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What's the best thing you've eaten recently? [MSP]

What restaurant offering has most delighted your tastebuds in the last few weeks?

For me, it's the yogurt soup from Bombay 2 Deli. I got some in my combo plate yesterday, and I loved it so much that I got some extra for my lunch today. This soup is tangy, lemony, spicy, and beautiful - the only way I can describe it is "silky." I could eat this lovely soup every day, except that they only make it once a week.

Second place is also a soup: the coconut soup at Cafe BonXai. Third place is the roast pork on Birchwood's menu this week; unfortunately, I only got a bite, as I had foolishly ordered the tilapia (nice, but not as good as the pork).

Help me find more delicious things to fill out my week!

Thanks,
Anne

P.S. The places link for Cafe BonXai doesn't work. Here's its direct link:

Cafe BonXai
http://www.chowhound.com/places/116

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Birchwood Cafe
3311 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Bombay 2 Deli [Closed - May Reopen in Different Place
]1840 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

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  1. The Pho at Ngon Bistro in St. Paul is out of this world. Hard to describe the melange of spices but it is addictive. Cinnamon and nutmeg are in there soemwhere. A huge bowl with noodles and choice of meat is $7-$8. The spicy mussels were fab as well.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Michael Florey

      Did I have a bad bowl of it? I ate there recently and as I said in another thread, I didn't have a comparison point in that it was the first pho I've tried, but the broth was sort of bland. I could tell there were spices in it, but the flavor was simply weak. Is pho broth suppose to be mild in taste intensity?

      1. re: pgokey

        kinda yeah-- that little plate of stuff they bring you, with the bean sprouts, basil, lime wedge, plus the stuff on the table-- hoisin, sriracha, soy, etc. is for dressing your own bowl up to your own taste. the broth itself is mild/subtle but tasty (note that it is undersalted because of the many condiments the customer may choose to add)-- ngon's has the flavor Michael Florey describes. haunting and beautiful, in a different league than other places in town. it's a pho snobbery thing i guess-- the subtle difference in broth flavors. (being facetious here, pgokey--pho is non-highbrow food, but once you try 20 different pho broths you will be able to pick your favorite-- maybe not describe it very well verbally, but pick it. :)

        ngon's seafood broth is also outstanding, full of fresh herbal flavors, with toasted spices and crunchy dried shrimp slowly disintegrating. . . dang i love soup and i would walk 10 miles for ngon's broths alone. . .

        ngon veggie rolls are also my new fave in town!

        other great flavors: the miso salad dressing at tanpopo, one exceptionally executed chicken at brasa in tandem with the sweet potato/andoullie side. . . (i know brasa has been uneven-- starting out, but this moment it was hitting!) i gotta say the rest of my taste epiphanies of late have not happened with restaurant food.

        1. re: soupkitten

          That just seems weird to me. They give you a dish that is left unfinished, for you to finish off seasoning yourself. I'm of the mind that a well-prepared dish is complete, and it's potentially an insult to the chef to season it yourself. I recall an episode of Chef when one of the diners asks for a salt shaker, and the chef freaks out.

          With Mexican, you do add your own salsa to taste, I suppose. I get the idea behind the plate of stuff they bring out - that seems apropos. But the intentional lack of seasoning seems...odd. Like the chef doesn't dare season it because the diner might not like it.

          It guess it's a cultural thing, and perhaps pho isn't going to be my favorite noodle dish. There are other Asian "noodles in broth" dishes that I love as is from the kitchen - thai boat noodles come to mind. I'm a big flavor guy.

          I want to try the pho at Quangs, which is right by my house, and see how it goes there. DIfferent strokes.

          I agree about the rest of Ngon - it seems like a delightful place, and the appetizers seem like a crowning achievement.

          1. re: pgokey

            I gotta say it seems to me like Ngon is nickel and diming it on the spring rolls. The ones I lately ordered were mostly lettuce and not much of the other stuff.

            The ribeye in the pho was great--too often the beef in pho gets chewy but the ribeye stayed tender the whole way. I'm not sure that I'd say the broth was my favourite, though. It did seem to me pretty bland.

            Try Quang, I guess, but also try a place like Pho Ca Dau and see what you think of those as a means of comparison...

