Based on the recommendation of several readers, especially Art; Laurie (Art’s much better half), Kim, Tim, Laura and I headed over to Taste of Thaiyai in Apple Valley for dinner. I have been to a ton of Thai places in the last year and based on what I’ve heard from readers, this is one of the best — if not the best Thai restaurant in the South Metro, especially if you are looking for it to be hot. Being that nothing is too hot for me, I was intrigued to find out what this place had in store for me.
Last week, on Sunday, I headed over to Burnsville’s Thai Curry House located near Applewood Rustic Grille but being that we only had takeout and the inside of their restaurant looks so nice, I have decided to hold off official judgment until we’ve actually sat down inside and not nabbed takeout minutes before they planned to close for the evening. A quick review of Thai Curry House is, “fifty-fifty for the options we chose late on a Sunday evening, interesting decor and seating arrangements, and a good bit of spice which was enough to keep my mouth hot until we got home nearly 15 minutes later.”
We decided to meet everyone at the restaurant at 6 PM on Sunday. We pulled into the parking lot which Taste of Thaiyai shares with Rascal’s and ValleyGirl Espresso Bar and Eatery. Being sandwiched in between those two meant to me that at the very least they should be able to cook up some good food just through osmosis alone! The place is not much to look at from the parking lot and if I hadn’t specifically been told to eat there by so very many different people, I don’t know if I would have. Apparently the restaurant that used to be located here was not nearly as good but service and food quality have improved since the current owners took over.
We walked in and sat down at a table that Art and his wife had all ready for us. There was another fairly large table in as well but they ended up leaving about halfway through our time there — probably because they were tired of hearing me cackle ;-) We had to wait a bit for Tim as he complained that he was late due to the GPS screwing up and the multitude of improperly timed traffic lights that seem to be so prolific in our part of town. This was good for me as the menu was absolutely enormous and had every single item numbered offering a quick total of 75 different things to choose from. After much hemming and hawing as well as a suggestion from Art himself, I ended up with the #60 (Laab Gai) which is listed as diced chicken mixed with lime juice, roasted rice powder, fresh mint leaves, coriander, green onions and hot chili peppers. It is served with soup, fresh vegetables, and sticky rice all for $9.20. Kim and Laura, following Laurie’s lead, both ordered the #44 (Pad Pak) which is stir-fried vegetables featuring mushrooms, celery, broccoli, Napa cabbage, onions, pea pods, green beans, red bell peppers, and carrots with prices ranging from $8.20 for vegetarian to $11.20 if you wanted it with squid or shrimp. In addition, Kim and I both picked up appetizers with Kim going the boring route and ordering cream cheese puffs ($3.40) and me going with their Chicken Satay with a spicy peanut curry sauce for $5.20.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye our appetizers started appearing, one by one, at the table. Kim’s puffs came out first and were decent. Kim liked that they were filled with a good amount of cream cheese and that she didn’t feel like she was eating a lot of fried nothingness which is an issue with cream cheese puffs at any number of other places in town. We both tried my Chicken Satay and while neither of us thought that the peanut sauce was better than what was available at Satay 2 Go, I did enjoy the appetizer and wouldn’t shy away from eating it again. Being that I’m crazy about spicy food, I must admit that I didn’t find the “spicy peanut curry sauce” to have any bite at all and being that Kim didn’t mention that it was, I’d have to say that you’d just end up with plain old peanut sauce if you ordered this dish.
Just as I finished the last of my numerous satay sticks our main courses began lining the table. The girls all had the same thing and they were all prepared very nicely. The vegetables were plentiful and displayed nicely with the carrots cut up to look like cutesy little flowers. While I didn’t try any of it, the ladies seemed to enjoy it immensely with Laura nearly finishing the entire plate which was something no one expected at first glance. Tim’s chicken Pad Thai was so fucking big that as he ate it he kept remarking that it was as if the food was reproducing itself on the plate into an ever expanding pile.
My meal was great. I had never had anything like what I did tonight before. Discussing it on the way home in the car, being that it was presented on a bed of lettuce, I probably should have wrapped it up in the lettuce leaves and eaten it that way — I wasn’t even thinking, I’m such an idiot. But I basically mixed the chicken with sticky rice and Sriracha and ate away. While I didn’t taste any mint, I did taste a lot of cilantro which covered the entire dish. While I don’t mind some cilantro on my food, this was a bit overpowering and I ended up removing about half of it before I shoveled the entire meal down my throat. The soup side was good, a simple vegetable or chicken broth with a lot of dry spices floating around and some vegetables and one piece of chicken. Art later said that the last time he ordered it, the main dish was so spicy he couldn’t tolerate the heat from the soup so he never got around to finishing it. While tonight’s dish was spicy, I did have to add a ton of Sriracha to kick it up to a point that made me sweat enough for my liking. There were a multitude of Thai peppers in the dish and by the time I neared the end of my meal, my nose was running and my mouth was burning a bit. Art was right, they know how to make it spicy and I would rate them about a 3/5 on the spice scale which is a step above the average for what I typically receive in town when I ask for it super spicy. The only Thai restaurant that I have been to recently that serves it hotter on a first visit (before they know you aren’t kidding about how hot you want it or without me asking for more spice) would be Magic Thai in Eagan.
While I probably won’t make this a regular stop on my South Metro Thai food list, I do believe that they are putting out some decent Thai food here with extra large poritions. Taste of Thaiyai is somewhere that I definitely recommend you go if you’re looking for a large and varied menu to satisfy everyone’s different tastes. The service was excellent and when we asked them to split the bill they did without flinching. They kept our water pitchers full (which is nice when you’re eating your Sriracha with a little food on the side heh) and didn’t try to rush us out the door as we sat and chatted for nearly an hour after we finished up.
The price of our meal (two entrees and two appetizers) was just under $35 after tax and tip but fits in with the rest of the South Metro’s Thai prices quite well. I call this a pretty decent value for the size portions you get and the nice way that the food is presented. There was plenty of rice, vegetables, and I really liked the fact that mine came with a side of soup. Very nice touches and all well worth the cost.
So, if you’ve tried the other Thai restaurants in town and are looking for a big menu with big portions, I suggest you check out Taste of Thaiyai but I will admit that if you’re looking for something a little fancier that may have a more compact menu, there are a number of other local Thai restaurants that you might want to check out first.
So, have you eaten at Taste of Thaiyai in Apple Valley? What did you think of it? Comment on, I’d love to hear what you have to say!
Taste of Thaiyai
7705 147th St W
Apple Valley, MN 55124
Check out all the pictures from Apple Valley’s Taste of Thaiyai on Flickr here.