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Good Asian food in the Minneapolis skyways?

I have been trying to find a good Asian restaurant in the Minneapolis skyways. And when I say Asian, I mean any variety: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, anything. (Not LeeAnn Chin.) Any suggestions?

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  1. I'm afraid there isn't much terribly authentic Asian in the skyways. You're bound to find better Asian cuisine if you venture slightly outside the skyway to the street level.

    Sawatdee (www.sawatdee.com) and King and I Thai (www.kingandithai.com) are good bets for Thai.

    For good Japanese, I would suggest Nami (www.namisushi.com). They have a great happy hour, too. Good sushi.

    For Chinese, Ping's (www.pingsmpls.com) on Eat Street is really good. It's a bit of walk but worth it if you're looking for good Chinese. In the skyways, there are a number of take out Chinese places. They're all about the same quality and more Americanized - similar to LeeAnn Chin.

    Eat Street is a great location for Asian. Like I mentioned, Ping's is good but I've heard good things about Azia and Rainbow Chinese. Quang is excellent for Vietnamese and there are several other Vietnamese options along that stretch.

    Good luck!

    1. To answer your question about skyway restaurants, there are two places that might rise above the mediocre Chinese food that dot the system. I've not eaten at either of these spots.

      1) Zen Box (6 Quebec building at 6th and Marquette). Serves bento boxes and a limited menu. Dara Moskowitz reviewed it a while back: http://citypages.com/databank/26/1260...

      2) Royal Orchid (Northstar Center at 7th and Marquette). I liked the restaurant when it was on Nicollet, but since it moved to Roseville, it's been very hit or miss. I haven't tried this outpost.


      1. Zen Box is very good. There are some very good ethnic options in the skywalks. Atlas has an outpost for good middle eastern.

        1. The curry at Zen Box is pretty hearty and very affordable.

          1. Short Ribs @ Zen Box...they tend to run out towards 12:30, so get there early.

            1. Zen Box is good. Royal Orchid would be my first pick. I've tried Shanghi Wok once (between Macy's and parking on street level).

              1. Also, the fresh spring rolls in the Macy's Marketplace (at the sushi stand) are quite nice.

                Yeah, not much Asian in the skyway. :/

                1. Zen Box is probably the best followed by the sushi place between the TCF Tower/Baker Building (can't remember the name) after 5pm as it is half-priced. A nice little appetizer before heading home.

                  I have not had good luck with Royal Orchid. St. Paul beats Minneapolis in this category.

                  1. I'm a huge fan of Royal Orchid in Roseville - although that is the result of a lot of Chowish Relationship Building.

                    I will say that lunch in Roseville is not good - everything is clearly prepared in large batches, and should be avoided at all costs.

                    However, I tend to go when it is slow and have gotten to know the owner. These days, she almost always sits at our table and chats for a few minutes during our meal. We've gotten to try a few things that aren't anywhere near the menu - once even getting a bite of a meal that she prepared for the staff. (And, the owner usually makes a point of cooking for us herself.)

                    What I've found is that they often have thai eggplants, green beans, and other ingredients that aren't on the menu - if you ask about them. Once you get to the point where you know the owner, wonderful things start to happen.

                    Sadly, the landlords in that stripmall want to push them out - and bring in a Chinese Buffet.

                    1. It sounds like Zen Box gets a rousing huzzah from the local Chowhounders. I've been there once before, and I'll have to make a point of going back (early in the lunch hour) to try more of their menu items.

                      I'm surprised that several people recommended Royal Orchid. I had the worst Thai of my life there. I ordered a chicken and vegetable curry dish, and this is what was put on my plate (in this order): steamed white rice, curry sauce, plain boiled chicken, plain steamed vegetables. They kept every ingredient separate so they could mix-n-match when somebody actually ordered. (The place is always empty when I walk by during the lunch hour: not a good sign.) It was terrible, and was the impetus behind my original post.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: StPauliGirl

                        One note - my recommendation for Royal Orchid is for their restaurant in Roseville, and only for ordering off the regular menu. The lunch menu seems to be prepared in much the same way you're describing what happens in the skyway.

                        1. re: StPauliGirl

                          I had a horrendous experience there as well-I would never go back.

                        2. Royal Orchid is blech. Although I did enjoy being served by the Asian pre-op transsexual who also used to wait tables @ Fuji-Ya...haven't seem him/her there in a while.

                          1. Everyone who recommended Zen Box was spot on. Their yaki soba is fantastic, and I also love their potato croquettes. Their $3.99 curry special on Fridays is wonderfully tasty and affordable.

