We’re hopelessly hooked on Thai food.

And we miss our favorite remedy for a tired Friday evening, take-out from Bangkok Thai Deli, hidden inside a nondescript Asian grocery store in St. Paul’s Frogtown.

While we were home during Thanksgiving, we indulged in Jake’s favorite peanuty Pad Thai and spicy seafood curry.  I still think about the chewy strip of coconut rice we shared, freshly hacked from a bamboo tube with a cleaver.

One of the first questions to which we sought answers when we moved to Fargo was where to go for Thai food.  Several individuals suggested Thai Leela, the first Thai restaurant in North Dakota.

Our initial visit occurred soon after we moved, when we were living amongst mountains of boxes.  We chose the usual Pad Thai with chicken, but ordering the next two dishes proved to be challenging.  I was informed the online menu was outdated and the items I requested were no longer offered, including a mock duck stir fry with Thai basil.

“Is Thai basil different than regular basil?” asked the employee.  I settled for any type of spicy stir fry with tofu and vegetables.  We also ordered the Black Pepper Garlic Saute with Beef, extra spicy.

As we paid our tally, the employee enthusiastically repeated “It’s going to be so damn good!”
Jake declared the Pad Thai (bottom left) his second favorite rendition.


This version of Pad Thai was not over-dressed in sauce.  Even better, the sauce was not too sweet and the dish contained pleasing amounts of green onion, chicken, and scrambled egg.

The Black Pepper Garlic Saute with Beef (upper right) and fried tofu stir fry (below) were also nicely flavored.  To my delight, the tofu stir fry did, indeed, include Thai Basil.

We enjoyed the freshness of the vegetables and minced garlic in the beef, though neither dish was especially spicy.  The sauces tasted of savory umami, but lacked the fish sauce flavor or fermented funkiness we have grown to love.

Leela Thai: Take Two
The Thai food craving hit more recently, so we returned to Leela Thai.  I inquired about some kind of spicy stir fry with mixed meats.  A slight language barrier, combined with my surrounding acoustics at Target complicated the process.  Therefore, when the employee suggested a dish, I replied “ok.”  Our tally before tip was $24.73.

Over time, Jake has grown accustomed to the following conversation:

Jake: “What did you order?”
Jeni:  “I don’t know.”

Another variation:

Jake: “What did you order?”
Jeni:  “Blank
Jake: What’s in “Blank?”
Jeni: “I don’t know.”

This happens often; sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

The Pad Thai with chicken was less appealing than our first visit as it lacked tangy sauce and the noodles looked and tasted anemic.  I dearly missed the scorching kiss of wok breath that makes stir fry dishes so compelling.

The seafood curry was more flavorful.

Similar to the stir fry dishes from our last visit, the light sauce tasted wonderfully savory.  I had requested the dish extra spicy (emphasis on extra spicy), with a result that was spicier and funkier than our first visit.  However, it still wasn’t as spicy as I had hoped.

The vegetables were fresh, the squid was tender, and the shrimp were snappy.  My least favorite part of the dish were the mussels on the half shell which tasted dry and chewy.  I don’t play mussel roulette.

The seafood curry equalled two small servings with no hope for seconds.  I realize seafood is an expensive protein choice, but would have loved to eat more filler vegetables.

Our takeout box of rice was loosely packed and partially filled (or partially empty).  You decide.

In conclusion, we were more satisfied with our first visit to Thai Leela.

I’m not in love with Thai Leela, but certainly would not necessarily remove it from our rotation.  Though, we’d also like to return to Samurai and try the Thai restaurant in Moorhead.

Leela Thai Cuisine
1450 25th Street SW
Fargo, ND