Friday, June 22, 2007

Taste of Thailand

I was able to try to the new Taste of Thailand in downtown Minneapolis when Eric & I got together for lunch yesterday. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I've really never gotten the whole Taste of Thailand thing. A lot of friends of mine went to Mac and went there with a near religious frequency, but every time I ate there I was profoundly underwhelmed. Still, it's a new restaurant in downtown and I was dying for a little food and company.
The service is odd, but the room that used to be the SoHo clothing shop specializing in pimped out gear and shoes for the performances over at the Skyway Lounge has been transformed into a lovely maroon dining area. There was a lunch buffet, but all of the food looked rather pale. I love spicy and the complex flavors that Thai food usually has, so we decided to order off the menu.
The confused host seated us a table mumbling something about "Was reservation" that did still have the "reserved" sign on it and wandered away. They never did take their sign. The waitress was not well versed in English and seemed really shy. She'd also clearly never seen the menu before, but seemed like a nice enough young lady.
We ordered the fresh spring rolls, a veggie assortment with spicy dipping sauce, I had the Larb and Eric got a crab curry dish.
Our spring rolls appeared immediately and were well executed. The wrappers were really thick and gummy, but the shrimp, chicken and herb filling and dipping sauce were delicious. I was so happy they'd arrived because I saw this ravenous look in Eric's eye like he was about to gnaw my arm off. Next came our fresh veggie assortment with cucumbers, adorable little floral carved carrots, broccoli and string beans. The spicy dipping sauce was really more like salty goo in a bowl. I couldn't eat it, but was happy to munch on the carrots.
I'd thought two entrees and two appetizers for lunch was ridiculous, but actually it ended up being the perfect amount of food. My Larb was truly one serving of diced chicken mixed with chili, fish sauce, cilantro, fresh mint and lime juice. It was a really refreshing, light lunch. Eric's dish was superb, though. I'd love to go back again today and order it again. It was a culinary adventure, too! It was a whole crab broken up and served in a steamy curry sauce that wasn't coconut based. It was a full flavored broth, but wasn't overly thick or over powering.
Watching Eric try to break into those crab legs, though, I'm telling ya, I could sell tickets. He didn't know what the hell he was doing and they don't give you any utensils other than a large spoon and a fork. Here he's wearing this really nice shirt from Saks and trying to manhandle the crustasean. Clearly, he'd never had crab legs before. My sister could have gotten into those spiny little suckers like a surgeon, pulling every last bite of meat out, but poor Eric the novice was splashing curry sauce all over the place. Worse, you're apparently only alloted one napkin a piece because despite our looking high and low around the restaurant (server disappeared never to return) we couldn't find a one. Not even a cocktail napkin at the bar! Ha! Still Eric's a tidy enough guy that he only got four little specks of the sauce on his nice and hopefully not ruined shirt.
Once you got into the crab, however, it was delicious. Sweet, tender meat. I had horked down my half a cup of diced chicken and was licking my chops like a cat at the bird feeder, waiting for him to drop a piece. It was so good I want to go back and get it again right now. Between the two of us there wasn't a speck of food left on the table.
Then we looked around us - the place was suddenly empty! Not even any employees were wandering around. It was like stumbling into a Stephen King plot. What the...? It was only 1:00 p.m.! Apparently, that was too late for people to be expected to still be dining. Finally we were able to locate the confused host guy and get our check out of him. It was a spendy little lunch ($17 for me.) And again, there was the oddness, but the food was by far the best Thai available in downtown Minneapolis on a Thursday.


At 10:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i recommend "taste of thai" on selby and dale, or at least on one block west of dale on selby in st paul. great for take out but forget the dining in, not worth the pain. after all, asian food almost always taste better when eating in the comforts of your living room, right?

At 10:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

previous comment...that was from jimmy k

At 12:08 PM , Anonymous Andy said...

Part of the charm of the Taste of Thailand in St. Paul was having to wait long lengths of time for a dinky table and dirty water glasses. Your experience sounds way too high-brow to be of the same name as the Mac digs.

At 3:11 PM , Blogger Joy Estelle said...

Maybe that's why I never liked it - I was too stoned to tolerate the wait!
I've been meaning to try that place on Selby & Dale but I can't be at that intersection and not end up at the Muddy Pig.


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