Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sen Yai Sen Lek

Visited on Saturday, January 16th with Kate and Kyle

Sen Yai Sen Lek

Erin's Review
Since we were taking Kyle and Kate out for dinner, it seemed only appropriate to choose a place in their neck of the woods. Getting them out of northeast CAN be a challenge ;) There are a number of places I want to try in the area, but most I'd like to try when I can actually drink again - Thai places are great for not causing me to crave beer or wine at all, so that's why I went with Sen Yai Sen Lek. Even though they don't have cream cheese wontons! Somehow I survived... :)

We got to the restaurant a few minutes late, and thanks to the iPhone, discovered that Kate and Kyle were already in the bar area, which was pretty deserted. The restaurant is split into two distinct rooms, which would make it kind of nice to rent out for a party, if they do that kind of thing.

Inside Sen Yai Sen Lek

After waiting just a minute, we were seated in a booth - the booth seemed small and uncomfortable to me, but I think that has more to do with being 8.5 months pregnant and less to do with the actual booth... The decor of the restaurant was pretty minimal, but nice.

We quickly ordered, and I got the Pad See Iew Gai. Our food came out relatively quickly, starting with the chicken satay appetizer, which was pretty good. The toast points that it was served with were a little odd to me, but whatever. I really enjoyed my Pad See Iew - it was big enough for 2 meals, and had good flavor. Kyle's dish, which was some kind of spicy pork dish, was also very tasty.

Pad See Iew Gai

Sen Yai Sen Lek is fairly similar to a lot of Thai places around the Twin Cities, but what sets them apart slightly is their commitment to sourcing local ingredients and using environmentally friendly practices such as composting leftovers and garbage when possible. It is a very cozy and casual restaurant - check it out if you are in Northeast!

Ben's Review
We went to Sen Yai Sen Lek with Kate and Kyle last Saturday after a day spent making freezer meals in prep for the baby coming. You would think that I chose the spot, since this is a Thai place, but this was actually Erin's choice(!). Obviously I had no problem with it, so we headed over to NE Mpls around 6:30 or so.

We arrived and Erin put our names on the list and was told it would be about fifteen minutes. We whipped out our iPhones to check for important updates in the last 20 minutes of our lives and discovered that Kate and Kyle were already there, sitting at the bar. From twitter. FML.

We walked over to the bar (twenty feet away) and almost had time to order a drink before they came and got us for our table, as Kate and Kyle had already put their names on the list. We got a booth near the front of the restaurant, right behind the host's station. I had seen a Flat Earth brew on tap and I was hoping it was the winter warlock, but it was the Belgian pale ale, so I went with a Surly bender that was on tap. I usually can't pull myself away from the Furious, so I was glad to be forced into the bender this night.

Inside Sen Yai Sen Lek

I was tempted to try the Laab Gai (a spicy Isaan salad) that had been recommended to me, but the Ba Mee Haeng was calling out to me, which is described as "Thin egg noodles served with barbecue pork, lettuce, fried garlic, bean sprouts and cilantro". We also ordered chicken skewers for the table as an appetizer.

The skewers came out relatively quickly and with an unusual side of toast for everyone. The skewers were great with the peanut sauce and I was also glad that there were four of them, it always confuses me when places have three, five, or six pieces for an appetizer as it doesn't split very well (hell, three and five are prime numbers!).

Gai Satay

Our entrees came out without too much wait from our friendly server along with someone else who I'm pretty sure was the owner, judging by the picture on their website. If it was indeed him that's cool, as it appeared he was also cooking as well. My dish, while tasty, was difficult to eat as the noodles were very thin and it was tough to get them along with the rest of the dish onto my fork. I really liked the lettuce in the dish, it reminded me of a vermicelli salad at a place like Quang. The pork was described as barbecue but I didn't really get any barbecue flavor from the pork.

Ba Mee Haeng

Towards the end of the meal we got to watch the spectacle of another patron getting an entire pint of beer spilled all over his shirt and pants and he raced to the bathroom to salvage what he could. I always feel bad for the server and the "victim" but it's still funny regardless. It would have been better if it had been someone on a date :)

We skipped dessert to head over to Wilde Roast for coffee and cheesecake (REALLY good). I think we'll be heading back to Sen Yai Sen Lek in the future though, there are more items I'd like to try.
  • Service: Our service was great, between our server and the owner/food runner.
  • Food: Tasty food and locally sourced/organic ingredients are used where they can.
  • Drinks: They have a good beer/wine list that has something for everyone and a selection of Thai beers as well.
  • Ambiance: The website describes this as a family restaurant and I got that impression while we were there. We saw several children and babies and nobody seemed to mind, I liked it.
  • Price: The prices are right on par with most other Thai places, with the added advantage of having local/organic ingredients.
  • Convenience: They are located at Central & 24th Ave NE. No parking lot so you have to park on a side street or take one of the buses up Central.
Sen Yai Sen Lek
2422 Central Ave NE