Pandemic Takeout 49: Back to Thai Cafe (St. Paul, MN)

After Mediterranean, Indian and Mexican meals in the past three weeks (at Gyros Grill, Godavari and El Triunfo) we were jonesing for something Southeast Asian and Thai in particular. Having eaten takeout from Bangkok Thai Deli relatively recently we were looking to go somewhere else. On’s Kitchen was the natural second choice but it turned out they were closed for one of their regular breaks (till today, I think). Then I thought that we might give Ruam Mit Thai another go—we weren’t overly impressed when we ate there a couple of times a few years ago but I recently received reports of improvement there under new ownership. I called and it turned out they too were closed on Saturday for maintenance. Then I though I would give Phi Chay, the successor to Supatra Thai (another place we didn’t think too highly off when we ate there some years ago), a go. But it turns out they’re only open on weekends. I thought about Thai Garden and Krungthep Thai but then decided to just go back to another tried and true place: Thai Cafe. And a good decision it was too as the meal turned out to be rather good indeed.

It was a sunny and warm (for Minnesota in March) and so we asked a couple of friends over for our first socially-distanced deck lunch since late last fall. And one of our friends from our regular pod joined as well. So we were five adults and our two boys. What did we eat?

Well, I should say first that despite the steady loosening of restrictions in Minnesota—which I must admit I am at best ambivalent about—Thai Cafe is not yet open for dining in. You call in your order—and have the option to pay over the phone. You then park in the rear, given them another call and they bring your order out to your car. It’s curbside pickup like it’s still spring of 2020 and I must say I felt good about it. I realize not all restaurants are still down with this kind of cautiousness—probably because not enough customers are—but I hope people will continue to support the places that are still putting safety first. The end of the tunnel appears to be in sight—let’s not rush towards it and get run over by an unexpected freight train.

Okay, let’s get back to the positive. Our meal included the following:

  • Fish cakes. We’ve always enjoyed them here (though I have to admit I’m not definite that these are made in house) and they were very tasty on this occasion as well.
  • Thai-style papaya salad. Extremely hot and extremely good.
  • Pork larb. Also extremely hot and extremely good.
  • Sour pork rib. When we last got this from them last year they’d dried out a bit too much on the drive home. Following a suggestion I’d received then, I wrapped them in foil when I got home and reheated them gently in the toaster oven. Very good indeed.
  • Tom Kha Gai. We liked this last time and liked it even more this time.
  • Thai fried rice. Better, in our opinion, than the special Thai Cafe fried rice we’d got last time; and a good relief dish.
  • Khao moo krob. As I’ve noted before, the boys are not high on Thai Cafe’s style of chicken satay and so we skipped it. And as they’d enjoyed this dish of deep fried pork over steamed rice before when dining in we got it instead. Well, it got a bit dried out too on the way home but the boys enjoyed it fine.
  • Spicy pad ka pao. This dish was one of the highlights of the meal at which we’d previously tried it and it might have been our favourite dish at this lunch as well. Satanically hot but very well balanced anyway.
  • Panang curry with pork.  This was the one misfire. Well, it wasn’t bad but it suffered from the Minnesota curse of being too sweet. I should have thought to ask them to not make it too sweet.
  • Massaman curry with beef. This very peanuttty massaman curry was much better.

For a look at the menu and the food launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much it all cost and to see what might be coming next.

Taking just the adults’ food, there was enough there for 7-8 hungry adults to eat (we over-ate like crazy and skipped dinner). Which means the cost was $15-17/head which is just a screaming deal for the quality. And if you’re wondering about the heat levels, I asked for everything that’s not supposed to be mild to be made at the hottest setting or 5/5 on their scale—you could always ask for it a little or a lot lower.

Okay, what’s next? We might go back to St. Paul against next weekend. It’s going to be another warm’ish weekend (which we could really use after the Monday we just had) and I’m hoping I can talk the congregation into a return to Homi. Let’s see how it goes.


3 thoughts on “Pandemic Takeout 49: Back to Thai Cafe (St. Paul, MN)

  1. We’ve been to Phi Chay. I can’t tell the difference from Supatra’s. And Supatra’s was not a favorite after trying On’s, Bangkok Thai Café, and Thai Café. If I were traveling from the south metro, I’d stay a few more exits on 35E.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.