Monday, February 25, 2013

ThanhDo Celebrates 13 Years of Thom Pham’s New Generation of Azian Cuisine

By Phyllis Louise Harris
February/March 2013

I remember when Thom Pham purchased Kowloon Chinese Restaurant across from the Texa- Tonka Shopping Center and turned it into a popular spot for his version of Asian fusion food.  At age 25, it was his first restaurant and he called it his “new generation of Azian cuisine.” It was the spring of 1999 and stepping into this bright, pleasant restaurant with its surprising menu promised a new look at the traditional food of the Asia Pacific Rim.  The restaurant was successful from day one and after a few years he moved it across the street into the shopping center, expanded the space and added a full service bar.

After delving into four other restaurant ideas Thom is back at ThanhDo creating even more Asian food surprises.   While his popular cranberry puffs with their spicy bit of chili are still on the menu, he is now working on additional fillings including salmon, bacon or crab.  He continues to take familiar foods and give them a taste twist.  Bow tie pasta leaves the Italian approach with flavors of peanut, coconut cream sauce and Sing Ha beer.  Tamarind and butter sauce provides a tangy contrast to the sweet meat of stir-fried lobster.  Walleye pan fried in a light breading is served on top of brown rice and vegetables, and then topped with Thom’s version of Asian black bean sauce.  Mussels broiled with galangal and basil broth bring Southeast Asian flavors to these sea creatures.  Traditional Maryland crab cakes move into the world of Asian flavors with green curry and fruit relish.

When Thom took over Kowloon he continued to carry some of the Chinese dishes that made the restaurant such a popular neighborhood spot for several decades.  The lunch menu still includes many of these favorites including chicken chow mein, sweet and sour chicken, and lemon chicken along with an assortment of Vietnamese and Southeast Asian favorites as well.  But, the rest of the menu is strictly Thom’s idea of blending flavors from around the world.

For the diner who still wants more familiar dishes with just a hint of Asian flavors there is still Thom’s treatment of slow-cooked pork spare ribs, Korean style short ribs and rack of lamb.

The menu pays tribute to Thom’s Grandma Bo who put him to work in her catering kitchen when he was six years old.  His first job was peeling carrots and from there he moved on to understand and cook the dishes of Vietnam.  As he grew older he would travel throughout Vietnam with his grandfather tasting new dishes in restaurants along the way then go home to Grandma Bo to try to recreate them.  When he came to Minnesota he continued to explore the food around him and broaden his recipe base with local and international ingredients.  His food has no culinary boundaries.  You may even see Thom visiting local restaurants where he continues to explore new flavor combinations.

ThanhDo opens at 11:00 am seven days a week and closes at 10:00 pm Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 pm Friday and Saturday.  It is at 8028 Minnetonka Boulevard, St. Louis Park, with free parking at the door.  Phone 952-935-5005.   Stop in soon and help Thom celebrate fourteen years of his “new generation of Azian cuisine” that brightens any cold winter day.  For additional information visit or visit them on facebook.

Read more about Asian traditions and celebrations in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on 

Buy online:  Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875