There is no Thai food of any kind in our little town, decent or otherwise. This has meant going all the way up to University Avenue in St. Paul anytime we have a big Thai craving. Our attempts to find plausible alternatives to these long drives to On’s Kitchen or Bangkok Thai Deli have so far led us to Thai Curry House in Burnsville (decent), Spice in Savage (not good) and Taste of Thai Yai in Apple Valley (somewhere in between). Accordingly, when Joy’s Pattaya Thai in Richfield was recommended in February by an occasional reader as a good option for Thai food in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis, I filed it away. My mental filing system being what it is, we only just ended up going there for the first time this past weekend. Here is an account of what we found.
The restaurant is located on Lyndale just north of the 494-W and the sign is easy to miss—especially on a grey, rainy day—as it is all but obscured by a large tree. Once you spot it you’ll be glad to see that they have a large parking lot. The restaurant itself seems like it was once a diner. It’s got a cosy charm and quite a few tables spread across two dining areas. The menu is small and given over entirely to the American Thai all-stars; there were a couple of other dishes listed on a specials board near the entrance. There is absolutely nothing off the beaten path on the menu (larb is about as hardcore as it gets) and you won’t find Thai eggplant or other esoteric ingredients in any of the curries (indeed, zucchini takes the place of eggplant in a number of dishes and red bell peppers abound). So, this is not the place to go to if you’re looking for anything unusual. However, if a good curry and somtum (papaya salad) are what you are in the mood for, I am happy to say that the versions here are quite decent.
Alas, it’s not the case that you’ll escape the curse of Minnesota sweetness in most of the dishes here. While the somtum was nice and funky (redolent of fish sauce in a way reminiscent of Hmong preparations), the otherwise tasty tom yum was just a bit too sweet, as were both curries we ordered. The first of the curries—off the regular menu—was a panang curry with pumpkin and it would really have been very good if they’d held off on sweetness beyond that from the pumpkin itself. The special green curry with lobster was tasty as well, but in addition to being a bit sweeter than it should have been, was not really a green curry (you can get it with rice or noodles and even though we asked for rice it came over noodles). They have a 1-5 heat rating, by the way, and we got everything but the boys’ chicken satays at 5 and it didn’t come close to being hard to handle. If you like heat in your food I’d say go for a 5 but certainly no less than 4.
For everything we ate, with some comments in the captions, please launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for comments on the service and value.
Service was friendly and attentive. Portions were not stingy and, the gratuitous sweetness issue aside, the cooking was good. The rice/noodle confusion with the green curry ended up being to our advantage as we already had a lot of rice on the table and the noodles were done nicely. As for price, four adults and two small children ate for $85 all-in. Knock off the lobster and it would be below $80. This works out to about $16-17/head for five (counting the boys as one adult). I will add that I was surprised to see the gratuity added on to the bill for just six people but maybe we look like bad tippers.
While we wouldn’t ever choose it over On’s Kitchen or Bangkok Thai Deli, this is a solid bet if you’re looking for serviceable Thai food in the Richfield/Bloomington area (and we’re often right there for Indian grocery shopping) or if you’re at Ikea and not in the mood for meatballs. And even though Thai Curry House has a larger menu, I think we’d pick Joy’s Pattaya Thai over them.
Thanks to Peter Voyd for the recommendation!