Monday, August 20, 2012

Magic Thai – Eagan, MN

I have friends that are scared to recommend places to me for fear that I won’t like the restaurant and they’ll forever be heckled on the internet by my review of their favorite places. Rug wasn’t scared though – he just layed it out there: his favorite lunchtime Thai restaurant is Magic Thai in Eagan. He even told me what he usually orders.

I went to check it out since Wednesday Food Truck day got cancelled. It’s in a strip mall next to a Montessori school, and really easy to find, just off 35E. I read online that they had a buffet, so I thought I’d check that out, even though Rug recommended something specific. I like to get a feel for a lot of things on the menu without having to take a gamble on one meal. I took a look at the buffet to make sure I would like at least one thing on it and decided to go for it.

The inside is sparsely decorated with some Thai wall hangings and there are more seats than I assumed from the front of the building. The buffet is really small. It’s got 4 or 5 entrees on it, fried and white rice, cream cheese wontons and fried egg rolls, and sweet and sour chicken. There’s a small table with Thai chicken salad against one wall, and another small buffet area with cookies, honeydew, and a crock of chicken noodle (this changes daily) soup. Not a huge amount to choose from, but I wasn’t’ going to starve or anything. In fact, I could eat anything on the buffet – and I did.

Here’s what I got for round 1

The cream cheese wontons were shaped more like a square pocket than a puff. They were really flat and didn’t look like they contained much cream cheese. The amount that was in there was about the bottom limit of what many would consider appropriate. But how much do you really need in there? It’s an appetizer, right? There just seemed to be a high fried-wrapper to cream cheese ratio. All I tasted was “fried” – which thankfully I’m alright with. I know people that would have issues with it. It was fried to the point of chewy in a lot of places, but I still thought they were acceptable.

The fried egg rolls were really good. Surprisingly so. They’re skinny, but they seem to have plenty of glass noodles and cabbage in them. I’m pretty sure these were vegetarian as well (didn’t ask). I really liked the crunch on these and they weren’t greasy at all, which was nice.

The chicken drummy was gristly, but had a super good fry on it. The flavor part was good, the crunch part was good, but there was some part of bone or cartilage that I didn’t recognize. Good flavor, bad texture.

The Red Curry Pork was the winner of the day. Absolutely delicious flavor and plenty of heat with it. I’m bummed that it didn’t have more than 2 small pieces of pork in it, the rest was bamboo shoots and mostly onions. But the flavor was so good, I kept getting more just so I could have the curry liquid with my rice. Delicious!

The Beef and Broccoli was also really quite good. More spicy than I’ve ever had it before, especially on a buffet. Again, very few pieces of meat in the dish, but when one of four bites did get meat, it was delicious. Very good quality ingredients and the veggies seemed fresh.

One of the different things on the menu than what I’m used to was something called Pad Gratium Prig Thai Chicken – chicken and garlic with black pepper and steamed vegetables. This was spicy as well, but so flavorful, even after I picked out most of the onions. I really liked this one, as well. Again, it could have used more pieces of chicken, but the flavor kept me coming back for more.

The veggie lomein was even better than the average stuff. I wasn’t expecting much from it, but the veggies were good and fresh. I originally took it as filler to go along side my fried rice (which was also good), but it really does stand on its own as a dish, despite the lots of onions (sense a pattern here?).

On the table by itself was something labeled Thai Chicken Salad. I took a trial sized portion of it, not knowing what flavors to expect. I went back for more. It was cold, which I wasn’t expecting. It was also very bright and vibrant, like the inside of a fresh spring roll. Cucumbers, mint, cabbage, and of course, onions.

I went back for more of everything!

And then a third time!

Each time I finished a plate, I had a huge portion of onions left on my plate. Enough to cover the entire bottom of the plate. There are soooo many onions. Thankfully, they’re all large enough pieces I can pick them out. I don’t mind the flavor of onions, but they don’t agree with my insides, so I have to seriously limit the amount I eat. This amount probably would have killed me before I made it out to the car.

The owner of the place, a really nice short fun lady, ran around and made sure people had their orders and full water glasses. She remembered everyone that came in there, what they usually order, where they sat the last time, everything. She’s quite impressive and takes pride in her restaurant. The cook in the back was a fully made-up and fancy pretty Asian lady, even though she was slaving away over stoves and grills! I was impressed.

I think vegetarians might have a tough time here. Even though there was VERY little meat in the dishes, most of them were cooked with meat (except the veggie lomein). If you’re the kind of vegetarian who can pick meat out and still be alright, you’ll do just fine here. Especially if you like onions.

The price is right, as well. $8.45 for the buffet ($9.05 with tax). I know Rug told me to get the #35 – the Prik Pow with Basil, but I’ll consider getting it next time. That is, if I don’t order the Red Curry Pork. That’s going to be a tough call. It isn't my favorite Thai place in the Twin Cities, but it is definitely on the higher end of the scale. I’ll be back here for sure. Thanks for the recommendation, Rug!

Top 5 things about Magic Thai
1. Red Curry Pork
2. Awesome spice/heat level – absolutely perfect
3. Pad Gratium Prig Thai Chicken
4. Fried Spring Rolls
5. Thai Chicken Salad

Bottom 5 things
1. Serious overabundance of onions in almost everything
2. Small buffet selection
3. Lack of meat in dishes
4. Super flat cream cheese wontons
5. Gristly chicken drumstick

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