Tucked in the back of a large warehouse-turned-bazaar are several excellent Southeast Asian eateries all boasting authentic flavor, excellent quality, and agreeable prices. Tops on the list is MT Foods and its huge golden chicken wings stuffed with cellophane noodles (two for $3). MT also makes a snappy green papaya salad featuring homemade fish sauce that is as delicious as it is inexpensive ($5). Next door at HER-Kitchen, the pho—the national dish of Vietnam—is excellent. The large bowl of star anise- and onion-spiced broth is filled with tender beef, rice noodles, and just enough mint to make it haunting ($5). It seems that nearly every one of the shops serving food here makes larb, a Laotian specialty that features chopped beef, lots of lime and mint, and fish sauce. The version at Thai-Esan Cuisine ($5) has tripe as well, which adds an excellent texture to the dish. If you get the itch to make some traditional dishes yourself, there is a large grocery store in the building that is appropriately named Super Foods. But for $5, it will be hard to mimic these cheap eats.
630 Pierce Butler Route, St. Paul