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Naviya’s Kalico Elephant

A Thai fine-dining restaurant gets a blue-collar cousin

Naviya’s Kalico Elephant
Photo by Terry Brennan

When Naviya’s Thai Kitchen opened on Penn Avenue in Richfield in 2007, many diners immediately crowned it the best Thai restaurant in the metro. Others got sticker-shock: $8 for spring rolls? The best sure was pricey.

Well, budget-gourmets, your day has come! Naviya’s has opened a second restaurant designed as the blue-collar alternative to their fine-dining original. It’s called Naviya’s Kalico Elephant, and it’s in the old Ketsana’s spot on Lyndale Avenue, just north of I-494. [EDITOR'S NOTE: This address now hosts Joy's Pattaya Thai Restaurant, under different management.]

Where to start? How about with the garlic rice, a classic Bangkok street food made by boiling chicken, then serving it with rice that’s been stir-fried with lots of garlic and cooked with the chicken broth. On the side, there’s fresh garlic sauce made with ginger, chilies, fermented soybeans, fresh lime juice, and cilantro. You dip the chicken in the sauce and chase it with a little of the savory rice, you come to understand why this is the basic street food of Thailand, the pizza slice of Bangkok. It’s delicious, zesty, wholesome, and interesting: something you could eat every day and still crave when it’s not around. (You can also get it with grilled or fried chicken, or pork, though the sauce shows up better with the traditional boiled chicken.)

The red curry is also excellent. It’s steamy, smoky, lightly fiery, and manages to wrestle beef, basil, coconut milk, and bamboo strips into a moment of complicated bliss, the way that only the greatest curries can. I didn’t think much of the Kalico Elephant’s pad Thai (it was more like a saucy stir-fry), but almost everything else that I tried was memorably good.

One warning: Don’t go in hoping for a beer. Owner Kim LaBarge says he applied for a liquor license only to learn that Richfield had changed its laws. Now liquor licenses will be granted only to restaurants in properties valued at $600,000 or more. So much for Richfield’s burgeoning Thai restaurant scene: LaBarge vows that the next Naviya’s—and there will be more—will be in another city.

7545 Lyndale Ave. S., Richfield, 612-866-0660 » naviyasthaikitchen.us


Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Oct 3, 2008 06:32 pm
 Posted by  nigel

This is without question one of the best restaurants anywhere at any price. The food is amazing and the service is authentic and outstanding. I have been a consultant for about 12 years for some area restaurants in Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Brussels and Saigon so I think I have a small bit of expertise. One of the best things about Naviya's on Lyndale is that you can try a different dish and never have to worry about getting a bad dish. I really can't say enough good things about this restaurant. I just wish I was part owner so I could eat for free!! Keep up the good work everyone. That includes the cooks Ta and Da the owner/staff Ananya and Tom and Ananya's sister (newly arrived from Bangkok) Nok.

Aug 18, 2009 02:29 pm
 Posted by  Dara

As of Aug 3, 2009 this place is gone—the location now hosts a new Thai place called Joy's Pataya Thai, under different management.

Owners Kim & Naviya LaBarge from Naviya’s Kalico Elephant will be opening a new restaurant in 2010 called The Kalico Elephant, location TBD.

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