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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!


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

Cafe BonXai

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?


                  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!


                        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.


                              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!]


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

                      1. Fresh berries with Cool whip.

                        1. I was pleasantly surprised by the moules et frites at Salut. That's one of my fave dishes, and having just returned from Brussels, and recently from Paris, I was prepared to be disappointed, but they were superb.

                          1. Frutti di bosco gelato at Fat Lorenzo's
                            Halibut and risotto at Al Vento
                            Meat momos at Highland Park Cafe--someone in another thread mentioned that the dipping sauce they provide really elevates the flavor and I totally agree!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: drew13000

                              drew, I think that might have been me talking about the momos! http://www.chowhound.com/topics/417443 I'm so excited you tried them. Did you try anything else there?

                              I came into this thread to mention the ginger creme brulee at Ngon Bistro, but now that you reminded me, I second the momos+dipping sauce at Highland Cafe and Bakery. Those were fantastic. Oh, and that darn Tex Mex trail mix from the bulk bin at Mississippi Market.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                Yes, it was your post that inspired me to try the momos, and I'm so thankful! I got quite a few things for takeout, and I thought the Nepalese food was far superior to the American diner-type food. The meat momos were my favorite, though the veggie momos were a close second. I also tried the samosas, which were really savory and pretty good. There's a third Nepalese appetizer on the menu, it starts with a "K" and I can't remember the name but it's basically a pan-fried version of the momo. I normally love anything fried, but in this case, I much preferred the non-fried momo version.

                                I also got a chicken salad sandwich, which was okay, but nothing that would make me want to hurry back. I feel like I've had the exact same version somewhere else in town, though I can't remember where. The eggs benedict was good--the hollandaise was more lemony than other versions I've had. I had a piece of blueberry pie that was unremarkable. The crust was really hard, and the filling seemed like it came from a can and wasn't as tangy as I like my blueberry pie to be. I'll definitely go back for the momos, and I'd be interested in trying some of the other diner items on the menu, but they seem a little hit-and-miss.

                                1. re: drew13000

                                  The article in the "Avenues" said that they brought over some of their recipes from Key's--so, maybe the chicken salad sandwich was similar to one you had at Keys? Sorry to hear that the other American dishes were hit or miss. The eggs benedict sounds good, though. I always thought Key's best dishes were breakfast dishes--so, maybe that's going to be the same as for the American menu at Highland Cafe, too, if they're drawing on their Key's experience for a lot of their "American" recipes.

                                  Now I'll have to try the veggie momos and samosas! I'm so glad you tried them. I can't remember what that "K" appetizer is, either. I should take better notes, but all three times, I thought I'd remember it. I think it's kofta, no?


                              2. re: drew13000

                                Speaking of al Vento...

                                We went to al Vento last night to try it for the first time. We got a spot outside, which was nice, and I went for the caprese salad and the bucatini all'Amatriciana (both on the specials menu). Though the caprese came out looking great--huge slices of tomatoes and very fresh mozzarella and a chiffonade of basil--it had way too much salt on it. There was so much salt in there that I couldn't taste the other stuff. I had to send it back, even. (The waiter appologised and said he'd take it off the bill, but it was there when we paid in the end!)

                                The pasta was ok, still too salty but not nearly as bad as the salad. The noodles were sort of unwieldy. They were huge thick shoelaces of noodles which resisted being subdued by a fork.

                                The folks who ordered mains--lamb chops and tenderloin--were happy with them, and the other person who ordered pasta (fettuccine with clams, I think) mentioned that it was over seasoned also.

                                Not sure I'll be back...

                              3. Mercado Central on Lake Street is the best. The tacos and guacamole at the place with the pictures on the menu are out of this world.

                                1. Chilled pea soup and a glass of pinot verde at A Rebours. Soup was silky - like you describe your yogurt soup - and so fresh tasting. Topped with parsley oil and some pea tendrils. It was perfect during the last hot spell.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Uisge

                                    Adding a place link for A Rebours

                                    A Rebours [CLOSED]
                                    410 St Peter St, St Paul, MN 55102

                                  2. had a few bites (and then a few more) of Izzy's Chocolate Ice Cream last night.

                                    going to Alma this weekend so I'll have better "best" items at a future date.

                                    1. We haven't been anywhere too exciting recently but on Wednesday we stopped at Tin Fish after a walk around Calhoun. I got the grilled seafood plate and was extremely happy with everything, especially the quality of the scallops. I'm really sensitive to when scallops are chewy and these weren't. They were perfectly tender and well seasoned.

