Thai Street Market, which opened a couple of years ago is located in the northeast quadrant of St. Paul, just short of the northwestern snout of Maplewood (a very oddly shaped city; I cannot be the first to think that the top bit looks like the outline of a drawing of a dog’s head). I’ve been seeing very positive notices of it online for a while now but it’s been hard for us to go past the University Ave. stalwarts while on the hunt for Thai food. After a very satisfying exploration late last year of Krungthep Thai‘s menu, however, we were finally motivated to give Thai Street Market a go. In fact, it is also located on Rice St., just about a mile north of Krungthep Thai. We descended on them this weekend with four of our regular eating out crew. Here is what we found.
It is a compact restaurant—just above 40 seats at full capacity, I think—and done up in a spare but attractive manner. Its decor is light on Thai kitsch—and it maybe the only Thai restaurant I’ve visited in the Twin Cities that doesn’t have the requisite picture of the royals somewhere on its walls (or did I miss it?). There are a few touristy pictures put up discreetly on the wall by the entrance but that appears to be it for obvious Thai signifiers. The menu too is compact: two pages that cover the standard dishes familiar to American diners and don’t really include anything else (there’s a specials board but it didn’t include anything interesting either). The restaurant may be named “Thai Street Market” but it serves ye olde familiar Thai food. There’s no whole fish here, for example, the only larb option is with chicken and there’s nothing even a little funky. All of this would suggest that the restaurant is aimed at a very different audience than the University Ave. stalwarts. But what matters is the quality of what they do serve.
We didn’t order quite as expansively as we usually do with this group: just seven dishes among the six adults and a kids’ meal each for the boys. This kids’ meal option, by the way, is a nice touch. One boy got the chicken satay meal and the other the pork meal. Both came with rice (sticky rice in the case of the pork), apple sauce and a glass of lemonade. The adults started with the following: the papaya salad (quite good), the chicken larb (good) and the roast chicken (good—the chicken was cooked very well but the accompanying sauce was too cloying). We then had some tom yum with shrimp, massaman curry with chicken (a bit too much coconut milk for my liking), drunken noodles with pork (made with flat noodles) and their khao soi (also much more coconut milk-driven than at Krungthep Thai). All of it was tasty but none of it really jumped off the plate, so to speak.
Launch the slideshow to take a look at the food and the space and scroll down for thoughts on service and value.
The restaurant was all but empty when we got there, with only two other diners. A couple of other tables filled up while we were eating and a larger group was in the process of settling down as we were leaving. Despite the non-rush the sole person in the front of the house was not always very present but was personable enough when he was. Price? All of the above came to $120 with tax and tip. Counting the boys as one adult that’s roughly $17/head. Not bad for the quality and quantity (we did not generate any leftovers).
So, what did we think on the whole. I think we all thought—I certainly did—that this is a good neighbourhood Thai restaurant but not a whole lot more. I don’t know if the menu once had more interesting fare that got taken off but as it is there’s little that distinguishes it. We enjoyed everything we ate and would be thrilled to have it in our town, or even within 15-20 minutes reach, but coming from further south it’s hard to justify driving past University Ave. to eat here. And, frankly, if I lived in the general neighbourhood I’d have a tough time picking it over Krungthep Thai too.
Up next on the food front will be a few reports from Delhi and Goa. My next Twin Cities restaurant report will likely be in March.