I'm beginning to think that I missed the memo -- "The Next 50 Restaurants to Open in the Twin Cities Must Be Thai." It would be an exaggeration to label any of the most recent crop of Thai newbies as watershed dining events, but there are plenty of reasons to make a habit out of any of them.

At the top of the list lies Sen Yai Sen Lek. Co-owner Joe Hatch-Surisook's tightly focused and affordable menu (nothing tops $12) is unlike anything else available in the Twin Cities. It's unthinkable to visit the restaurant (its name translates to "Big Noodle Little Noodle") and not order a noodle dish. But don't skip the fabulous lettuce wraps, which arrive looking a bit like a painter's palette, with a pile of curly lettuce leaves surrounded by small piles of chewy dried shrimp, crunchy toasted peanuts, tangy cubed ginger, smoky toasted coconut and, for the brave, incendiary fresh Thai chiles, along with a pungent shrimp sauce.

Next up: marvelous spring rolls, diminutive things rolled with cool cucumbers, cooked eggs and a mild pork sausage and served with a brawny tamarind sauce, as well as piping-hot fish cakes that are little brown disks livened with kaffir lime leaves, and plump chicken skewers, perfect for dunking into a zingy peanut sauce. All are a treat.

But back to the noodle dishes. My favorite is a big, steaming bowl of slightly sweet chicken broth filled with snappy shrimp dumplings, thin shavings of barbecued pork, bits of fried garlic, tons of long egg noodles and a handful of pert cilantro. It's difficult to imagine anything more satisfying on a subzero day.

At tiny Mango Thai Cuisine, co-owners Chai Harris Vang and Marlene Rachwat put a premium on visual appeal; their food is unusually good looking, and the abundance of fresh herbs does its part to keep the flavor quotient high. Highlights include the sweet-crispy crab rolls, the succulent duck with ginger accents and the unassuming steamed spinach dressed in a curry-peanut sauce.

Roat Osha is the stylish second effort by spouses Somsap and Steve Hein of nearby Tum Rup Thai. Their lengthy menu covers all the familiar bases, but I found much of what I sampled rather boilerplate -- you know, Midwestern Thai, deluxe version. Pretty? Sometimes. Vivid tasting? Occasionally. Perfunctory? Often, in a been-there, tasted-that kind of way (one notable exception is a lovely, and delicious, pan-fried walleye with a green curry sauce that screams "signature dish"). But the restaurant has pluses: off-street parking -- a major Uptown asset -- a rather rockin' bar, perky servers, get-me-a-doggy-bag portions, moderate prices.

The cooking feels more personal at Kindee Thai Restaurant. Co-owner Nuntanit Charoensit, a Bangkok native, is cooking her heart out; I'm crazy about her lettuce wraps, a combination of highly seasoned ground chicken with mint, generous squeezes of lime and toasted and ground rice rolled up in leaf lettuce. Her spring rolls fairly burst with mint, crunchy red cabbage and snappy shrimp. I particularly like her rich, aromatic curries (don't miss the duck roasted with grapes) and how she offers brown rice as well as jasmine, a thoughtful touch. At lunch, Charoensit offers a great deal: smaller portions of one of six appetizers and one of nine entrees for $11. Pre-Guthrie matinee lunch, here I come.