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Singapore (S. MPLS) Closed?

It lasted for at least 6 years. I remember eating there on my first food adventure down to the Twin Cities in June 2007.

Mar 07, 2014
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Place to buy Sichuan peppercorn in MSP

Thank you, I had my sister pick some up from the Lakeville location.

Oct 19, 2012
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Place to buy Sichuan peppercorn in MSP

Hello everyone. I have a simple question: do you know where Sichuan peppercorn is sold in the Metro? I'm pretty sure no place around here (Duluth) sells it, so it looks like I'll have to go to Minneapolis or St. Paul. I've asked before at the giant Asian supermarket on University Avenue in St. Paul and at the Little India Market on NE Central Ave in Minneapolis (because the ingredient is known in South Asian cooking as well) to no avail. Apparently, the import ban ended in 2005, so I know it's available in the U.S.

Thank you for your help.

Oct 16, 2012
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Duluth in November

The Neapolitan place is called Vitta Pizza, and as another poster pointed out, is in a location formerly occupied by a bookstore. I received a gift card for there last Christmas and I can say that it is a middling joint - definitely not on my "must eat" list, though others may disagree.

I was to Le Midi once for a birthday two years ago and it's a decent place. They serve a mix of German / Mediterranean / Spanish food.

I'd be very surprised if Mexico Lindo's location in the Fitger's Plaza was gone, because it was absolutely hopping the last time I was there in September 2011. They appear to be shooting for an entirely different crowd than the original Cloquet location, and from the time I was there, seem to have completely different chefs making different recipes. I would suggest the Cloquet location over the Duluth location unless you prefer a loud, student-oriented ambiance.

Sep 18, 2012
tvdxer in Great Lakes

Duluth in November

I'm from Duluth. I used to be on here all the time, but haven't posted often lately, primarily due to financial reasons.

I first would second anyone who recommended the Duluth Grill. I was there about two weeks ago with my mother and had a great time. Excellent food, large menu (which leads to problems in choosing exactly what to get), great service. I got the braised lamb shank in stew; my mother ordered the "Everything" omelet with a pancake, and they both were great. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a bad meal at the Duluth Grill after they cut ties with Embers.

Amazing Grace is a good suggestion too, if just for the "Duluth alternative" atmosphere of the place.

Some other places I am willing to suggest are Mexico Lindo in Cloquet (NOT the one in Duluth) and Northern Waters Smokehaus (not really a restaurant, but their lox-and-cream bagels are excellent, albeit pricey).

Sep 18, 2012
tvdxer in Great Lakes

What's missing from MSP's culinary landscape?

Some national cuisines that are found in some other U.S. cities / metros (mainly larger than MSP), but not in Minneapolis:

> Burmese. Especially with the wave of Karen immigrants from Myanmar, you'd think there'd be a Burmese restaurant in Minneapolis. But no. It's a real loss, too, because Burmese food is a unique fusion of Southeast Asian and Indian cuisines.

> Filipino. Popular in California, Filipino food has yet to make its mark in Minnesota. There have been attempts at opening Filipino restaurants (Subo, K-Wok had some Filipino menu items) in MSP, but they have all failed.

> Uzbek / Central Asian. Several of these restaurants exist in New York, especially in the Rego Park neighborhood of Queens, and also Brighton Beach, where you can find Uyghur food ("Uyghurstan" is the western region of China populated by ethnic Central Asians).

> Regional Chinese. Other than Szechuan, I don't know of too many regional Chinese restaurants in the Twin Cities, which exist plenty of other places in the country with Chinatowns. Add regional Indian / South Asian (other than Southern Indian).

> Romanian. There are numerous Romanian restaurants in Chicago, but none in Minneapolis.

> Bosnian

> Costa Rican

> Yucatecan

> Bolivian

> Australian

> South African

Mar 07, 2012
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Bun bo hue

Who makes the best bun bo hue in the Twin Cities?

Jan 22, 2012
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Indian "easy" / microwave meals

Has anybody tasted the delight of these? I'm talking about boxed, ready to eat meals from the Indian section of your supermarket or your local South Asian grocery store, manufactured by such names as Deep Foods, Kohinoor, Gits, and others.

