On’s Thai Kitchen
Located in Midway on University Avenue, On’s Thai Kitchen always makes it onto my list of top 10 favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities. There are many excellent choices for Thai cuisine in my hometown, but none transport me to Thailand quite like On’s. The 105-item menu has many recognizable standbys like fresh herby spring rolls and panang curry—both of which are the best versions I’ve eaten in Minnesota—but what makes this place special are the hard-to-find authentic dishes of chef-owner On Khumchaya’s childhood. Thankfully she doesn’t cater to the Midwestern palate, so take heed of that little red chile pepper symbol on the menu, it means serious business. To start, order the meing-kum—a build-your-own lettuce wrap appetizer with dried shrimp, lime, peanuts, spicy thai chiles, roasted coconut, red onion and ginger, served with a slightly sweet and salty dipping sauce. I would also recommend any and all of the soups—beef noodle soup, the curry- and coconut-infused kao-poon-gai and the traditional tom yum are all favorites. Khumchaya is particularly skilled with Thai seafood dishes. Tilapia, either steamed and served with an aromatic spicy-sour soup or deep fried and topped with a tangy sauce, is always a winner, as is the stir-fried soft shell crab in yellow curry and the haw-mok, a steamed fish custard wrapped in banana leaf. Honestly, you could close your eyes and pick a dish at random off the menu, and I guarantee you’d be blown away. If you take your food to go, then you’ll miss the warmth and hospitality from On Khumchaya herself, whose artful wok cookery can be seen and heard from the dining room and who often proudly delivers the masterpieces to the table herself.
1613 University Ave
St. Paul, MN 55104
Photograph from On’s Thai Kitchen.