In this difficult economy I am always impressed by the dedication and drive of the many small business owners in our area. Even though it may mean long hours, few days off, and small profits (if any), they are there day after day to fill customer needs, keep their businesses viable, and they do it with a smile.
This was especially evident when I dropped into the Thai Grocery and Deli on Arcade Street in St. Paul to sample their deli/eat-in menu. It was a cold, dreary day, but we were welcomed with big smiles and a multitude of suggestions for a hot, satisfying lunch.
Starting with a big bowl of Egg Drop Soup, the steaming rich broth made winter seem less harsh. We followed with the freshest Spring Rolls filled with soft noodles and crunchy vegetables served with a slightly hot rice vinegar dipping sauce…truly a salad in a wrapper with a light, spicy dressing. Next came nicely stir-fried Pad Thai and a very tasty Vegetable Curry. In addition to the fresh broccoli, Thai eggplant, and bell peppers, the creamy coconut curry included noodle-like strips of bamboo shoots. With the texture of cabbage, the bamboo strips are a nice addition to the curry mixture.
It was all made to order by Chef/co-owner Thai Yang who learned his trade under a Thai master chef in California. He and wife/partner Mai Yang first opened a Thai market on Maryland Avenue in St. Paul. After several successful years, they looked for a location that offered them the ability to also cook and serve the foods they love. A year and a half ago, they moved to the Arcade Street location with its full kitchen and bright, dining area in the market that gives customers the choice of eating in or taking out this fresh, home cooked food. With Thai and Hmong backgrounds, the Yang’s feature Thai, Lao, and Hmong Phos, Larbs, Soups, Curries, Salads and more at very reasonable prices.
They make their own Thai sausage from pork and their own special seasoning blend. Steamed rice is served in the colorful baskets used in Thailand to keep the rice warm and moist. The Hmong influenced chicken noodle soup is a family favorite and Hmong Larbs offer the traditional dish of meat and vegetables with multiple textures. Bowls of Pho are flavorful, steaming broths filled with the meat or fowl of your choice with plenty of rice noodles and fresh greens to add as you choose for even more flavor and texture.
The Thai Grocery and Deli is open every day from 8 am – 9 pm at 1377 Arcade Street in St. Paul with free parking right at the door. For information call 651-7718201 or if you are looking for a fast food pick up that is truly fresh and good, call ahead to order deli takeout. The market features fresh produce, frozen meats, and a wide variety of canned, dried, and bottled Asian products. It also has selections of beer, cigarettes, and movie rentals…a sort of onestop Saturday night entertainment resource.
Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757