Most I have tasted so far have been absolutely delicious. They usually don't need freezing and if you read the ingredient list, contain almost all ingredients found in nature. They're cheap, too, if you find them at an Indian grocery store: usually $1.99 / box (which makes one meal...rice usually not included), but I've seen them on sale for "two for $2" before. They're no replacement for homemade or restaurant Indian food, of course, but it seems like of all cuisines, Indian food takes best to ready-to-eat meals. I can speculate why this is - Indian food emphasizes spice mixes, which are easily stored, rather than the freshness of the original ingredients.

So, have you tried the convenient goodness that comes in Indian microwavable / ready-to-eat meals?

Nov 05, 2011
tvdxer in General Topics

Gorkha Palace

I was there last Monday for lunch between my MRI and consultation with the doctor. I chose the lunch buffet, as I figured it'd be the best option. They had both what I call "Indian buffet" food (their version of chana masala, "choley masala", and pakora, etc.) and not a few more exotic Nepalese dishes, including a few not on their normal menu. Although the dishes weren't hot as I like them (obviously toned down for the local clientele), they were still spicy (as in lots of spices, masterfully mixed) and delicious. The achars at the end of the line were hot, however, and certainly won the show - there was a potato achar and a unique radish achar that tasted like it had cabbage in it. I had achar a few times previously, but none as good as this time. The fragrance actually reminded me of papaya salad.

Their bread left a bit to be desired, but it was still acceptable. The buffet was a bargain at $9.99, cheaper then most of the entrees on their menu. Soft drinks brought the price / person up to about $12 - still an excellent deal. Overall, I'd recommend this restaurant, especially to those who want to try Nepalese food but shun the heat usually associated with it.

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Gorkha Palace
23 4th St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

Jan 30, 2011
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Does Your Family Consider You to be "Weird"?

My mom and sister definitely consider my food tastes to be at best exotic and at worst downright strange. However, my mom actually makes a lot of the recipes I have given her. My sister, however, (at age 16) is definitely more of the Appleby's type and rejects practically all of my "try this" food advances. My brother, more of a McDonalds / gas station food type, also considers my taste in food to be weird. My late dad did not consider my forays into ethnic cuisine to be as odd, though he had a "lust for life", a real love for food (no matter whether it was the "artificial type" so often maligned on these forums or the "real" stuff), which actually sort of ended in his demise.

Really, you can't blame them. I'm in northern Minnesota, which is meat-and-potatoes country through and through. Most people around here - at least from my social class - have no idea what "curry" or "hummus" is.

Aug 07, 2010
tvdxer in Not About Food

The Vegetarian closed (?), anywhere else to get South Indian foods?

Wow. Just wow.

I always imagined a "Dosa Hut" in the same Duluth neighborhood that Burrito Union is in. It would have a fast-food pizza place look (e.g. the neon menu sign) but serve up dosas and utthapams. Interesting to hear their is indeed a similarly-named place in Columbia Heights.

Jul 22, 2010
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

The Vegetarian closed (?), anywhere else to get South Indian foods?

So I drive down to the Cities a couple weeks ago to ship up some carpet and vinyl for our customers, and I plan on visiting "The Vegetarian" restaurant in Columbia Heights on Central Ave. NE for lunch. My GPS quits on me (apparently the cigarette lighter on my rickety van was broken and it was running off its internal battery all the way down here), but I find it anyway.

Mistake.

It's closed. I peer through the dining room window and its is empty. The sign is worn, and by all appearances it is shuttered.

Is there any other places in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or any of the suburbs where I can find South Indian food? I'm talking about dosas, utthappam, idli, etc. Any restaurants devoted to that kind of fare?

Jul 16, 2010
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

The most expensive restaurants in the Minneapolis / St. Paul metro1

What are the most expensive restaurants (entree prices) in the Twin Cities?

Jul 16, 2010
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Hell's Kitchen (Duluth) - A Total Downer [Moved from Minneapolis-St. Paul Board]

So everybody who has posted here reacted the same way I did - interesting. Now the question is: Whatever entered the mind of management to change the restaurant so much, from a place serving inspired, creative yet traditional fare to what is essentially a sports bar serving burgers and wings (and bad ones at that)? Are the tastes of the general public really that different than ours?

