Roat Osha replaces Uptown Thai staple Sawatdee

Name translates to "food for a king"—so is it?

Among the overlapping dishes, a big, sharable bowl of the Thai soup Tom Kha Sot is one of the most memorable, and among the best cold-weather eats in town. The creamy, coconut-milk base smells a bit like ocean spray infused with the leafy perfume of a tropical jungle—kaffir lime, lemongrass, and galanga give it a citrusy, medicinal quality. The soup's green chiles sting like a winter chill, but it's the broth's tart tang that makes it nearly impossible to stop one spoonful from begetting another.

Roat Osha's main point of differentiation from Tum Rup, and from other local Thai spots, is its selection of seafood dishes. Somsap Hein serves a nice version of the Minnesota-Thai hybrid walleye green curry, a delicate fillet with a rich, spicy sauce and chunks of fresh pineapple. I also liked a dish of prawns and crab claws that had been stir-fried in a spice blend as sweet and warm as summer, which helped tie the subtle sea flavors to the bitter crunch of celery and greens.

When I ordered one of the new dishes, the seafood sukiyaki, my server paused, and then asked, in the way that Minnesotans like to skirt the edges of sensitive topics, "Do you eat Thai food a lot?" The sukiyaki was, she said, something of an acquired taste. I took her counsel as a challenge: Having eaten Thai food everywhere from a former diner in Richfield (the late, lamented Ketsana's) to a beachside bistro in Phuket (enduring scads of wrinkly Caucasian men talking baby-babble to their local "girlfriends")—I was as ready as anybody, right?

What's next, a pad Thai hot dish? Roat Osha's walleye green curry
Jana Freiband
What's next, a pad Thai hot dish? Roat Osha's walleye green curry

Location Info


Roat Osha

2650 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street


2650 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
612.377.4418appetizers $5-$12, entrées $10-$20

Yet none of those experiences prepared me for the musty red paste that topped a perfectly good bowl of seafood and noodles. (Somsap, apparently, grew up with this dish, so certainly she has a head start on me.) Perhaps someday I will appreciate its pungency, but at that moment its smell reminded me of kimchi and curdled milk, its flavor, a decaying gym sock. Only after dousing the noodles with the accompanying fiery, cilantro-laced broth was I able to mute the fermented flavor enough to enjoy the rest of the dish.

Roat Osha's dessert selection, like Tum Rup's, is rather limited, particularly when good mangos aren't available. And while the Thai custard—it resembles an eggy bread pudding with little hunks of squash—served with sticky rice and sweet coconut milk is good, it can't really compare to mango sticky rice. I preferred the sesame-flecked fried bananas, which were sweet and starchy, almost like a cake doughnut, though they might have paired better with a scoop of ice cream than the puddle of honey on the plate.

While the Sawatdee restaurants played an important role in familiarizing local palates with Thai cuisine, it seems today's diners are looking for something bolder. Like Tum Rup Thai, Roat Osha is moving toward this new style, perhaps more in terms of ambiance than flavors. Now that many Uptowners consider pad Thai comfort food, I hope Roat Osha will be encouraged to push its cooking even further. 

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