Saturday, April 25, 2009

SEN YAI SEN LEK – Minneapolis

Sen Yai Sen Lek (Big Noodle, Little Noodle) is one of many reasonably priced ethnic eateries in an area of Northeast Minneapolis experiencing an exciting turn-around. This 2-room dining space with red walls and high ceilings is busy & loud. So loud, it makes conversation difficult. Ty & I found this fairly new eatery focusing on street food found in Bangkok filled with a diverse mix of diners.

The menu read well; we decided to share several dishes. Our first starter was Tod Mun – a threesome of lightly breaded fish cakes with kaffir lime leaves and a peanut cucumber relish. The only time kaffir leaves are eaten is when they are added to Tod Mun. The cakes had great flavor but a bit too chewy. Our second starter was Gai Satay – 5 skewers of grilled chicken breast. The cucumber salad was excellent; the accompanying peanut sauce was bland. The satay was served with toast points… not necessary.

For dinner, our first entrée was the Nuea Yang Naam Tok – a marinated, thin sliced, slightly pink steak garnished with bits of green onion, cilantro, toasted rice powder (yumm!) and mint. The marinade of fish sauce, tamarind, lime juice & Thai chilis add incredible flavor to the beef. The steak is served over mixed baby greens. The small serving was delicious! Our next choice was Pad Tee Mao (also known as Drunken Noodles) – stir fried wide, flat rice noodles, thin slices of pork, Thai chilis, Thai basil, minced garlic, tidbits of tomato and white onion. The sauce dripping from these fat noodles generally includes fish sauce, black soy, and a bit of sugar. Fantastic!

When the entrees were served, I believe it was one of the owners that came to our table and explained the 4 condiments and suggested what went with each of our dishes. I noticed this visit was made to most tables near us. Sen Yai Sen Lek lets the diner add his or her own “heat” to the dish. My favorite was the crushed red pepper and vinegar sauce! A few drizzles go a long way.

Wine and beer are served, as well as bottles of Boylan soda and imported Mexican Coca Cola. No Coke or Pepsi products will be found at Sen Yai Sen Lek.

The service was not what I expected. We repeatedly needed to catch our server to ask for replacement silverware that left with a finished dish, small plates to share our dishes, water and soda refills. It really took too much effort. The best option maybe to call ahead and get your food to go.

Mmm, Mmm…


$ 10
$$ 20
$$$ 30
$$$$ 40+

+ Stop bothering me!
++ Anyone here?
+++ Stopped when in the area.
++++ As needed and friendly.
+++++ Invisibly perfect!

✦ “One visit too many!”
✦✦ “Convince me!”
✦✦✦ “I’ll be back!”
✦✦✦✦ “Same table next week!”

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