            1. re: gavagai

              We did not have the spring rolls, but the fried pork-filled egg rolls were some of the best I've ever had. My kids ordered a second batch, which almost never happens at a place seving non-pizza type food.

              People must be starting from very different points of reference. To me that broth just explodes with flavor. It's not Tom Yum intense, but to me it's not at all bland.

              1. re: Michael Florey

                I'm not sure it has anything to do with reference points. Flavor intensity is flavor intensity. My broth really, truly had little taste. I am beginning to think I had a bad bowl. We were there just after their lunch rush, which could explain something.

                1. re: pgokey

                  You should try again -- that does not sound representative. My 7 year picked out the flavors. She yelled "this is full of cinnamon!" (She did not find cinnamon in soup to be a good thing, hence the extra order of egg rolls). My wife commented that the smell was similar to Chinese 5-spice powder, but better and more haunting. I've now had both the meatball and the ribeye, and they were both great.

                  1. re: Michael Florey

                    I definitely want to go back, but to tell the truth, pho isn't high on my list. They have many other things that look really good to try. I might go with friends and do a whole round of various appetizers as a meal.

                    1. re: pgokey

                      I thought the mussels were great. That broth was spicy and delicious, and the mussels were very fresh. I was not impressed with the cold salad-like entree I tried -- just seemed like standard Asian vegetables thrown together with some mini-egg rolls on top.

            2. re: pgokey

              I think it is a cultural thing, for the most part. In a number of Southeast Asian cultures, diners are encouraged to mix-and-match with condiments to make certain dishes to their own taste. Vietnamese, Thai, Khmer, Laotian...am I missing any others? However, many restaurants around these parts don't necessarily do it that way because most people aren't accustomed to doing this.

              It can take some getting used to for diners used to a more European way of eating, but it's actually lot of fun to be able to try out different flavors in one's food.

      2. The Patti Cake at Yum! Kitchen and Bakery - out of this world moist and delicious. I will never think about chocolate cake the same way.

        1. The best thing I've eaten recently was the truffle/brie burger at Bulldog NE. Rich, but oh so delicious.

          -----
          Bulldog NE
          401 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          17 Replies
          1. re: pgokey

            A dish of salted caramel from Izzy's (wow...shocking coming from me I know).

            The creamed corn side dish at Copper Bleu in Lakeville.

            Gelato (chocolate I think) from Fat Lorenzo's at Cedar Ave and the Crosstown.

            The pieces of fatty tuna belly that came on my sashimi platter at Kami in Apple Valley. The rest was average to above average (excellent if you're grading by suburban standards).

            Nookie Supreme Burger and fries at Shamrock's on West 7th before the Police concert.

            (Brace yourselves for this one) The fried chicken at Oasis Market in Eagan (Lone Oak Road, one stoplight west of 35E). Available at lunchtime only I think, it's always freshly made, hot and super crispy. The coating doesn't have much seasoning but it's some darned good plain old fried chicken in my opinion.

            Fruit from Harmony Valley Farm CSA. Highly recommended.

            1. re: MSPD

              I have to know, what possessed you to even try the fried chicken in the first place?

              1. re: MayrMN

                Well...for background, I like truck stop food. Simple, greasy, salty, artery clogging....it just satisfies some deep dark corner of my palate. If you're ever passing through the west side of Des Moines on I35/80 around exit 125, stop into the Flying J Truckstop. Talk about a slice of roadfood heaven. Beautifully fried gizzards, 20 oz bageldogs (yes, I said 20 ounces), hot cheesy pizza by the slice....oh man. That's what I'm talking about.

                This Oasis market happens to be very close to my office, and at lunchtime, their steam trays are filled daily with very freshly fried, tasty looking fried chicken (among other not-so-satisfying-looking things). It was just something that aligned for me that day and I gave it a try. Now, about 2-3 times a month I go grab a couple pieces of chicken and a Coke "Zero", grab a spot in the parking lot, turn on the AM radio, cogitate on how lame corporate life is and pretend I'm on a road trip (with the trunk of the car pointed towards my office).

