I have reviewed a Twin Cities restaurant named Krungthep Thai before. This both isn’t and is that restaurant. Confusing, I know. That Krungthep Thai was located on Nicollet Ave. in Minneapolis—the so-called “Eat Street”; the real Eat Street, of course, is University Ave. in St. Paul. It closed some years ago and Khun Nai Thai (which I have also reviewed) opened in its space. This Krung Thep Thai then popped up on Rice Street. in St. Paul a couple of years later. Both were/are satellite locations of Bangkok Thai Deli, which sits, along with On’s Kitchen, atop the Twin Cities Thai food scene. Now, while we liked our meal at Krungthep Thai mostly fine, we found it to be an inferior facsimile of Bangkok Thai Deli. For this reason, I was reluctant to go try this new incarnation. But curiosity and greed finally overcame my hesitation. Accordingly we descended on them last month with friends we eat out with often. Here is what we found.
One of the problems with the first version of Krungthep Thai seemed to be its distance from Bangkok Thai Deli. For example, among the biggest misses at our meal there was the khao soi, which came out with a miniscule amount of soup in the bowl. When we queried the server she’d told us that some dishes were ferried to them from the mothership—some manifestly did not have good journeys. Thankfully, there was no sign of this problem at the new incarnation. Whether it’s because of the greater proximity to the mothership or—more likely—because there’s a more capable chef in the kitchen, this was a very good meal and mostly indistinguishable from our more recent outings to Bangkok Thai Deli. Indeed, the menu appears essentially the same as Bangkok Thai Deli’s.
What is not identical is the look and feel of the place. Those who’ve been to Bangkok Thai Deli know that it’s a largely functional room, with tables very close to each other and not a whole lot of thought given to ambience. Krungthep Thai is altogether more attractively laid out and the atmosphere is far less frantic. And perhaps due to its location—away from the bustle of University Ave—it is also far less crowded. Yes, it’s a bit further away from us, driving from the hamlets of Rice County, but the same menu as Bangkok Thai Deli, pretty much the same quality, with far less of a crush? That seems like a pretty winning combination.
Here is a look at the space, the menu and the dishes we ate. Almost everything we ate was very good. The highlights in my opinion were the khao soi (no problems of execution here), the larb and the stir-fried Chinese eggplant; the tom yum was also very good as was the very fish sauce-funky Lao-style papaya salad (though I think I was the only very enthusiastic about this). The only thing I was a bit disappointed in was the drunken noodles, which I like better with flat noodles and more of a char. The boys actually found something they liked even more than the chicken satay, albeit this was another bit of grilled meat (pork) on skewers.
Take a look at the slideshow and scroll down to see how much it all cost and so forth.
The general milieu being far less frantic than at Bangkok Thai Deli, service was also smoother. That said, I don’t mean to give the impression that we don’t enjoy eating at Bangkok Thai Deli, for we very much do: its atmosphere has its own charm. So, price: with tax and included tip the total came to $146. We were four adults, a teenager and two small kids. So say, six adults worth or $25/head. But given the large amount of leftovers we took home it’s safe to say eight adults could have easily eaten this meal. So the real per head cost would have been $18/head. Without drinks, of course, but a very good deal anyway for the quality and quantity of what we ate. Oh yes, we asked for most things to be made spicy and they packed a decent amount of heat.
As much as we enjoyed the meal it did make us want to go check in on Bangkok Thai Deli again. Somehow, we didn’t eat there at all in 2019. 2020 will be different. Up next though from the Twin Cities will be a write-up of a very elaborate dinner at Demi, our first meal out in 2020. That’ll be next week.