BEST REBIRTH Minneapolis 2001 - Royal Orchid
Pat Sukhtipyaroge always seemed forlorn in Royal Orchid's dingy old Nicollet Avenue location, and no amount of critical praise or loyal customer applause could really make him smile: The actual building had intractable problems, the block seemed forever on the wane, the unlucky aberration in a world of gentrification. He closed the old place down. Fast-forward two years, and Pat Sukhtipyaroge and his sister Nida have set up shop in a spiffy, spic-and-span Roseville mall, and the world has beat a path to their door. Recent visits found happy Rosevilleans mobbing the tables, demanding more, more, more! of Royal Orchid's signature lime-accented pad thai (from $8.99), fried rice with fresh pineapple served in a fresh pineapple shell ($9.49), and delicate coconut-galangal tom yum soup (from $8.99 for a tureen). It was great to see all those dishes come back, but even more gratifying to see Pat Sukhtipyaroge emerge from the kitchen later in the evening and roam from table to table, greeting old friends, grinning ear to ear.