The King and I: Homestyle Thai on South Grand

 In City Guide, St Louis

A bowl of the Thai national dish, tom yum, is the best introduction to this remarkably long-lived and successful eatery. The soup’s flavors are a classic balance between hot and sour, and the rich bouquet of herbs—like cilantro, kaffir leaves, lemongrass and galangal—plus a dash of lime juice hint at the other main flavor building blocks in Thai cuisine: bitter, salty and sweet. Across a full meal at The King and I, expect to encounter all five flavors in curries, fried dishes and desserts.

When you’re ready to venture beyond pad thai, it’s a good idea (and also more authentic to Thai dining customs) to go with a group and order many dishes to share rather than trying to power through multiple courses of generous portions. The latter route leaves no room for dessert—and it would be a shame to miss out on the mango with sticky rice and coconut milk when it’s in season.

When The King & I opened, Thai food was a novelty, but the family-run business persevered, winning customers over through hard work and high quality. Today, owner Suchin Prapaisilp’s 38-year-old restaurant is part of a diverse portfolio that includes sushi and steak venues plus three international grocery stores. And his son, Shayn Prapaisilp, recently opened Chao Baan in The Grove to celebrate the fusion of Thai cusines the family eats at home.

3155 S. Grand Blvd.
314.771.1777

A version of this story originally appeared in fall 2017 in Guided: South Grand, available in a digital edition.

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