Joy’s Thai (Lakeville, MN)


We ate at Joy’s Pattaya Thai in Richfield last year and thought the meal was decent enough. However, it is still far enough away from us that it never quite made sense to go there over our favourites on University Avenue in St. Paul (shout out once again to the Twin Cities’ true Eat Street). Imagine our surprise then to discover that a second location of Joy’s has been open for almost three years, just off Cedar Avenue in Lakeville, and just about 15-20 minutes from us. This is yet more evidence that you should not look to me as someone who is very up on Twin Cities restaurant openings and so forth (as with whisky, I have lots of opinions but very little information). But while may be slow to learn about restaurants, once we do we are quicker to go out and check them out. Accordingly, a couple of weeks ago we descended on Joy’s Thai with a number of the friends who’ve joined us on our University Avenue outings. Herewith, an account of our meal. 

The restaurant is located in a strip mall off 160th, right where it meets Cedar Avenue. I would have said that somehow we’ve driven past this intersection for almost 12 years without paying any attention to it but when we got there we realized that it has taken the space of a previous Thai restaurant named Spice Thai where we’d eaten right after arrival in 2007 (a meal we’d not liked at all)—in fact, the old restaurant’s name shows up on the bill as well! It turns out there’s also a location of Penzey’s Spices in that strip mall now (was it there then as well?). On this occasion, however, we were there just for Joy’s Thai. It’s a small but not tiny restaurant, and it’s bright with lots of natural light flooding in during the day and attractive-enough decor. We were there on a Sunday afternoon and it stayed quite busy while we were there.

There were nine of us (including our brats) and we ate a good cross-section of the menu:

  • The inevitable chicken satays for the boys: they said these were very good.
  • Thai beef jerky: also quite good, and enjoyed by the children and the adults.
  • Fish cakes: not in the same ballpark as the ones we enjoyed at Thai Cafe but creditable enough. We got two orders of these.
  • Papaya salad/somtum: Quite good and probably the hottest of the dishes we got.
  • Larb with beef: This was one of the highlights for me, if not quite as hot as we’d requested.
  • Tom Yum with seafood: Quite good but just a bit too sweet for my liking. Some members of the group liked it more than I did.
  • Pad kee mow/drunken noodles: Tasty but rather more saucy/gloppy than we’re used to with a little too heavy a hand with the soy sauce.
  • Green curry with pork: Decent but far too sweet.
  • Walleye red curry: Excellent, probably my favourite dish at the meal.

The dishes were all very attractively presented. We asked for everything but the first three items to be at the hottest possible setting but nothing approached truly lethal levels (only the somtum came close). And while I’d specifically asked for the curries to not be sweet—and was assured they wouldn’t be—the green curry was rather sweet, making me worry about what it might be like on the regular (then again we may just have got their regular prep). The walleye curry was much better all around.

For pictures of the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for service, price and thoughts on value and to see what’s coming next.

With tax and tip this came to just below $150. Counting our kids as one adult that works out to $18.75/head. That’s a pretty good deal for the number of dishes and the presence of fish and seafood in a bunch of them. And I have to say that I think I enjoyed this meal more than the one we had at the mothership (though we did not order identically there). By the way, our server told us that where Joy’s Pattaya Thai is co-owned by the eponymous Joy and someone else, this place is owned entirely by Joy. Speaking of our server, he was very pleasant and very present.

I would very much recommend Joy’s Thai if you’re within a 20 minute radius—it goes without saying there’s no need to drive down here from the Cities. We’ll certainly be back—I’ll report again once we’ve tried more of the menu. And, oh yes, I believe they have some sort of lunch special on weekdays (I know this because while trying to book the table I was told over and over again that there would be no lunch special on Sunday, only the dinner menu).

Well, I’m off to Hong Kong on Thursday—and from there to Bombay, Delhi and Los Angeles before returning to Minnesota in January. I’ll doubtless have a number of food reports from my travels but I also do have two more Twin Cities food reports to come: one on the excellent Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis and another of a surprisingly good Korean meal in St. Paul.

One thought on “Joy’s Thai (Lakeville, MN)

  1. We have eaten here and did not enjoy it as much as the one in Richfield though in the beginning when they opened we quite loved it. Their papaya salad was by far our fave, though we don’t get quite as ambitious with our ordering as my wife is still learning to order fish and enjoy it at the same time :-O !!!

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