This is just a brief report on a lunch a few weeks ago at Krungthep Thai in Minneapolis, an Eat Street offshoot of the Bangkok Thai Deli in St. Paul. As noted before, the Bangkok Thai Deli was where On of On’s Kitchen used to cook, and they seem to be the launching pad for new Thai places in the cities. Krungthep Thai has been named the best Thai restaurant in Minneapolis by City Pages and the best Thai restaurant in the Twin Cities by Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, and while when we first came to Minnesota that would have been an utterly meaningless accolade, the scene is now much improved and so we were interested to check it out.
It’s a large space (with two dining rooms), much fancier than Bangkok Thai Deli (not that that would have taken much in their old location–they’ve recently moved to new and improved digs, but more on this in a week or so); and while not as bright as On’s Kitchen it’s much larger. And they seem to be doing well–there was a snowstorm in progress by the time we got there but they still seemed to be getting a steady stream of customers.
What we ate (click on the thumbnails for a larger slideshow with captions):
For some reason the menu does not transliterate the Thai names of the dishes into English (something we recently discovered is now the case at Bangkok Thai Deli as well.)
Further on the bizarre Khao Soi: When I asked the young waitress if this was how it was supposed to be she looked rather foxed. When I pressed her she allowed that it’s not actually made in-house. On cue I found a little bit of clear plastic in my bowl. When I asked her where exactly it came from she said it (and presumably some other items too) are made centrally at the mothership in St. Paul and sent out to their restaurant to be served later. She didn’t seem to have any idea as to what the dish should actually look like and so I let it go. As to whether Bangkok Thai Deli didn’t send over enough soup to go with the crispy noodles (which must have been packed in plastic) or whether it disappeared in the kitchen while being reheated or whether this is some intentional variation on Khao Soi, I don’t know; I do know it was crap.
So, an odd end to what had been a decent meal till that point. But between the not-quite pristine crab in the salad and the Khao Soi disaster we were left with bad tastes in our mouth. Which is too bad as the thick curry and the soft-shell crab were really quite good–even though they didn’t really come out “Thai hot” as we’d asked. As it is, however, if this is the best Thai restaurant in the Twin Cities (I am willing to grant it may be the best in Minneapolis) we must have caught them on a very bad afternoon or whoever dubbed it thus has never been to On’s Kitchen, or quite possibly is on crack. It did inspire us to finally go back to Bangkok Thai Deli last week, and we had a great lunch there that blew this meal out of the water (and also all but killed me on the heat front). More on that next week.
With tax and tip this came to $74, which is not really a good deal for what we ate.