Pandemic Takeout 53: Back to On’s Kitchen (St. Paul, MN)


Back in the winter we went 3 months between Thai meals, going after a very good lunch from On’s Kitchen in November on a long, unplanned and unfortunate fast that we only broke with takeout from Bangkok Thai Deli in February. We haven’t made a mistake like that since, having been back a month later in March to Thai Cafe. And, less than a month past that meal, we went back this past weekend to On’s Kitchen to pick up another large order to eat on our deck with friends. The weather this weekend was nowhere as warm as on the previous but as long as it isn’t snowy or icy or raining we’re eating outside with vaccinated and cautious friends every chance we get. This too was a good meal, if falling a bit short, on the whole, of November’s. Herewith the details.

We were four adults and two small children but we felt it would be unwise to not order enough food for 10 very hungry adults. After all, the only thing better than a good pandemic takeout lunch is pandemic takeout leftover for lunch the next day.

What did we get?

The boys as usual started with chicken satay—On’s iteration is their absolute favourite in the Twin Cities and believe me they are connoisseurs of the genre. For their main they moved on to the Khao Ka-Mu or five-spiced pork served with a boiled egg and gai lan over rice. I will not pretend that they ate the gai lan but they did a good job on the rest. The adults meanwhile began with an order of another old favourite: the tod man or fish cakes and these were as good as always. After that a dish that we might have ordered for the first time despite having eaten at On’s for low these many years: the garlic pork. The three other adults liked it more than I did: I liked the flavour but some of the meat was too tough (this may have been a result of the long drive and reheating, of course).

From there we moved on to two salad: the nam thok and the bamboo salad, both very good if not as hot as I’d asked for them to be. We got a rice dish as well: the basic Thai fried rice with pork. Another first-time dish: stir fried ginger with pork. This turned out to be much soupier than I’d expected but tasty anyway. Then a red curry that was made less sweet as I’d asked but not Thai hot as I’d also asked. Things ended strong, however, with two of our absolute favourite dishes from the menu, both from the On’s Specials section at the end: pad sathor (an acquired taste, given the, how shall I say? fragrant nature of the sathor beans, but one you can’t shake once you acquire it) and the pad eggplant. Both come in a very flavourful sauce along with shrimp and in the case of the latter, pork as well. Steamed rice and one order of sticky rice to go with.

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

As you can see, the restaurant is still boarded up (since last summer). They’re open to dining in—it still looks like an aquarium in there with the windows boarded up—but I really recommend takeout as the best option; and not just because the sign on the door says “Masks Recommended” and not “Masks Required”. We are nearing the end line of this damned pandemic and it would be great if we could all just be patient for a couple more months till vaccinations get us to herd immunity status.

Right, how much did all this cost? With a 20% tip it came to a total of $154. Which means a true per head cost of just over $15 for the amount of food there was. Very good value indeed. I recommend highly that you get something from them soon, especially if you live in the vicinity.

What’s next? Either the long-threatened return to Peninsula on Nicollet in Minneapolis or a first-time visit to a new(er) Indian place in Bloomington. Let’s see how things look as the weekend gets closer. Much may depend on our dining companions’ preferences.

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