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ten top MSP breakfasts

Maria's Cafe on Franklin with their amazing sweet corn pancakes. Mmmmh...

Jul 12, 2014
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Cheap Dining / Dinner Deals Around Town?

I haven't been to all of them, but I've lived off Lake Nokomis for 20 years and have been to quite a few. Most of them substitute quantity for quality.

For both quality and quantity, a shout out to Rinata. Great, bordering spectacular, food for a nominal sum - if you do the Date Night special.

Apr 29, 2014
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul
1

Grand Szechuan Plymouth is toast

+1. I give Szechuan Spice the nod for pure authenticity, but they're both excellent.

Mar 09, 2014
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Sushi and Large Group

I haven't been to Masu on Hennepin, but the store at the Mall of American is to be avoided at all cost. My wife and I stopped by while shopping and the sushi is bad enough to make you angry. How can they serve sushi with semi-raw rice? The miso soup was basically water with MSG in a cube. Etc, etc.

Origami and Fuji-Ya continues to be my favorite. Both are great places for omikase.

Mar 08, 2014
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Pollo Campero

I spent some time in Guatemala three decades ago and greatly enjoyed Pollo Compero then. So when PC appeared on this site, I was off like a flash. And it's still great. I love the ripe plantains, I love the beans, I love the rice and the chicken is sooo much better than KFC.

Since then, my wife and all her friends only go there for chicken. We live in Minneapolis and driving there this Winter has been tough, but good food can be inspirational.

I hope they thrive and open many more stores here.

Mar 08, 2014
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Going to be in Minneapolis for our 2nd Wedding Anniversary. Restaurant recs?

Just had another amazing meal at Alma. We received good service, but I can understand that it's not necessarily a locale for romantic dining. I love Alma, because it's just about the food. It's not snobby, it's not pretentious, it doesn't have 30 entrees, it's just a place to always have a superior meal.

Mar 08, 2014
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul
2

need a MSP Pho update

I used to swear by Pho 79, because their broth was easily heads and shoulders above the rest. Recently, the broth has dropped in quality but increased in salt. Now, it's Pho Tau Bay for me.

I also support PTB because they spend more time keeping their restaurant clean. Quang is the worst in terms of hygiene. I feel like even my shoes need booties.

Mar 08, 2014
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Nominate: Best Pizza in Minneapolis-StPaul (if you say Dominos, you are banned from chowhound 4 good)

I don't get all this weird toppings. There is plain pizza, which should have more than enough flavor to eat on its own. Then there's eating toppings, which has nothing to do with the pizza.

Jan 18, 2014
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Who has best scones in Twins Cities

I was going to nominate Colossal Cafe, which has great blueberry scones. Reading amishangst's post suggest that they probably fall in the category of "American monstrosities". These are sweet, but not at all dense.

Not being European, however, I'm not offended. I would agree, though, that they are not conducive to jam or cream.

May 25, 2013
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Best Fried Rice in the Cities?

Can't say that ANY restaurant in the Twin Cities has good fried rice. Best is probably the salted fish version at Mandarin Kitchen.

I'd stay away from ordering fried rice at Vietnamese restaurants - just asking for pale imitations. Just like I wouldn't order lemon grass dishes in Chinese ones.

May 25, 2013
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Curry and noodles Hopkins

Just had the buffet lunch there on Friday. Won't be going again. Nothing memorable at all.

May 25, 2013
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Chinese wedding rehearsal dinner

Mandarin Kitchen has fixed price banquets, 10 - 12 dishes, for 10 people per table. You can book a private room with 3 tables and it would certainly be authentic.

Mar 31, 2013
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

What's the best Korean restaurant?

I finally tried Dong Yang and agree that the food is very good. Maybe the best in the Twin Cities. However, I feel compelled to mention a few quirks.

My wife and I showed up around 7:15 pm to order. The store is open until 8 pm, but they stop serving at 7:30 pm. We got the food around 7:25 pm, but they started rushing us out at 7:43 pm. The old lady picked up the main dishes and poured them into styrofoam containers.

Now, I understand running a restaurant is tough and people want to get home. But why not stop serving earlier or tell people they have to get done before 8 pm?

