel, one good, one a bit poor. Thumbs up for Babani's, the Kurdish restaurant on St Peter St near W 10th. Food was tasty, interesting, and reasonably priced, not gourmet but very good home cooking. Decor was very nice as well, and service pleasant.

Thumbs down for Sawatdee, the Thai restaurant on Robert St & E 9th. Though a nice enough place with pleasant servant, Sawatdee offered very mediocre phad thai full of bean sprouts (ugh) and a curry of only average tastiness. The restaurant was not particularly inexpensive for food of this sort, either. We did like the Thai iced tea, though.

St. Paul, MN, St Paul, MN

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  1. thanks for the report. your opinion of both places is pretty much, i think, in line with the general msp board consensus of both places. hope you visit us again and we can steer you toward some good chow! :)

    1. Love Babani's. I go for the soup/salad combo for lunch often. The lemon chicken soup is really the best soup in MSP. And it comes with the most amazing bread. It is crispy and has a weird consistency, but in a good way.

      St. Paul, MN, St Paul, MN

      1 Reply
      1. re: churchka

        God, that soup is so good. Love to get a bowl of soup and a small Tanyata.

      2. Sawatdee is a disgrace. I wish I could say that they were the only place playing games with the bean sprouts. What a cynical way to cut corners.

        1. Thanks for your feedback, everyone. I too had and loved the soup in Babani's.

          Re Thai: I do find it can often be below par in un-Chowhound-recommended restaurants, big city and small, but we were really tired & Sawatdee was pretty near our hotel, so I never checked online as I probably should have. BTW, I meant to say "service," not "servant," in my post. Sorry my typo made me sound like some sort of 19C aristocrat, which I'm not!!! I cannot figure out how to edit the post.

          St. Paul, MN, St Paul, MN

          2 Replies
          1. re: Wanda

            haha! whereas my servant at falafel king was. . . *sniff* merely adequate. . . (ponderous old english laird voice).

            thai is not msp's strongest cuisine, but there are some decent independent places. sawatdee is unfortunately one of the last places i'd send a chowhound to-- it's a small family owned local chain of restaurants, and they're all modeled after the family's 1st restaurant, which was also one of the area's first thai restaurarants back in the 1970's or 1960's or whatever. and it's erm, quite possible the food's a bit dumbed down and would have other issues you'd expect. i don't want to trash it too much, as i haven't been to a sawatdee in years, it's possible they are trying to update the food, or that there are some locations that are better than other ones. anyhow, bad luck on that one, but an easy mistake to make, esp when tired and hungry!

            1. re: soupkitten

              Yep, Raum Mit a couple of blocks in the other direction would have been a better choice.

          2. Truly sorry that you had to go through an experience at Sawatdee... To call their food abysmal is actually doing a favor. Hopefully you will have much better luck on your next visit!