Thailand View (Shakopee, MN)
By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Thai food, like other cuisines from southeast Asia, uses a palette of ingredients to produce complex, highly flavored dishes. You'll want to share these dishes with your group. Note that, like most Americans, Thai don't use chopsticks, unless they are eating Chinese food.
We love the harmonies and balances of the sweet, salt, spicy, sour and bitter ingredients. Think lemongrass, ginger, garlic, cumin, sweet basil, mint, lime, peanuts, and turmeric. We've eaten too much Thai food that is inedibly hot, and are glad that the Thailand View kitchen is able to make things truly mild when requested.
Try the chicken or beef satay to start. These are marinated in coconut milk, grilled, and served with peanut sauce. The dumplings are tasty morsels. The spring rolls come in a generous portion of three, and are accented with cilantro. Everything comes with its own dipping sauce. Food arrives quickly, which is nice when you're very hungry.
Order a single soup to share. Split between four or five people, it's a perfect starter. Thailand View has two excellent soups. Tom Yum is made with lemongrass, lime, ginger, mushrooms, and chili. Tom Kha is similar, but with a base of coconut milk: it's not spicy. Soups are served in a clever self-heating ring-shaped tureen, a nice way to keep the large portion hot.
Most entrees are named for their primary flavor. The dish called "ginger," for example, comes with ginger, onions, bell pepper, celery, and mushroom. "Basil" has basil, onion, bell pepper and mushroom. There's also "Sweet and Sour," "Garlic," and so on. You'll chose from beef, chicken, shrimp, or tofu versions of these. Thai cooking generally uses meat as an accent rather than as the central ingredient in a dish.
Curries are a Thai staple. We liked the green curry, made with coconut milk, sweet basil, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, carrots, and broccoli.
And don't forget noodle dishes. Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand. It's a rice noodle dish with egg, scallions, tofu, peanuts, lime, and a distinctive sauce. Delicious!
Salads with a Thai twist are a treat. The Yum Thailand View, with lime juice, mint, onions, lettuce, and slices of marinated beef was a nice light accompaniment to the heavier dishes.
Dishes can be ordered at five different spice levels. We found the "mild" to be very bland, and the "medium" to be mildly spicy. "Hot" more spicy, but still enjoyable by everyone at the table. "Very hot" is only for those who know what they're getting themselves into, and there's "extra hot" after that.
Save room for dessert. Thailand View has the best desserts we've ever eaten at a Thai restaurant. Ice cream tempura is a large ball of vanilla ice cream coated in tempura batter and then flash fried. The fried bananas are coated in the same batter, and served with a generous dallop of vanilla ice cream. Even the mango with sticky rice was lovely, with fresh mango slices. One dessert for every two or three people should be more than enough.
Atmosphere: Pleasant and festive
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