Krungthep Thai is already beloved. As the new Minneapolis outpost of the discreet and tiny Bangkok Thai Deli in St. Paul, it was born under the banner of some pretty high standards and a passionate following.
The restaurant’s name seems sneaky and unrelated to Bangkok Deli The First. But Krung Thep is actually just another name for Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. The new (and much larger) location occupies the late Seafood Palace on Nicollet, and while the lobby window remains emblazoned with Seafood Palace insignia, the quiet customer commentary will tell you it’s anything but. On a Tuesday afternoon the most commonly overheard sigh and sentiment from the lunchtime crowd was, “We’re so glad you guys came to Minneapolis!”
The menu at Krungthep mirrors that of the original, but has more daily seafood specials, including lobster, scallops, and numerous fish. Both the Nam Tok and Tom Yum at Bangkok Deli are famous on Yelp, and Krungthep’s versions prove the rumors true. This food delivers flavor like a sock in the face.
The Nam Tok ($8) is a salad of marinated, sliced beef that practically oozes fresh, green flavor. A confetti of mint, green onion, cilantro, and rice powder (toasted and coarsely ground white rice) coat every bite, and the overwhelming spunk of lemongrass and lime will keep you smacking and marveling. Not a moment of this dish is bland.
Krungthep’s Tom Yum ($10) soup has a similar welcome pungency. Straw mushrooms, whole chilies, and shrimp (if you choose) accent the hot and citrusy broth. The only mildly uncomfortable part is the large slices of bitter galangal and sharp stalks of lemongrass that swim onto your spoon. Nevertheless, their presence gives the soup its undeniable flair.
The Green Curry ($8) is delicious and huge. Like every other entrée on the menu, one serving could easily feed three. Generous ribbons of basil, fresh jalapeno, and smooth, snappy chunks of eggplant and green and red peppers make up a chewy bowl of warmth.
The Spring Rolls ($3) are good and fresh, and the Papaya Salad ($7) is also a winner. The gentle pine of the green papaya and the grassiness of fresh green beans ride a bass line of toasty chopped peanuts and tangy tomatoes. It’s a dark and chewy coleslaw for winter.
Of course the Thai newbie’s favorite, Pad Thai ($8), is good enough, piled with peanuts and thick hunks of green onions that give the dish a spark of freshness. However, the noodles were pretty greasy on our visit, and overall the plate lacks the spunk and citrusy verve of the other dishes we tried.
Regardless, Krungthep Thai is the place to bring your friends who already have it all — the hard-to-please ones who made Pad Thai at home when they were, like, 12. 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.
Thai Food on Eat Street
2523 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404
OWNER: Glen Yam Phong Ngam
BAR: Liquor license in the works
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: Yes / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
AVERAGE ENTREE: $5-12, including soups and salads