Two weekends ago we met an out of town friend at a recently opened Thai restaurant on Eat Street in Minneapolis which received rave reviews about authenticity from Jeremy Iggers as well as The Heavy Table. He’s a Thai fan and following my multiple experiences eating at Ronin Sushi Cafe’s traditional, multi-course, special evenings where they served truly authentic Thai cuisine (nothing at all Americanized) I was excited to check out Krungthep Thai.
We arrived for lunch and found a nearly empty restaurant. There was one other table and only one other person came in to pick up a takeout order while we were there. We were seated promptly, provided menus, water, and some time to look over the absolutely massive menu.
After much time we settled on three items: Pad Thai, Pad-see-eew for our buddy, and some dish with beef and peppers with rice (ordered ‘extremely hot’), the name of which is long since forgotten and due to the lack of an online menu unable to be recalled–sorry. We also put in orders for spring rolls, egg rolls, and Thai sausage as appetizers.
Our appetizers came out in short order. The Thai sausage was full of fresh herbs, had a ton of flavor and was overall quite nice aside from the heavy amount of grease pooling on the plate. The spring rolls were nicely done and pretty but didn’t include any promised pork and had only a tiny piece of tasteless shrimp in each. The eggrolls were flaky and filled with lots of vegetables and not much else.
The entrees eventually arrived and my dish, ordered extremely hot, had no spice coming up with the steam. In fact, the first few bites provided absolutely no spice whatsoever. My friend tried some and noted he didn’t taste any spice either. The meat was overdone and chewy, the rice accompanying it was nothing special, and overall it was edible however I wouldn’t consider it even remotely “authentic” and definitely not “extremely hot”. Later when I made mention of the lack of spice to the waitress her mock horror face did little to fix the problems. She said she made mention of it to the kitchen and they were just in shock. While nothing is really too hot for me, with The Heavy Table making specific note of the heat levels in their own review:
Just make sure to specify the mildest level of spice when ordering. Even the most well-adjusted palate might recoil after a few bites of a medium spice dish. That’s right. Krungthep’s for real.
I really have to take exception to this. Either we were there on a very off day or people need to get on the ever growing heat-loving bandwagon, yes even in Minnesota, before they start ranting and raving about the spice levels of Minnesota restaurants. I really do expect a publication like The Heavy Table to know better and not print such ridiculousness unless beads of sweat are dripping off your face and onto your plate. Just because it’s ‘warmer’ than ketchup doesn’t mean it needs specific mention in your review.
Even with my mediocre dish, our friend’s Pad-see-eew was fine. It was nothing special in my opinion and certainly not at all as authentic as both Iggers and The Heavy Table claimed it would be. In fact, it was just about as Americanized as you could get. The Wife’s Pad Thai, while missing peanuts and sprouts because she chooses to avoid them during pregnancy, was bright orange and tasted like a sweet orange syrup. While she ordered hers “medium” it was too spicy for her to eat. I agreed that it had some heat, certainly not to be confused with my “extremely hot” dish but not worthy of mention. Unfortunately the dish itself was completely and utterly Americanized and a fairly big disappointment. I’ve had better Pad Thai at Noodles and Company. While I may be able to forgive The Heavy Table‘s ignorance on appropriately gauging Thai spice levels, their claims that Krungthep’s Pad Thai is what you order for your, “hard-to-please friends who made Pad Thai at home when they were, like, 12,” was laughable. Pad Thai is street food, not something Thais generally make at home, let alone when they’re 12 but hey, I get it, it sounds nice in a review. Unfortunately, in reality, it was just a cruel joke.
Overall, in our experience, Krungthep Thai in Minneapolis was not only the very typical Americanized Thai restaurant you’re likely to find in just about any Minnesota strip mall but it was also mediocre overall and definitely way underspiced even for Minnesota Thai. Edible for sure but definitely overhyped in every single way. I won’t be recommending anyone go there and instead suggest if you’re in the mood for some better Pad Thai that you head on over to the freezer section of your local grocer and get some Lean Cuisine Pad Thai Noodles with Chicken. You’ll end up paying less, receiving more spice, and you won’t be nearly as disappointed as we were with Krungthep’s pedestrian, Americanized Thai cuisine.
Have you ever eaten at Krungthep Thai in Minneapolis on Eat Street? If so what did you think? Where do you go for truly spicy Thai? How about “authentic” Thai? Do you agree that people’s tolerance for spice, even in Minnesota, has grown recently? Do you think it’s utterly ridiculous to keep over-estimating the levels people can handle just because this state has traditionally been so intolerant? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.
2523 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404
See all the pictures from Krungthep Thai on Flickr here.