                1. re: MSPD

                  I'll look for you there. I'll be the one with my trunk (car, not nose) pointed the same way, coagitating the same thoughts, except mine will be appended by thoughts of how I would have never, ever thought to try the Oasis Market for lunch had it not been for MSPD and Chowhound.

              2. re: MSPD

                That salted caramel ice cream at Izzy's is the best thing I've eaten recently. I came to this thread to post about it, but you beat me to it. It's all I can do not to go back again today.

                1. re: jaycooke

                  I tried to order the salted caramel yesterday but they didn't have it out. I asked if I could have it (hoping they'd go in the back and get it) and she said no. Are there times, in particular, when they have it or any secrets to getting them to bring it out?

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    It was there yesterday (Saturday) around 6:00 p.m. The person in front of me ordered a quart; after which there wasn't much left in the bucket, so maybe they ran out until they make more? Did you check the freezer case for pre-packed pints?

                    1. re: jaycooke

                      They have more flavors than they have display space. They rotate their flavors out. The day I went recently they didn't have any of the flavors I was hoping for.

                      It's actually more than a little frustrating. I like TDQ's implied suggestion - create a disclosed schedule.

                      1. re: pgokey

                        If you don't see a flavor you like, ask for it! Even if they won't get it for you, they do keep track of requests, and use that to decide how often something is made/rotated in.

                        Also, as jaycooke said - check the freezer case for pre-packed pints. It seems like any overflow when they make a batch ends up in the pre-pack section. I've seen some interesting flavors there that weren't in the scoop case.

                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      They have the salted caramel tonight! A full 5-gallon tub.

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Izzy's had salted caramel ice cream again tonight (Sunday). It was fabulous as a mini izzy scoop on top of the basil ice cream. Thanks for the tip!

                        Anne

                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                          It took a couple of tries, but I figured out that the big magnet board behind the Izzy's counter does not list all of the flavors available in the case. (Maybe the list is complete at the start of the day, but on a Saturday afternoon about half the flavors were missing.)

                          We may need to start a thread devoted to salted caramel sightings, the way that the Boston chowhounders tell one another where the Speedy hot dog guy is that day. :)

                          1. re: KTFoley

                            Crud, I *thought* this was true, but didn't verify it last night (the big-board not being accurate) because Izzy's was too busy to have me running around peering between people's arms to see what was in the case. I would have loved that basil ice cream.

                            1. re: jeanmt

                              Yeah, it's always difficult to see all the flavors when Izzy's is crowded. I almost missed the basil ice cream, too. But I'm not shy about peering around people, because I know there's always a surprise. I had had three taste spoons already before I discovered the basil - one taste of that and I was in love. It's super creamy, full of chopped basil leaves, and not too terribly sweet. Wow!

                              Note that the tub was almost full last evening at 7:30, so I bet they'll still have lots today. You need to go back for a taste, at least.

                              Anne

                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                After these "Salted Caramel" posts I made it my summer's mission to find it at Izzy's--after my fifth stop they finally told me that they keep a "flavor list" and they took my name and phone number--a nice man named Ben called me as I was wandering through the new Super Target this week and he cheerfully put aside a pint for me. Even my husband, a staunch anti-foodie, said "Well, I have to admit that's pretty good." As for me, I was freaking out. Who puts salt in ice cream? It's freakish and brilliant. Many thanks to the chowers on this board who alerted me. By the way, in my many forays to The Iz I discovered also the Dinosaur Egg ice cream--malted milk ball ice cream. Mmm.

                  2. re: pgokey

                    Ditto on the burger at Bulldog NE - went last Sunday and still dreaming of the rich flavors =)

                    1. re: pgokey

                      Mmmm...I've heard about this truffle/brie burger. I will have to check it out next time. The last time I visited the Bulldog NE for happy hour we ordered the nachos. Excellent.

                    2. Here's another attempt to add a places link for Cafe Bonxai. (Someone else assures me that it can be done...)

                      Yay - I think it worked!

                      [EDIT: The problem was the city name I used. If you can't find something in "saint paul", try "st paul". And vice versa - the results are very different and non-overlapping. I'll bet "st. paul" - with a period - gives yet another non-overlapping list!]

                      Anne

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                      Cafe BonXai
                      1613 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                      1. Fresh berries with Cool whip.