                                      We also got some amazing tuna from Coastal Seafood that just required 3 minutes on the grill and some salt and pepper to be perfect.

                                      1. Peach and raspberry cobbler at the Birchwood. I'm not the biggest fan of dessert but, man. Oh, and a second to the salted carmel ice cream at Izzy's. I could also name a million farmer's market vegetable concoctions I've been making (the true favorite thing this week goes to the sweet corn), but restricting myself to restaurant food.

                                        1. Dinner at Oceanaire on Saturday night. Oysters, crab cake and soft shell crabs. So good.

                                          1. Oh, wow - so many delicious things!

                                            I definitely see a visit to Ngon, Highland Bistro, and Izzy's in my future. And who woulda thunk that Fat Lorenzo's had Fruti di bosco gelato? I gotta gotta gotta go!


                                            Highland Cafe and Bakery
                                            2012 Ford Pkwy, Saint Paul, MN 55116

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

                                            The Tin Fish
                                            3000 E Calhoun Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                            Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
                                            799 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                                            Izzy's Ice Cream Cafe
                                            2034 Marshall Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                                            Oceanaire Seafood Room
                                            1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                            Bulldog NE
                                            401 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                            Mercado Central
                                            1515 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                                            Al Vento
                                            5001 34th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55417

                                            4000 Minnetonka Blvd, Minneapolis, MN 55416

                                            Fat Lorenzos
                                            5600 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55417

                                            Copper Bleu [CLOSED]
                                            17516 Dodd Blvd, Lakeville, MN 55044

                                            Kami Japanese Steakhouse
                                            15322 Galaxie Ave Ste 108, Saint Paul, MN 55124

                                            Salut Bar Americain
                                            5034 France Avenue South, Edina, MN 55410

                                            Coastal Seafoods
                                            2330 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                                              Pea Shoots & Dan Dan Noodles @ Little Szechuan
                                              Roast Pork, Cheddar Grits @ Brasa
                                              Slice of Cheese Pizza @ Joey Nova's late night tonight.

                                            2. Osteria
                                              640 N Broad St
                                              Philadelphia, PA 19130
                                              Sunday, July 1, 2007 at approximately 9:30PM

                                              Mezzi basil fusili with milk fed veal, ricotta salata and pear tomatoes

                                              Rabbit "casalinga" with pancetta, sage, brown butter and soft polenta

                                              And I had a glass of wine from Sardegna and Sicilia with each course respectly. My meal of the year (thus far).

                                              1. The crepes at the Midtown Farmer's Market. If you go, go early. We got the last 2 of the day, and it was well before closing time for the market. They are seriously good crepes with organic ingredients.

                                                Midtown Farmer's Market
                                                E Lake St & 22nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407, USA

                                                1. Fresh sweet corn, in season, from the St. Paul Farmer's Market.

                                                  1. So the best thing I've eaten was last night's dinner at Alma,

                                                    mixed greens - best salad ever
                                                    farro w/chick peas, lobster & calamari
                                                    pork tenderloin
                                                    apricot crosata

                                                    Seriously Fantastic. Every Bite.

                                                    14 Replies
                                                    1. re: St Paul Susie

                                                      Scallion pancakes at Teahouse in St. Paul. I discovered that you can't get them to go...They were like a totally different entity when we got them eating in. I think I could have those every day and never get tired of them.

                                                      Tea House
                                                      1676 Suburban Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                                                      1. re: cherrylime

                                                        I love those pancakes at Tea House II--the crispy, flaky exterior gives it a wonderful texture. I posted about that here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39366... They are slightly different than China Jen's in texture (who also won't do them "to go"), but I'm not sure is more "authentic." Both are delicious, though.


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          they did let us get them to go at TH2 but I don't recommend it; that 15 minutes from their kitchen to our table made a huge difference w/those pancakes..

                                                          We also had steamed/fried pork buns and a shredded pork pickled mustard soup. Everything was excellent. Service was also really great/perfect even. I really hope people keep going there so they make it it was a little slow yesterday when we were there (albeit at an odd time 2:30 sun aft) I just thought they'd be busier after the city pages review.

                                                          1. re: cherrylime

                                                            Ah, okay, I misunderstood about the "to go" part--I thought you were saying they weren't available to go at THII.