May 22, 2010
tvdxer in Great Lakes

Looking for a Good Indian Buffet

How about a Indian restaurant that isn't afraid to make their buffet dishes spicy? One that is frequented mostly by South Asians. I'm thinking of a buffet like that at Jai Ho in Tampa.

May 19, 2010
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Hell's Kitchen (Duluth) - A Total Downer [Moved from Minneapolis-St. Paul Board]

I don't know about the Minneapolis HK, but the Duluth Hell's Kitchen has went from an innovative, worthy new restaurant the first time I went there (around October 2008) to a burgers-and-wings dump the second time (yesterday, May 16th).

The last time I was at Hell's Kitchen in Duluth (never been to the one in Minneapolis) - I don't know whether I wrote a review on it here - it was great. The hot chocolate I took before eating was the best I ever had, and the French Dip entree came with two or three sauces to the side that were tasty and creative.

Well, I go again after my commencement ceremony, expecting the restaurant to be more or less the same. I planned on trying their huevos rancheros, which I remember seeing in past reviews, and having the same hot chocolate as last time. Wrong. Gravely wrong. Huevos rancheros: off their menu. Couldn't find it. Hot chocolate: Off their menu. I asked our waiter if they still made it. He said no. I asked him if it wasn't very popular. He said no, that's not the reason, the production costs were too high. Come on, I'd be very willing to shell out an extra dollar for it, considering it was like $3 last time. I'm sure the "production costs" didn't increase beyond an additional dollar.

The first thing my mom noticed is that they changed the look of the restaurant, removing some cool chandeliers. She asked the waiter about that, and he said that they had had too many complaints about it being "too dark". Well, let's see...you go to a restaurant named "Hell's Kitchen", and you expect it to be light in there? Come on.

We first ordered the Chili Cheese Fries. They were middling, the visibly over-salted fries being the primary detractor, but they came in a big basket, sufficient for three people.

So I order the North Carolina Pulled Pork. He comes back 15 minutes later with a sandwich that no civilized person could eat without a fork and knife (which were provided). The worst thing? It had raw lettuce and a slice of tomato on the top. I wasn't informed of that. He said all their specials* came with lettuce and tomato. I told him I was allergic to lettuce and tomato (as in taste-allergic, but I didn't inform him of that specificity), and he took it back and brought out another one. It was decent.

My mom, on the other hand, ordered chicken wings for herself. They came lukewarm, almost cold. She had them take them back.

The only real positive of the evening was the live music. Although once they played you couldn't hear the person sitting next to you without them shouting, and I didn't really feel either way about their music, they were pretty good and entertaining, as in they looked funny.

Again, I don't know whether Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis has suffered the same fate, but the Duluth one - which I believe is now called "Hell's Burgers" - has went from a respectable restaurant when they first opened back in the Summer of 2008 to what is essentially a large bar with wings, hot-dogs, and burgers now.

* By the way, the menu has gotten a lot smaller since I last visited; essentially a two-sided glossy sheet of paper with one side dedicated to drinks!

(Notice: The address below is for the Minneapolis restaurant, which I have never been too, not the Duluth one. The Duluth one is on Lake St. in Canal Park).

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Hell's Kitchen
80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

May 17, 2010
tvdxer in Great Lakes

Cuban bread

Anywhere to pick up Pan Cubano in Minnesota? I ate it regularly in Florida and loved it, but obviously, it's a bit more difficult to find in Duluth.

Apr 24, 2010
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Duluth Updates - September 2009

I haven't tried them yet, but want to! Thanks for the recommendation - that sounds good.

You can take the DTA to the Miller Hill Mall quite easily from the transit center (if the shady characters don't bother you), but I think Zen House's new location downtown will be really successful. It's convenient to both tourists (who may not think about leaving the central area) and workers downtown, who tend to be more of the professional, middle-upper middle class type that you'd expect to be interested in sushi. I was in the Holiday Center a few weeks ago during lunchtime and it was very busy with well-dressed people going out for lunch at Z's, Schlottsky's, etc. I'm sure Zen House will be a hit there.