                            Someone mentioned the sushi place in the Baker Building that is 1/2 price after 5:00. I can't remember what it's called either, but it's very good for after work.

                            The sushi at the Marshall Fields Marketplace is about the same.

                            My favorite place has been Bombay Bistro on the ground floor of the Metro. I don't know what time you have to get there to avoid waiting in line, but it's worth waiting for. Their $10 lunch buffet is fantastic.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: StPauliGirl

                              Isn't Zen Box in the building connected to the Baker Building (Quebec something, right?). Maybe people are really referring to the same place. I don't know of any exclusive sushi restaurants in the skyway but I haven't worked downtown in about 2 years.

                              1. re: katebauer

                                Yes, Zen Box is in the Quebec Building, within spitting distance of the Wells Fargo
                                Bank - don't miss the teriyaki chicken and cabbage/carrot slaw with an amazing
                                ginger/apple dressing.

                                1. re: katebauer

                                  There are two different restaurants -- a sushi stand opened about a year and a half ago in the Baker Building (there isn't really much of a seating area). I believe the name is Tensuke sushi. Zen Box is one or two skyways away in the Northstar Building (now known as 6 Quebec).

                                  1. re: jaycooke

                                    Tensuke does a decent job. To get there, head East from the IDS via skyway and take the first right.

                                    1. re: g rote

                                      Ah, that's new since my downtown days. Thanks for clarifying!

                              2. I really like Tensuke Sushi in the baker building, i sometime have to take a late lunch and whenever i go to Zen box they always run out of sushi. Bombay Bistro is good. The Chinese place in the Macy building( i forgot the name but its right next to foot locker) is really decent and reasonable. Try Hawaiikiki for dessert .

                                1. I like Canton Village in the building right across 5th from the Fifth St Towers. For $4.30 you can get a huge pile of food with some really good and fresh choices. After 1:30, everything's 25% off too.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ike.

                                    Places links:

                                    Canton Village
                                    105 S 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                    Zen Box Japanese Eatery
                                    607 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                    Tensuke Sushi
                                    733 Marquette Ave Ste 225, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                    Bombay Bistro
                                    820 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                    Royal Orchid Best Thai Food
                                    625 Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                    700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                                    607 Washington Ave S Ste 100, Minneapolis, MN 55415

                                    King and I Thai
                                    1346 La Salle Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                    Ping's Szechuan Bar & Grill
                                    1401 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                    251 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                  2. Skyway Wok (250 S. 2nd St.) has wonderful eggrolls. Other items are pretty good and reasonably priced. Enough for lunch and a snack later on. Royal Orchid Thai (623 Marquette) is very good Thai food, for about 7 bucks you can get a plate with two items. If their Murgh is out, try it with jasmine rice.

                                    1. I was in MPLS over the summer, and while I didn't encounter any straight-up Asian food in the skyway system, I was pleasantly surprised to discover some random Korean dishes at Mission (I think it's in the IDS Center?). Mission's definitely more upscale, but they had this terrific galbi appetizer with kimchi that I was surprised to see on the menu, along with some fusion noodle dishes I didn't have a chance to try. If you're looking for something eclectic and more sit-down, it might be worth checking out.

                                      Also, random note, but there's a deli in the Dorsey building that serves bulgogi sandwiches. Never tried it, but heard good things.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Misschacha

                                        The deli is Brothers, which isn't really anything Asian other than the bulgogi sandwich. It's pretty good bulgogi, but they sort of do a twist Philly-steak style with onions and peppers. It's a New York deli, so maybe it's a New York thing.

                                      2. Tensuke is great. Their sushi is very satisfying, their yakiniku and salad is great, and their inari is outstanding.

                                        ZenBox is okay. I've been their twice. Never really grabbed me. I'd be willing to go back though.

                                        Asian Gourmet (forget the building..towards the federal court house...the Tri something or other) is pretty good. They have a passable bi bim bop (if you need a fix), and their chinese/korean lunch counter food is a notch above.

                                        Yeah, Bombay Bistro has a good buffet.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: basho1975

                                          I just went to Asian Gourmet and tried the bibimbop based on this recommendation. What a fantastic find! I am a novice when it comes to Korean food, and I thought it was great. It had a good combination of textures, and hot and cold ingredients. I liked it even better when I added the spicy sauce. The other buffet items looked really good too. The only thing that will prevent me from going back is its distance from my office building.

                                          It is on skyway level in the Tri Tech Building on the corner of 2nd Ave S and 4th St.

