Karta Thai

Pad Kee Mow

Karta Thai was recommended to me in a Chowhound discussion on Thai Food in the Twin Cities. The proposition advanced by some (and supported by me) and argued by others there was that most Thai restaurants in the area continue to suffer from the “too sweet” malady. My sub-argument was that outside of Bangkok Thai Deli and On’s Kitchen in St. Paul Thai food in the Twin Cities is also pedestrian at best. Since then we’ve eaten at Sen Yai Sen Lek, which I’d put just above pedestrian (though much better than the likes of Supatra). Karta Thai it was suggested was also a dependable place, offering solid execution of a standard menu. As we’re often in the neighbourhood for food shopping, and as solidly executed Thai food is something we’re always happy to eat, we stopped in some weeks ago. Herewith the report.

By the way, they have a larger, new offshoot further north on Central. We went to their original location, right opposite Sen Yai Sen Lek, also on Central. It turns out their chef started out at Sen Yai Sen Lek. We did see some similarities in execution/approach (especially with the khao soi) but were glad to see that unlike the other they don’t serve curries etc. as individually plated entrees here. It made the meal much easier to share, and also much easier to take leftovers home (a good thing, given our tendency to order a lot). We asked for everything meant to be hot to be cooked at the hottest level, and some of it was really quite hot.

As always, click on an image below to launch a slideshow of larger images with descriptions.

All of this plus a beer (I think) came to about $68. The service was friendly. On the whole, a pleasant meal, and I think I’d agree that the food here is not, on the whole, tipped towards the sweet. I’d agree as well that it’s solid and if we lived close-by I could see getting regular takeout. In fact, based on our meal I’d say that it’s at the top of the second tier for us, though quite a bit below the two in the top tier.

By the way, if you like the way they do khao soi here and at Sen Yai Sen Lek, please compare it with the version at Bangkok Thai Deli. That version is very close to the best versions in Thai Town in Los Angeles. Given the origins of the Karta Thai kitchen in the kitchen at Sen Yai Sen Lek, I suspect that this is not a regional variation but merely the Sen Yai Sen Lek rendition ported over. People who are more knowledgeable about Thai food than me, please correct me if I’m wrong.

So, Twin Citizens: I’ve covered On’s Kitchen, Bangkok Thai Deli, Krungthep Thai, Supatra Thai, Sen Yai Sen Lek and Karta Thai; are there any other Thai places of interest you’d recommend I check out?

4 thoughts on “Karta Thai

  1. Royal Bangkok (in the space previously occupied by Bangkok Thai) is pretty great, though I’ve only ever had their $5 lunch buffet (you get scoops of any 5 items out of around 20 or so). At that investment, though, it’s hard to beat. Also Sam Thai in White Bear Lake, if only because the owner is such a nice fellow (the food is pretty good too, and Thai hot means Thai hot). And East Side Thai is worthwhile if you’re ever on that side of town.

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  2. Royal Bangkok is the place right across from Bangkok Thai Deli, right? If we can avoid Bangkok Thai Deli’s tractor beam we’re in that neighbourhood a fair bit.

    Brooklyn Park, however, is quite a bit out of our way and I’m usually a bit nervous about Thai+ restaurants*. How would you say Lemon Grass compares to some of the better known places in the Cities?

    (*Thai + something else, in this case sushi and Hmong food.)

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  3. Sorry Annoying, for the late response. My initial attempts at posting were caught in the filters I think.

    Anyway…appreciate the offer to make a restaurant suggestion. You might want to check Kindee Thai, just across from the Guthrie. Kindee has always been consistent for us. The space is sleek and contemporary, yet comfortable (unlike most mom ‘n pop places along University). I guess you could say the same about the food. The service has always been friendly and efficient.

    The menu is not as deep or as varied as the familial On’s, but Kindee’s value prop is high, as opposed to Sen Yai Sen Lek, which we thought a bit pricey for its digs. (Although I’ve noticed Kindee has increased their prices somewhat, but what restaurant hasn’t these last couple years)

    I guess I don’t know if I would suggest someone go out of there way to visit, but definitely worth a stop if you’re in the neighborhood (or going to see a play!).

    By the way, based on your review of Karta, I think I will grab the missus some time soon and check it out, thank you.

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