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Apr 20, 2012 06:47 AM

A more specific Thai question

I've read the threads on Thai restaurants in town, and while somewhat helpful, they're kind of all over the place.

At this point, I know where to go if I want authentic Thai with mediocre service and atmosphere - On's Thai Kitchen. I've been, and the food is very good (although I haven't had the Pad Thai, only the more unusual stuff), but the service is slow and the atmosphere is definitely lacking.

What I really want is a place with good Pad Thai and Massaman (yes, I know they're not particularly adventurous - you can scold me if you want), and decent service and atmosphere (as far as atmosphere goes, it'd be nice if there were no fake plants or Christmas lights, for example).

Places I've been include the following:

the aforementioned On's

Taste of Thailand on Selby (whose Pad Thai used to be really good, although I haven't been in a long time. Terrible service.)

True Thai (some dishes really good, others not great, wasn't impressed by the Pad Thai, mediocre service and atmosphere)

Pad Thai on Grand Avenue (decent service, nice atmosphere, food's gone downhill, Pad Thai watery and curries sub-par)

Chiang Mai Thai (liked the food, despite, perhaps, a lack of authenticity, good service, nice atmosphere, parking is a disaster).

So, does anyone have some suggestions for a place that's pleasant to eat at, not impossible to get to and park near, and has good food all around, but especially Massaman and Pad Thai? Preferably in Saint Paul, but it doesn't have to be.

We've thought about trying Supatra's or Ruam Mit Thai, but a lot of people seem to hate Supatra's. Thoughts on either one?

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  1. I've had massaman at Bangkok Thai Deli, pretty legit. Can't help on the pad thai front, however.

    6 Replies
    1. re: mitch cumstein

      Though Bangkok Thai Deli doesn't sound like the kind of atmosphere the OP is looking for. It's rather sterile, deli-like....

      I'd recommend Sen Yai Sen Lek-- mixed reviews on the food end of things, but I think it's the kind of atmosphere you're looking for.

      Another possibility would be Mango Thai on Selby (near Dale) in St. Paul. Very nice atmosphere. I've generally liked the food....

      1. re: mtullius

        I'd nix venturing all the way north to SYSL. Go to Krung Thep on Nicollet instead. It's the sister restaurant to BTD and they took over the Seafood Palace space. The decor stayed the same-sea oriented with fish art, pink and blue walls. The pad thai wasn't watery, salty, dark, or overly sweet but tangy with a hint of sweetness. Haven't ordered the curries so I can't say. Service was there. You won't be neglected.

        1. re: mtullius

          I like SYSL, but the OP was specifically asking about pad thai and it don't recall that even being on their menu.

          I like Roat Osha on Lyndale, Not terribly authentic but nice atmosphere, great service and good happy hours with full bar,

          1. re: Bobannon

            Sadly, I've always left Roat Osha extremely disappointed. The service has always been good and the atmosphere fine, but the food.... =/ This isn't at all a knock on their "authenticity" as I have never been to Thailand and have no clue what that should look like. However, for the handful of time I've been there (I'd guess probably 7ish times?) it has only taken a few bites for me to wish I had ordered something else.

            Can't pinpoint it exactly since I've tried something different every time, in hopes that maybe I was just ordering the wrong thing. Maybe I've just ordered 7 wrong things in a row...

            I keep going back because the location holds a lot of memories of going to that Sawatdee as a kid with my dad. Wasn't about the food, but sitting in that windowed front room together. <<Le siiiigh>> I'll give it one more go before moving on for good. :(

            1. re: Dr.TriRunner

              I am a bit late to the party, but I am at Roat at least once a week or so (I live really close and I LOVE their bar) and as a result I have eaten pretty much everything on their menu. Roat's food can be inconsistent. For example: last night their Pad Thai was the best that I've had there in a couple of years, yet a couple of months ago it was WAY too oily.

              One gripe is that Roat's food is never hot enough for me. On their scale of 1-5, I always ask for it at a 7 or a 10, and I still need to doctor up the dish with a spice kit. Unfortunately even the spice kits are lame, as the crushed red pepper is always bland and stale.

              Their real strength comes from dishes like the Walleye in Green Curry. That, and their killer happy hour, despite recently raising their prices a bit. If I want more authentic and consistent Thai, I head down to Krungthep Thai over on Eat Street.

            2. re: Bobannon

              Just an FYI for readers, Roat Osha is at 27th and Hennepin, not on Lyndale.

        2. Your quest describes nearly perfectly the conundrum of trying to find a Thai restaurant with a Western atmosphere. Most of the best Thai restaurants I've eaten in in this country, and frankly all of them I've eaten in in Thailand, are focused on the food first and the atmosphere a distant second. I suspect this is because of how most Thai people prefer it. I know this is true for my wife.

          My experience is that most tremendously modern and atmosphere laden restaurants in Bangkok are frequented either by much younger hipster types (not intended to be a derogatory term) or the truly wealthy. The VAST majority of everyday restaurants that most everyday Thai folks eat in are exceptionally pedestrian places with great food and resemble Bangkok Thai Deli for atmosphere.

          Good luck in your quest. I don't know of any restaurants in this market that meet your spec. The most atmosphere-focused places we have serve tremendously wretched food. The best food comes unadorned. You're probably going to have to make your choice by which end of the scale is most important to you each time you have to choose. How's that for noncommittal?

          I will avoid my usual 'distressed' rant about American fascination with Pad Thai as a benchmark for choosing the value of a Thai cook.



          4 Replies
          1. re: HuaGung

            I think you're probably right. Sometimes I just wish I could have both.

            I don't actually tend to use Pad Thai as a benchmark for a Thai place, but I've had a particular craving for it lately, and wanted a good version.

            1. re: gildeddawn

              For the record, I wish they existed too.

              1. re: HuaGung

                TUM RUP THAI Uptown. Great food, nice decor, I mean really comfortable and not tacky in the least. I have not eaten there recently...I get my fix in St Paul, but the times I have, I liked it a lot.

                1. re: shanemio

                  Tum Rup Thai may be the best bet in Uptown. The big 4 Thai places in Uptown (Tum Rup, it's sibling Roat Osha, Amazing Thailand, and Chiang Mai) all have nice atmosphere, and decent service. I like the food at Tum Rup and Amazing Thailand the best, but YMMV. Both have pretty good Pad Thai. I've not had Massamun curry at any of them though - sorry.

          2. I love Ruam Mit and especially love their pad Thai. I also love their fish curry. I can't say much about the other items because I order the same thing every time. My friend loves and always orders a shrimp/spinach dish. The atmosphere is OK.

            One with a beautiful atmosphere (real flowers at every table) and I've loved everything I ordered on three occasions is Kindee across from the Guthrie.

            Here's a link:


            1. Try Supatra's on West 7th. It's been awhile since I've been there, but I was happy last time.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Haricotsv2

                Supatra's has vastly improved. If going on a weekend evening make reservations.

              2. Lemongrass has solid ambiance, and I think their pad thai is the best I have had. Their curries are their strong suit, I think.