                                          And to reply to Misschacha's post above, yes, The Brothers Deli in the Dorsey Building does serve a bulgogi sandwich which I think is quite good. But again, I don't know much about Korean food.

                                          1. re: StPauliGirl

                                            Has anyone been to or know the name of the korean place in the skyway right next to the Teahouse? Looks like a good option for Korean in Downtown.

                                            1. re: dave43

                                              When you say "right next to the Teahouse" do you mean in the building across 2nd Avenue (the Tri Tech Building)? If so, it's Asian Gourmet described by StPauliGirl above. (I'm assuming that you're talking about T-Express in the Towle Building when you say the Teahouse.)

                                              If it's a different restaurant in the Towle Building, I'll have to check it out.

                                              1. re: bob s

                                                skyway bi bim bap? One of my prayers has been answered. I hope they are open today, my craving is going to be off the charts in 1/2 hour. will report back.

                                                1. re: g rote

                                                  just got done with Asian Gourmet Bi Bim Bop. I would go back, in spite of the fact that they didn't have my preferred brown rice. They used sticky sushi rice, and it worked perfectly in creating that unctuous texture throughout the dish when blended with the egg, moist ingredients & sauce. The portion was a bargain @ $5.50, and my office is fragrant with the scent of sesame oil.

                                                  1. re: g rote

                                                    Try Nicol's Deli on the 4th floor of the north Gavidae Building. They have Bi Bim Bap. I tried it a few weeks ago. I have nothing to compare it too, but it was pretty good.

                                          2. Not to beat a dead horse, but Zen Box is your best bet. The owner (at least I think she owns it) believes that a Japanese lunch should be quick, affordable, neatly packaged and delicious. The only request that I still have (and I understand why they can't accomodate) is a lack of street-style ramen and donburi dishes which you can get for about $5 outside of most train stations in Japan. The limited menu is sufficient to keep me going there 1-2 times a week though.

                                            Half price Sushi at a little place outside of the TCF Tower (name escapes me) after 5pm. Not a bad snack before heading home.

                                            Other than these two, I have completely given up ... I spent too many years in St. Paul and was spoiled by the University haunts.

                                            Good luck and let us know what you thought (or if you found anything else).

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: marknavoski

                                              Zen Box though, has nothing remotely resembling Bi Bim Bap--but their chicken teriyaki is great and their salad dressing is killer.

                                              1. re: faith

                                                Help! I want sushi today at lunch. I take it ZenBox is the one coming from TCF Tower (skyway-wise) heading toward IDS Center (by Vision World, Salad de Fusion and the corner Sawatdee Express), and Tensuke Sushi - I thought there was one in the lower level of the Medical Arts Building across from where Izzy's used to be? Correct me if I am wrong. Question though -- what's offered? I have seen the billboards...but I just want a little tray of spicy tuna - do they have some all made up, or do I have to order it off the menu board?

                                                1. re: snoboardbabe77

                                                  Zen Box is in the Seven Quebec building right near the skyway to the Rand Tower - next to Cafe di Napoli. I understand that there is also a sushi place - take out only , I believe - in the Rand Tower next to Caribou. A co-worker likes it, but I think he told me he doesn't like raw fish.... (So take that for what it's worth.)

                                                  1. re: bob s

                                                    Gotcha. I went to Tensuke Sushi in the Medical Arts Building (where Izzy's actually used to be), right past Zelino, and then I had to go to Potbelly's for a cookie and when I walked by the place closer to the IDS - by Vision World, it's ALSO a Tensuke. Had the spicy MN rolls - the tuna was nice and dark- for take out and for $7.19 - and 8 pieces, it was exactly what I needed. Not excellent but decent enough that I'd get it again.

                                            2. Thought I would revive this thread since I just discovered a new skyway restaurant today.

                                              Kabob's Indian Grill in the Gaviidae food court! They have a $5 buffet with about 30 items, both veg and non-veg. Note, however, that this is not an all-you-can-eat buffet. $5 allows you one pass through the line to fill your plate once. Add a fountain drink for $1.

                                              Please pardon me for not knowing the correct names for everything. Some of the items included standards like tandoori chicken, chicken biryani and chicken curries. Also had a few lentil dishes, a cauliflower dish, 2 kinds of soup, a cabbage dish, goat curry and a sweet dessert. And more items that didn't have signs that I could not immediately identify.

                                              You can also purchase a la carte if you don't want to do the buffet.

                                              Bottom line: good value for tasty food.