On’s Kitchen VIII (St. Paul, MN)

If Grand Szechuan is our family’s favourite restaurant in the Twin Cities, On’s Kitchen is a close second. We’ve been eating here since it opened and it has very rarely let us down. One of those occasions was our last dine-in meal there in late 2019. Later I learned that On had retired from the kitchen earlier that year—significant news that you might think the local food media would have shared loudly while honouring her. We nonetheless ordered takeout from On’s on multiple occasions during the height of the pandemic and it seemed to us that the quality had once again gone back up. This past weekend we finally ate there in person for the first time since that 2019 meal. And I am very happy to say that it was a rather excellent meal. I don’t know who is running the kitchen now but they’re putting out very good food. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 74: On’s Kitchen in the New Year

It took till February but we finally made it to the Twin Cities for a meal in 2022. My first Minnesota report for the year was of Mexican lunch from a favourite in our town, El Triunfo. The next weekend I ventured a bit further north to Burnsville to pick up Indian food from India Palace. This past weekend we finally made it up to St. Paul for a Thai meal. The original plan had been to go back to Basil Cafe, whose food we quite enjoyed last spring. But they didn’t seem to be open: Google showed them closed all week except on Tuesday and I couldn’t raise them on the phone either. I hope this is a temporary situation. Well, it was with no reluctance or disappointment at all that we fell back on On’s Kitchen instead. We thought about eating in but in the end it was takeout again. This time, however, we didn’t bring the food back to our place, driving instead only a few minutes to the home of friends who often join us on our Twin Cities outings. Here’s how it went. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 32: On’s Kitchen (St. Paul, MN)

It took us a while to get to On’s Kitchen on our pandemic takeout outings. We’ve got food from Bangkok Thai Deli and Thai Cafe since the lockdown eased in the early part of the summer but it took us another few months to go back to On’s. This is partly because we’ve been trying a number of restaurants we haven’t been to before or in many years (Vietnamese places like Pho Pasteur and iPho and also Indian places like Indian Masala and Godavari). But to be honest it’s also because we weren’t very enthused by our last pre-pandemic meal at On’s. That was in September of 2019 and after posting that review I learned that On had retired from the kitchen earlier that year—momentous news from the Twin Cities’ best Thai restaurant that you think would have been reported by all the professional critics but who am I kidding? Anyway, given that it had been our favourite Thai restaurant in Minnesota for many years, it didn’t seem right to stay away and so I drove up last Saturday to pick up a large order to eat on our deck with our usual crew. Despite the good weather, or rather because of it, we skipped going to a park for a walk—we figured there’d be larger crowds and so just did a long walk in our own neighbourhood. The walk was good but I’m happy to say the food was better. Continue reading

On’s Kitchen IV (St. Paul, MN)

When people ask for recommendations for the best Thai food in the Twin Cities I usually mention Bangkok Thai Deli, and lately Thai Cafe, and then say, but really, On’s Kitchen is the best. It recently occurred to me though that somehow we have not eaten at On’s since my last review and that was in early 2018. Science demanded that we go back soon to check if that recommendation can continue to be issued with such conviction. And so it came to pass that we descended on On’s Kitchen with a few friends last Saturday and ordered and ate an ungodly amount of food. What was our verdict on its current merits? Read on. Continue reading

On’s Kitchen III (St. Paul)

After an iffy report from Minneapolis (of dinner at Kado no Mise), I have a very positive report from St. Paul: of lunch at one of the most reliable restaurants in the Twin Cities, On’s Kitchen. This is my third review of the Twin Cities’s best Thai restaurant. We’ve eaten there several times since my previous review and somehow it’s been 2.5 years since I’ve got to writing them up again. We were there for lunch last weekend with a small subset of our usual dining out crew and we ordered a number of old favourite dishes plus some we haven’t eaten so often. It was all very good.  Continue reading

On’s Kitchen II

Pad Sator
No, On’s Kitchen hasn’t opened a second location: this is my second review of On’s Kitchen. It’s not the only time we’ve eaten there since the first review, it’s only the second review I’ve gotten around to writing; and, in fact, it’s a compendium of our two most recent meals there. In the time since the first review—way back in late 2013 when I’d first started to post restaurant write-ups on the blog—I’ve covered a number of the other Thai places that get attention from Twin Cities foodies and food media and have confirmed what everyone knows to be true: at the top are On’s Kitchen and Bangkok Thai Deli and everyone else is well below that. What not everyone wants to say, however, is that even the better places below them are not even really in the same weight division. But rather than dwell on the shortcomings of the rest of the scene, I’ll note once again how lucky we are, in a region without a large Thai population, to have two Thai restaurants that offer up very good renditions of more than your standard-issue Thai restaurant fare, and where it is possible to get even the standard-issue fare cooked at a high level and unsweetened or otherwise watered down. Continue reading

On’s Kitchen

On’s Kitchen (at 1613 University Avenue W. in St. Paul) is one of our very favourite places to eat in the Twin Cities. It is a family-owned Thai restaurant started a few years ago when owner/chef On Khumchaya left the kitchen of the Bangkok Thai Deli (further down University Avenue). There was a marked dip in the quality at Bangkok Thai Deli after she left, and we haven’t gone back since we found her again a couple of miles up the road–they may well have recovered.

Anyway: On’s Kitchen’s menu contains a lot of the familiar Thai dishes that can be found on the menu of every Thai restaurant in the US, but there are also a number of more esoteric things on it that are well worth checking out. We’ve eaten up and down the menu and every meal has been at least very good–with one exception when On was away in Thailand. Everything is made to order and has the clarity and depth of flavour which tells you that they’re not using commercial pastes or taking any shortcuts. And unlike at almost every other Thai restaurant in Minnesota the food here is not cloyingly sweet. Service can be a little bit spotty when the restaurant is full–there are only two people serving and bussing the tables–but this is really a very minor complaint. Continue reading