One more thing. When the old lady poured our entree into the styrofoam container, she used her hands to push the food! Not good. If I go back, my wife won't be coming with me.

Mar 23, 2013
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Truly Extraordinary Lo Mein

The shrimp lo mein at Fresh Wok is cheap and very tasty. The other meats are not nearly as good.

Mar 19, 2013
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Authentic Chinese?

By far and away, Szechuan Spice is the most authentic Chinese restaurant in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately most people order the standard take out Cantonese dishes, egg rolls, sweet and sour chicken, etc.

For an authentic dining experience, start with their 3 item sampler. Choose the Ma La Tendon, Shredded Pork Stomach and Bon Bon Chicken to achieve deep insight into Szechuan cuisine. Their Dan Dan Noodles are the best in the Twin Cities. And that's before you get to their excellent entrees...

Mar 19, 2013
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Eating places: South Minneapolis vs. Como Park/Roseville

I've lived on Lake Nokomis for close to 20 years now. One neighborhood stand by that has never failed us is Prima on Lyndale & 52nd. Al Vente is also good, but a little more expensive. Next in line is Cafe Levain. Colossal is always fun if you go early. Cafe Ena has good food but I'm still in mourning since the same owners closed down El Meson!

Feb 03, 2013
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Lunar New Year

Does anyone know if any of our local restaurants are planning a Lunar New Year menu?

Feb 03, 2013
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

International food experiences in Mpls

If your friend wants to experience international cuisine, try Mercado Central on the corner of Lake and Cedar. It's like Hmong Village for Mexican, Ecuadorian, Salvadorean and Guatemalan restaurants. Lots of places to pick and choose from, with a central location to dine, just like Global Market.

Jan 05, 2013
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

MSP: New Restaurant(?) - Grand Szechuan in Bloomington

The wife and I went to Grand Szechuan and Szechuan Spice on consecutive weekends for dinner. Both had good food, but Szechuan Spice was clearly the better choice. Oddly enough, SS does not enjoy nearly the amount of business that GS has. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to either one in the future, but favor SS over GS by a nose.

I find it interesting that good Szechuan restaurants greatly outnumber Cantonese places here.

Dec 08, 2012
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MSP-Tian Jin-Must Try in western Suburbs (Mandarin/Szechuan)

I'd rank Szechuan Spice #1 and Little Szechuan #2. Pretty good, but definitely not as good as Szechuan Spice.

Dec 05, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

University Ave. reminder

The wife and I stopped by Que Nha Friday night after seeing the recommendation by Andrew Zimmern in the December Mpls St Paul magazine. In general, I'm highly skeptical of these lists, but his recommendations agreed complete with mine for the restaurants I know.

Best Pizza: Punch
Best Pho: Pho 79
Best Sushi: Fuji Ya
Best Pastry: Salty Tart

and he nominated Que Nha as the best Vietnamese. So off we go to the land of Light Rail construction on a cold November evening.

To make a long story short, I'd agree that this was the best Vietnamese I've had in a long time. I'm a long time habitue of Eat Street, but the cooking here was significantly better.

We had an absolutely excellent papaya salad. To be honest, I've never had papaya salad before - but this was absolutely scrumptious. We also had their steam rice pot with seafood, bamboo and Chinese sausage - essentially a clay pot meal. Also absolutely delicious. The pho, with abalone and sea cucumber, was okay - not spectacular (as AZ indicated in his recommendation), but how often do you eat abalone and sea cucumber? Yes, of course it's canned.

I'd definitely go again and try out their other dishes. Only two issues: they should turn up the heat and use less MSG. But definitely would go again.

Dec 01, 2012
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Pho - Dish of the Month Minneapolis-St. Paul (Oct 2012)

Is the Pho 79 on Nicollet and 25th owned by the same people that run Pho 79 in Energy Park? The one on Nicollet still has, in my opinion, the best broth.

I don't go to Quang any more. The place is so dirty that it's even starting to bother me.

Oct 14, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

El Mason-closed!

What a shame! It's one of my favorite places for authentic, unpretentious dining. I just loved the paellas. Tried Cafe Ena twice and it just doesn't do it for me.