Sep 03, 2009
tvdxer in Great Lakes

Duluth Updates - September 2009

There seems to be a lot of interest in Duluth on these boards, so I'll provide a few updates:

* The Zen House - Duluth's first and only Japanese restaurant - is opening a second location downtown in the busy Holiday Center. They will be on the second floor, convenient to the Skywalk, in the space occupied by Shanghai, a Chinese restaurant. Their first location, in a former burger restaurant inside of a gas station on the western fringe of the Mall Area, will remain, but their new location should open up a whole new captive audience - the downtown lunch crowd.

* Saigon Cafe has moved from a strip mall near the Miller Hill Mall to Thai Krathong's former location on First Street downtown. Looking at their menu on the door, I see no Vietnamese dishes, only "Chinese" food. The "Taste of Saigon" in Canal Park is a similar situation, with even the waiter admitting to me that they're more of a "Pan-Asian" or "general Asian" restaurant than Vietnamese. The Vietnamese Lantern in far-off Gary seems to be more of a Vietnamese restaurant (but still serving Chinese), although at very high prices (like $11 or $13 for a bowl of pho).

* Bangkok Royale, Duluth's third Thai restaurant, is now closed. The restaurant was located in the The Village Square strip mall, in the space previously occupied by Saigon Cafe. The restaurant appeared to open some time around the turn of the year and was rather expensive for a strip mall joint, with some dishes over $20. Sala Thai (in the Kenwood neighborhood) and Thai Krathong (in Canal Park) remain.

* As reported here, Takk for Matten is now open at a site close to their original, which now seems to be blocked from road access by perennial construction. They're in the Tech Village along with Pizza Luce. At night, Takk for Matten becomes Kippis, a - get this - Finnish tapas bar.

* A new upscale lounge, "Blackwater", is open in the Greysolon Center downtown. They feature a decent selection of varied lounge food, including sushi - at $9 a roll!

* On the chain front, Texas Roadhouse is building a spot near Olive Garden on the Home Depot hill. Buffalo Wild Wings also is coming to Duluth, and there seems to be speculation that Five Guys is as well.

Sep 02, 2009
tvdxer in Great Lakes

Food Borders I: Where does "Ethiopian food" start and end?

I went to an Ethiopian restaurant yesterday, had a wonderful combo platter, and I'm curious: what are the geographic boundaries of where berbere, aletcha / wat, and injera are "local" foods? I know Somali food is quite a bit different than Ethiopian, and I've heard that Eritrean is virtually the same, except with seafood more common.

As far as the use of injera, I know a very similar bread is used in Somalia (canjeero / laxoox), but I don't think the "wats" are very similar there. Is the food of southern or eastern Sudan or northern Kenya similar?

Aug 31, 2009
tvdxer in General Topics

Just Back from Annual Trip to Duluth

Hiking to the end of the point is great, isn't it?

As for the Thai Krathong, they've been here since 2001 or so...though through most of those years they were on First Street downtown. I suppose they get a lot more business during the summer at their new location.

There's also Sala Thai in Woodland (owned by the previous owner of Thai Krathong), which had a unimpressive buffet (but on the other hand, seems to be cheaper and they have larb on the menu) in my one experience there, and Bangkok Royale, which seems to be very expensive in this economy (something like $16.95 for tom kha yung). I believe BR is owned by the Sala Thai owner's sister.

Ice cream in Duluth (MN)

Portland Malt Shoppe is good, as is Bridgeman's, another local place up by the mall (they may have other locations as well).

However, the cake batter ice cream at Coldstone still has my heart..

Aug 22, 2009
tvdxer in Great Lakes

Kippis and Takk for Maten in Duluth

I had the Swedish meatball wrap in lefse. Pretty good, nothing special. About $6.

Aug 21, 2009
tvdxer in Great Lakes

Last Night in MSP for French Exchange Student - College Age

Maybe Applebee's? There's a truly "typical" American restaurant, especially for college students. Bring her their for the half-price appetizers.

