Restaurant Review: Sabbai Cuisine

By Emma Melling

Emma is a senior staff writer and editor-in-chief of the Talon. She is passionate about journalism, writing, literature, and French. Emma plans to attend Bethel University in the fall and double major in English and Journalism. She enjoys writing features on arts and human interest topics and loves listening to people's stories. Her hobbies include reading, hiking and spending time with family.

Posted: April 12, 2016

The first thing noticed is the sound of a sizzling griddle, the scent of clove, red pepper, ginger, garlic. What makes Midtown Global Market unique is the way multitudes of different shops can come together in one place, yet each restaurant still has its own atmosphere and presence.

The same is true of Sabbai Cuisine, a Cambodian and Thai restaurant that was recently added to Midtown Global Market on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Sabbai Cuisine specializes in the use of a variety of Cambodian and Thai spices, such as cinnamon, turmeric, galangal, shallots, lemongrass, cilantro, and kroeung, a special spice blend.

The bold flavors of these spices make an appearance in Sabbai’s Chicken Pad Thai ($8.99), a hearty dish of rice noodles made to order with strips of chicken, carrots and cabbage. When the first bite reaches your mouth, a hint of sweetness spreads across your tongue followed by the heat of the spice hitting your lips. Noodles are soft and perfectly cooked, complemented by the crunch of raw bean sprouts and peanuts.

Sabbai's Chicken Pad Thai, a spicy combination of rice noodles, carrots, chicken, cabbage and peanuts.

Sabbai’s Chicken Pad Thai, a spicy combination of rice noodles, carrots, chicken, cabbage and peanuts.

If the heat of this dish is too strong, Thai Tea ($3.79), classically brewed from Ceylon tea leaves, is a soothing blend of creamy and sweet. Velvety in texture, this iced drink has a strong syrupy flavor and a hint of a smoky aftertaste. Though enjoyable at first, the tea quickly became overwhelmingly rich, so much so that I threw it away after drinking half of the cup.

As the sweetness of Thai tea overcame me, I headed back to the cash register to purchase a bottle of water. The cashier was a kind man who seemed to know I was new to the type of food served at Sabbai, and he offered me a bottle of water on the house. Impressed by his kindness, I smiled, watching as the rest of the staff worked together to efficiently cook customer’s meals, all of which were made to order.

Back at my seat, I dug into Sabbai’s Chicken Fried Rice ($8.49), a comforting and filling dish. This meal is an excellent choice for those who want a less risky, spicy or sweet option. The rice comes in a good sized portion, with peas and carrots adding a hint of freshness to the hearty flavor of dark meat chicken and a subtle crunch to the otherwise soft rice.

SabbaiCuisineEmma_02 WEBcopy

Sitting outside of Sabbai Cuisine, alternating between forkfuls of rice and spicy noodles, observing the people passing by is a moment of simplicity in a busy market atmosphere. Not only was the food at Sabbai flavorful and bold, the staff was friendly and welcoming, even to those unfamiliar with Cambodian or Thai food. With this atmosphere, Sabbai seemed to attract a variety of customers, from regular diners to newcomers. In line, I began a conversation with another woman who was also trying Sabbai for the first time and was excited to experience the tastes of a different culture.

Though the Cambodian and Thai flavors at Sabbai were daring at times, walking away from the restaurant left the satisfaction of having tried something new and having been immersed in a different world, if only for a moment.

You may also like…

Consumerism’s dangers and “rewards” programs

Coffee drinkers may not be saving as much as they hope If you think you have enough money to get Starbucks every day and avoid unnecessary advertisements, you’re in for a surprise. Starbucks, however, would like nothing more than to keep you — and your wallet — away...

A new era for girls basketball

New coach brings different philosophy A warm salty drop of sweat falls from your drenched forehead as you are catching your breath. You place your hands on your knees as you watch your legs tremble with aching pain. Just as you regain your strength you hear the...

History and film: fact or fiction

Is the screen an adequate medium for depicting the events of history?    This October, highly-esteemed director Martin Scorsese released a must-see historical spectacle, and the latest addition to his filmmaking oeuvre — Killers of the Flower Moon. Killers of the...

Money and Sports: Sports Gambling Increase

“It came down to the very last play of the game,” said the Sophomore passionately. “I couldn’t stand still. They had to win.” The fifteen-year-old ended up winning 1500 dollars. The winter sports season is now in full swing and engulfing the halls of Minnehaha Academy...

Screen time: educational vs. recreational

How much is too much? Does it even matter? Tick tock, the clock strikes one through twelve, but on TikTok, the clock doesn't stop. Wake up, turn off your alarm, check the time, and swipe throughyour notifications. Get up, go to school or work, and look at some sort of...