Tom Kha and Boat Noodle Soup at Pad Ga Pow
Downtown Minneapolis lunch-eaters, we have had a rough year, right? Nicollet Mall is an unprecedented disaster, we're losing Macy's with all its lunch options and no one cares about my brilliant replacement ideas, and also the cheeseburger is gone with the rest of Il Foro. And of course, we've got months before food truck season kicks off. Is there any hope?
Yes. We need to talk about Pad-Ga Pow, for I have unlocked its secrets. So with many skyway spots, the first issue is: Where is it? Imagine you're walking between Macy's and the CRAVE/Rockbottom Brewery on Hennepin. It's there, overlooking the stump end where LaSalle Ts into Macy's. The second issue is, more interestingly: Whose is it? Pad-Ga Pow is by Suthisa and Joel Krupinski, the daughter and son-in-law of the woman who opened cult-sensation On's Kitchen in St. Paul. They helped open On's and opened this, their own spot, last February.
Now, if you've been there and thought, you know, it's good, but it's just more steam table food like most of the Asian spots in the skyways, that's where my new tremendous insight comes in. Pad-Ga Pow does have pretty good steam table curries, but two months ago they debuted their full menu, and this is where the magic is. I bring you, the third issue: How to get great Thai food in downtown Minneapolis at lunch.
Step 1: Consider the menu from the comfort of your cubicle.
Step 2: Call in your order (612-332-0260), and tell them it's to eat there, not to-go.
Step 3: Leave your cubicle and stand in the line, pick up an extra order of spring-rolls if they've got them, pay, sit, feast.
What to get?
Tom Kha Soup at Pad-Ga Pow
Tom Kha Soup
The Tom Kha soup is a great choice. Creamy with coconut milk, tangy with lime juice, light and energetic, but also zingy with chunks of good fresh galangal—I think this is the best soup in the skyways right now. Don't miss it! The boat noodle soup was good and beefy, and the loops of fried pork skin that came as a garnish are stupendously delicious.
Shrimp Spring Roll at Pad Ga Pow
Fresh, light, packed with herbs—they come two to an order, and if you eat both, they're big enough for a light lunch in and of themselves, at $4.50.
Papaya Salad at Pad Ga Pow
I may as well admit it, I have turned into a full-throttle papaya salad snob. Pad-Ga Pow's is ground to order, and you can pick Lao-style (with more veggies and crab) or Thai-style (more purely papaya-focused, with shrimp). It's as bright and spicy and lively as any papaya salad you could wish for.
But that's not all! I was talking to co-owner Joel Krupinski and he told me that they're just now adding catering, so if you call them up and make a plan, they can get you two-dozen spring rolls to haul over to your Friday night pot luck, or a pan of red beef curry to get you through Valentine's Day. Who eats red curry for Valentine's Day? Beats me—but this Thai spot in the Minneapolis skyway is so good it will make you question all your prior habits.