MSP One Night

I'm going to put one in for La Gran Colombia on Central Ave. in North Minneapolis. Excellent food (and it can get very meaty), nice service, bigger-than-Texas-size portions, and not too expensive (though not very cheap) to boot. Great atmosphere too.

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La Gran Colombia Restaurant
2207 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

MSP: Somali or Hmong Food?

There are several Somali restaurants in Minneapolis, concentrated in the West Bank (or is it East?) and Lake St. areas. Three that come to mind immediately are Hamdi (located across from the Midtown Global Market on Lake and Chicago); Safari Express (fast food; located IN the Midtown Global Market), and Qoraxlow (located near the Mercado Central further down on Lake Ave.) Several others exist, perhaps numbering over a dozen. No idea on how often they open and close, but I'm guessing it's all the time. I concur on the (externally) "unwelcoming" aspect - the Somali restaurants I have seen and heard about do not seem keen on a general clientele. Many, in fact, have separate men and women's dining areas. However, most experiences at such restaurants seem to be pleasant ones.

As for Hmong food, there's Red Pepper, as mentioned here, the Foodsmart deli (not just a "deli", but a full-out dining area with LOTS of chairs), and the famous International Market, where there are several stands serving up Hmong and other area cuisines. There's also a place called Cakes by Fhoua that I had on my Unique Ethnic Dining list (in need of a serious update!). A useful list is here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/517055.

In my (limited) experience, Hmong food tends to be plain, consisting primarily of meat and sticky rice. They like to accompany their meals with a very spicy pepper, though the food itself isn't that spicy. However, at the "Hmong" International Market you'll find a lot of Thai and Lao (?) specialties, including some very spicy papaya salad.

I've only eaten Somali twice (and once was just a snack). It kind of reminds me of a mix of Indian, Italian, and perhaps Ethiopian food. One quirk is that they serve bananas with pasta.

Aug 02, 2009
tvdxer in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Tampa Recommendations

On Monday, I had the steak shwarma at Byblos, sans lettuce. That parsley is good! Too bad the steak was pretty dry. Nonetheless a good value at $5 (it was specials night).

Some time last week I ordered the beef stir fry with lemongrass and a few other things (can't remember) off the Pho Quyen menu. Delicious!

On Saturday, I walked over to the Waffle House on 10th or so & Fowler. Not too impressed.

On Sunday, I went to a little Mexican joint right next to Trang. Here's how I got there: first, I thought the Chopstix / Ho Ho Choy strip mall was in Fletcher; when I learned that it was on Fowler, I was already at 14th and Fowler with two people, walking, so we decided to go to Trang; third, Trang was closed, so we went next door to a Latin / Mexican market which had a restaurant.

I had the lunch special of pozole, which was $6.95. I was amazed by how much food appeared when the order was completed; a bowl of red pozole; a garnish plate complete with lemons, radishes, onions, lettuce, and the like; and two big tortillas with cheese and something else on them. The corn in the pozole reminded me of chickpeas! It was my first time having pozole, and it was pretty good, though not spectactular. But for $6.95

Jul 14, 2009
tvdxer in Florida

Tampa Recommendations

Tried Thai Noodle today. It's in the strip mall by Subway on Fletcher, just a bit down (from the USF campus) from Target. Decent tom yum, but nothing special. Maybe their other dishes are better. Very good prices; $15 for two to eat with soft drinks.

Jul 08, 2009
tvdxer in Florida

If it has to be a chain, it has to be...

Good chains in my opinion:

> Einstein Bros Bagels - excellent bagels and blenders
> Five Guys - good burgers, they seem committed to quality rather than "value" / cheapness
> First Watch - excellent breakfast
> Starbucks, because they're in bookstores and libraries - nothing like sitting down with a good book on a comfortable chair with a Frapuccino
> Papa Murphy's - Their take & bake pizzas are a guilty pleasure of mine
> Cheesecake Factory - delicious ice cream

Jul 06, 2009
tvdxer in Chains

Tampa Recommendations

Tried First Watch. Excellent french toast (not the "Florida French Toast", but their normal "French Toast") and nice service. However, their opening hours are awful - 7:00 to 2:30.

Jul 03, 2009
tvdxer in Florida