In my recent post about dim sum in the Twin Cities I complained more generally about the state of Asian cuisines in the area, saying of Thai that “[W]e have two Thai restaurants that are quite good on their day (On’s Kitchen, Bangkok Thai Deli) and a large number that are mediocre at best.” I’ve previously reviewed one of those mediocre restaurants (Krungthep Thai) and here, alas, is a review of another: Supatra Thai.
Now, just in case you’re wondering, I didn’t go out in search of a bad meal as further evidence for my annoying claim. I went in search of a good meal, once again using one of Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s lists as a guide. Specifically, this relatively recent list of the “Best Thai Restaurants in the Twin Cities“. In retrospect, the fact that Supatra Thai was ranked below the utterly ordinary Krungthep Thai should have been a warning.
At any rate, after our lunch there last week I feel fairly confident in asserting that if the top five Thai restaurants list includes Supatra Thai perhaps it’s best to limit yourself to a top four list. I also feel confident that if Moskowitz Grumdahl truly believes that “the Supatra curries are unmatched” then she probably has not had very many decent Thai curries; more likely her brief was to pad out a list of Thai restaurants with more than just Bangkok Thai Deli and On’s Kitchen on it and she needed more words. At least, so I hope.
It’s not that anything was actively bad (well, one thing was); it’s that all of it was completely pedestrian, Americanized Thai food of a kind that you can find pretty much anywhere; and almost everything was unbalanced in its sweetness. It seems very clearly to be aiming at conservative Minnesotan palates. And judging by the packed house for lunch it does a good job of attracting them: it’s a very different clientele here than at Bangkok Thai Deli. But that in itself is not dispositive. On’s Kitchen also attracts a largely non-Asian crowd but doesn’t dumb down the food. Here the soup was overly sweet, the curries were watery with no depth of flavour, and corners were cut on ingredients. And, with a couple of exceptions, the menu is completely cookie-cutter.
Here is what we ate (there were four adults and our boys)—please click on an image below for a larger slideshow with detailed descriptions:
We had asked for everything that was meant to be hot to be at the highest heat setting (we were eating with my parents who have thermonuclear tolerances); in general, they complied with the heat request but most things tasted like chillies were mixed in with already cooked mild food. Now, I’ve no idea if this is what they actually did; but that’s what it tasted like: overly sweet food with a superficial lacing of chillies.
All of this plus tax and tip came to about $100, which is about $50 more than a meal of this quality should cost. It’s a nice space and the service is fine but from a gastronomic point of view there is absolutely no reason to eat here if you have any kind of expectation of getting anything even slightly out of the ordinary. Even if you’re eating with non-adventurous companions you should go to On’s Kitchen.
Okay, Twin Citizens, are there any other Thai restaurants worth an investigation?