Oct 14, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

New Dim Sum places

My wife and I tried the Wanderer's Garden for dim sum after six months. It used to be a back up to Mandarin Kitchen if you wake up after 10 am. This time, the food was inspiring enough to write a new review based on my dim sum favorites.

Shrimp Ball - Okay, as good as Mandarin Kitchen and Yangtze. The shrimp is well done, but getting the wrap right is a challenge to all the restaurants in the Twin Cities.
Chicken Feet - Very well done, better than MK and Y. The skin just falls off the bone. Flavor is greatly improved, far less "ketchupy" than before.
Turnip Cake - Excellent, filled with Chinese sausage. My wife was full but placed an additional order to take home.
Chopped Spare Rib - Excellent flavor, extremely fresh. Just slightly fatty to bring out all the juiciness.
Sticky Rice Chicken - Good, contains salted egg yolk. This is an expensive ingredient that most other dim sum houses skip.

I asked one of the waitstaff, who confirmed that they got a new dim sum chef. At this point, I would rate this as good as MK, although with less selection.

Note that the same cannot be said for their buffet lunch.

Sep 02, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Keefer Court chow report

Keefer Court's business model continues to mystify me. They have this huge bakery in the back that seems disproportionate to the amount of buns they sell. Where does the rest of the food go?

More importantly, most people take out from the front counter and miss the really good stuff on their menu. The duck is okay, but the Wine Sauce Chicken is excellent. I like the sea bass as well, but highly recommend the wonton noodle soup. The wontons are absolutely delicious, stuffed with shrimp (although 3 - 4 times the size of the Asian version). If you really want to go native, their beef tendon is pretty outstanding as well.

Eat there, don't just take out.

Aug 22, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Chinese take-out in South Minneapolis

Try Seafood to Go on Lake and Chicago. Very humble setting, but they have nicely fried fish and excellent chicken wings. Also, it' a very good deal.

Seafood To Go
2930 Chicago Ave Map.25b3417
Minneapolis, MN 55407

Jul 04, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Mexican Restaurants in the TwinCities

A plug for Pancho Villa on Eat Street. Their whole Red Snappers are wonderful.

I also question the credential of any Mexican restaurant that do not have a mole dish and a seafood soup on the menu.

Just a food snob talking...

Jul 04, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Sezchuan Spice

We read this thread and went out for an early dinner. Overall Impression: Great food, great prices, very sophisticated cooking.

The dan dan noodles and the soup dumplings were on par, or slightly behind, the TeaHouse. TH introduced both dishes into the Twin Cities area and have relied on them as signature dishes to draw in the crowds. TH's dan dan noodles were more flavorful, but Szechuan Spice's version was a lot more authentic.

Then we had the three cold dish platter, where you get to mix and match. The beef tendon was wonderfully done, sliced paper thin and perfectly spiced. The sliced pork with the sinful section of fat, prepared dry and just a little sweet, was also perfect. The sauteed cucumbers, very lightly sauteed, served as the perfect contrast.

We also ordered the eggplant in garlic sauce. Although we were already full when it arrived, the dish was clearly the highlight of the meal. Presentation of this dish, like the others, was exquisite. By quickly frying the eggplant before stir fry, the skin stayed gorgeously purple and crisp to the tongue.

If it seems like I'm raving about Szechuan Spice, it's because I am. I spoke to the owner, who pointed out that the two chefs in their kitchen are professionally trained. Many of the Chinese restaurants have very good cooks, but they are not professionally trained. The training comes through in the way the meat and vegetables were sliced, the delicacy of the flavoring and particularly in the presentation.

The bill for two of us, including most of the eggplant dish, was under $40. We eat out a lot and most of the Chinese restaurants in this class would have cost $6 - 10 more.

Finally, a restaurant good enough to take my presents!

May 28, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

roasted pig for reception

You can do a whole roasted pig at House of Wu in Burnsville.

May 28, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul

What's the best Korean restaurant?

I like Hoban in Eagan the best. Some of my Korean friends like it, others don't. But it's by far the cleanest Korean restaurant in the Twin Cities...

May 28, 2012
discus in Minneapolis-St. Paul