Sen Yai Sen Lek: Good food & business practices

By Jenny Ledig

Sen Yai Sen Lek is a great place to eat good food and feel good doing it. The family owned restaurant places a strong emphasis on sustainability; they try to utilize local ingredients when possible and Eureka composts the leftovers. Little cards on the table explain where most of their food comes from; for example, the eggs are delivered directly by a local farmer. The restaurant can accommodate almost any group; the dishes are easily modified to suit vegetarians, vegans and celiac diners. Considering all this, it’s no surprise that it was voted best Thai restaurant in the 2010 City Pages. There are a variety of noodle, rice and sticky rice dishes to choose from. I ordered the delicious pad see iew gai, which is a stir-fry with wide noodles, egg, sweet soy sauce, Chinese broccoli and chicken. It was a generous serving and really tasty; I had never tried Chinese broccoli and I thought it was great. Rachel Oldfather ’13 enjoyed the same dish but substituted mock duck for chicken. Hannah Van Den Brandt ’13 tried the pad kee meow, another wide noodle stir-fry with Thai chilies, Thai basil, tomato, garlic and onion and substituted tofu for chicken or pork that it normally comes with. She was looking for hearty dish with a lot of vegetables, so the waiter recommended adding more veggies for just $1, which turned out to be a good solution.

The food is intentionally mild, since “at Bangkok’s street side noodle and rice stands, spice is typically added to dishes according to individual preference at the table (and by you).” The seasonings to make your dish sweeter hotter or spicier are: Thai chilies in fish sauce, jalapenos in vinegar, sugar and plain dried chili flakes. It’s a nice touch and shows again that Sen Yai Sen Lek is a great place that can accommodate everyone: from those with low spice tolerance to those looking to wake up their taste buds.

I loved the ambience at Sen Yai Sen Lek; it has cozy booths, origami paper cranes hanging from the ceiling, striking black and white photographs on the wall, soft lighting from paper lanterns and even a bar and lounge with couches. The wait staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and helped you customize your meal. Most of the appetizers are about $6 and the entrees range from $10 to $14 depending on the protein, which might be a stretch on a college kid budget, but after taking their business practices into account I was happy to pay. The one downside is the location; located on Central Avenue in Minneapolis, it’s about nine miles away, but could take over an hour to get there by public transit. This restaurant would be the perfect place for Mac kids, if only it were a bit closer to campus.

2422 Central Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Closed Sundays