We’re starting our full review of Lat14 with a quick geography lesson. Here are the three facts you’ll need to know:
Fact 1: The 14th parallel north or “Latitude 14” is 14 degrees north of the Earths’ equator.
Fact 2: Latitude 14 crosses through the countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Fact 3: Even though Lat14 Asian Eatery rests nearly perfect on the 45th parallel in the suburb of Golden Valley, it’s still one of the best places to discover the flavors of the 14th parallel in the Twin Cities Metro.
Here’s our full review:
The Back Story
Lat14 is the culinary brainchild of Executive Chef and owner Ann Ahmed. (You might recognize the name from our raving Khaluna review.) Anne’s family left Laos when she was a toddler and spent time in Thailand before moving to Minnesota. Her background was teaching, but Ahmed’s passion has always been food.
She opened her first restaurant in the Twin Cities in 2005 called Lemongrass, a popular Thai and sushi spot still hopping in Brooklyn Park.
Lat14 Asian Eatery is her second restaurant, opened with one goal in mind, to serve “the exciting and diverse flavors 14th parallel–without the long airplane trip.”
Our Full Review
One of the things I love most about Ahmed’s story is her pursuit of bold flavors where you might least expect it–the former location of a suburban Perkin’s restaurant. In 2018, she and her team did a complete overhaul of the site and, since then, continued to carefully craft a menu that draws praise year after year.
You’ll find the restaurant just 15-minute drive west of downtown Minneapolis and about 25 minutes from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The Vibe and Atmosphere
Stepping into Lat 14, it’s pretty clear they’ve upped the game of eating out in Golden Valley.
Vibes here are what you’d expect at downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul favorites. Open concept kitchen, sleek finishes, and subtle touches of Chef Ann Ahmed’s Southeast Asian roots. The Minneapolis-based design team at Shea knocked it out of the park, creating a space that’s equally fitting for a weeknight date or a long weekend brunch with the girls.
On our Thursday night reservation, we rolled into a full dining room and bar. We were seated along the large glass windows in the atrium space and pleasantly surprised at the quiet and cozy feel.
With menus on the table, we got right down to business…
From the long list of cocktails, specialty whiskeys, wine, sake, and NA options, we selected the VirGIN & Tonic and Sweater Weather.
Both were in good company on a menu with a combination of new flavors and what we’d describe as “house rules” on some of our favorite classics. Midwestern Old Fashioned with Japanese whiskey and palm syrup? Gin and tonic with papaya and grapefruit?
Their virGIN & Tonic was a favorite, along with the warm cinnamon flavors of the Harvest Moon, which also found its way to our table after dinner.
The menu at Lat14 can feel a bit overwhelming at first glance. There aren’t many choices, but the flavors on the menu all sounded so good!
So we opted for a mix of our waitstaff’s recommendations and some of our favorite Thai dishes.
Snow Crab Wonton Appetizer
We–along with every table around us–ordered the snow crab wontons for starters. The Lat14 signature app came out perfectly fried and served with a sweet chili sauce.
No chewy or doughy parts with cream cheese, and the snow crab filling doesn’t disappoint. It’s a bolder seafood-forward flavor than you’ll find with standard Thai take-out, but really well prepared.
I’m not much of a sweet-sauce gal, so I passed on the apricot sweet chili accompaniment. (Just too busy savoring every crunchy, creamy bite…)
The signature dish at Lat14 is the Thai Basil Duck. The pan-seared duck breast served over mushrooms and bok choy shines as the header on their online menu and is a popular choice given how many times we saw it brought out of the kitchen. But at $37, it felt like a stretch compared to some of the other options on the menu.
Instead, we opted for two smaller entrees and a side to share. Maybe not the most popular, but we erred on the side of wanting to try more of the menu than dropping our entire budget on one house specialty.
Braised Duck Ramen
When the piping-hot bowl of braised duck ramen came to the table, my first instinct was to lift the bowl and check the bottom to find out where it was made. The bowl’s lovely blue color set the tone for the rest of the well-rounded dish–by far our favorite of the night.
Imagine ramen in a duck broth topped with a braised duck leg, greens, and a perfectly soft-boiled egg.
We were worried about passing on the Thai Basil Duck, but we didn’t regret our choice as soon as this arrived.
It’s my honest opinion you can learn a lot about a Thai restaurant by testing the drunken noodles. I’ve passed on returning to many a Twin Cities’ spot because this classic dish was either too salty or so spicy my mouth burned for days. It’s a delicate balance to get the flavors and the heat just right.
Lat 14 didn’t disappoint on this dish either. The thick rice noodles were well-prepared and flavorful, although I was glad I added chicken. Not sure on its own if I would have felt the same.
There were two dessert options on the menu for our visit, and we opted for Luq’s Favorite Ice Cream to finish off the evening.
In just a few minutes, the waitstaff brought us three giant scoops of coconut chocolate chip ice cream garnished with a toasted coconut brittle and caramelized pineapple. Overall, a great choice to cool down the palate after the spicy drunken noodles.
Our final verdict?
I wish every shuttered Perkins restaurant turned into something as lovely as Lat14.
It blows suburban dining out of the water and is likely to keep drawing fans with global tastes. Big flavors and big city vibes for a tiny spot in the ‘burbs!
There’s plenty of parking. (A large lot wrapping around three sides of the restaurant.)
Low to moderate.
For a quieter dining experience, request to be seated in the atrium area or patio seating in the summer. The main dining area sits between the bar and kitchen and has a bit more noise.
Traditional table service. A 20% surcharge added to dine-in and 15% added to take-out.
Average Plate Cost
Do you need a reservation?
Absolutely. And plan to book weekend dates a few weeks out for peak times.
8815 7th Ave N Golden Valley, MN 55427