                                                            If you ask to get China Jen's scallion pancakes "to go", they always claim to be out of them. I think they just don't think they're good to go, so they won't do them. But, we've found the scallion pancakes are actually very good the next day, even cold! Astonishing, but true. I've never had them lukewarm, though. :).

                                                            I don't think Dara drives that much business to these little places--I think the cumulative word of mouth does. Even Ngon Bistro isn't that crowded on a Friday night and that review's been out a couple of weeks.


                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              I see that many people have been writing about Ngon. I was a bit excited and curious about this restaurant as I have been hearing so many good things about it. Well, I finally ate there last week because I was craving some Pho and I ended up disappointed.

                                                              The restaurant itself was very cute and surprisingly clean. I am normally used to eating at somewhere like Saigon (which has wonderful Pho but is nothing for ambiance). I must admit that I was a bit suspicious when I saw that all of the FOH servers etc. were Caucasian. Most of the Asian restaurants I go to are mom and pop places and it's usually family members who work there. Anyway, I decided to give the place a try, and was disappointed.

                                                              My Pho was good, but not great. The broth was tasty, but I had to ask my server to bring me both fish sauce and chili sauce. Normally these condiments are on every table at a place like Saigon. Also, I had to ask for extra basil three times as each time the server brought me something like three wilted leaves. I also had to ask for extra peppers because they gave me something like three when I had originally asked for both extra basil and peppers.

                                                              I also ordered the fresh spring rolls, which consisted mostly of lettuce and noodles. They were okay, but nothing special. I both like and expect more meat and herbs in my spring rolls.

                                                              My whole meal was something slightly over $13.00, which is chap, but not for Vietnamese food. I would much prefer to go to Saigon or even Pho Ca Dao, which I also just tried this past weekend.

                                                              Pho Ca Dao is nothing for ambiance, but serves a great bowl of Pho with a wide selection of meats. The broth was wonderful and there were plenty of veggies served along with the traditional condiments on the table.

                                                              1. re: mnfoodie1

                                                                Thanks for your report, although, I'm sorry you were disappointed. You're not the only one who's been disappointed by the pho at Ngon--I think pgokey also wasn't thrilled with it, if you read higher up in this thread.

                                                                I think it's very rich and nuanced, but that's just my preference for pho; I'm hardly an expert--and, I've only tried it once. I didn't feel the need to add more things to it, so the service issues you metnioned with the extra basil, etc., were a non-issue for me. I've found their service very flexible and atttentive in other matters. Others have also expressed that the spring rolls aren't that robust.

                                                                As much as I like their pho, I don't think it's their strongest dish, or, at least, it's not my favorite. My favorite dishes there are the duck confit appetizer, the sweet potato fritter appetizer, the ginger roasted chicken, bun tau hun (ginger glazed tofu & fresh shitaki mushrooms), the mung bean cheesecake, and the ginger creme brulee.


                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  Oh my god, I'm totally craving that duck confit. I'll definitely be back this week for it.

                                                                  I also found the service at Ngon wonderful - they were attentive and allowed us to taste several of the beers to find a good one.

                                                                  1. re: katebauer

                                                                    i love the duck confit too!

                                                                    to mnfoodie1-- sorry you were disappointed, but i think you have the wrong impression about ngon-- the chef-owner is i believe either the son or nephew of the folks that own caravelle on nicollet ave, and he's pretty much taking his restaurant family's stock (okay, a little pun intended) recipes and freshening them up with local produce and a light and imo brilliant use of unexpected spices in traditional vietnamese dishes. his wife & co-owner designed the space-- mom & pop, no? at least one time we dined at ngon our server was the chef's brother, & i assume there are other family members on staff as well-- i'm unsure as to how the ethnic breakdown of the serving staff relates to your impression of the "authenticity" of the establishment, but i fear you are holding ngon and a fine chef accountable to a possibly outdated expectation of what a vietnamese bistro "ought" to be. *stepping off soapbox now*

                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    For the record, I'm thinking I had a bad bowl. Your adjective of nuanced it dead-on for what I had, but - and I'm guessing since I barely know you - I'm pretty sure you would not describe my bowl of pho as rich. The broth was actually close to bland and watery. Meat was great, though.

                                                                    I will try it again at some point to see if I have a different experience to test this out. I'm wondering if they have consistency issues.

                                                                    1. re: pgokey

                                                                      Went to the Hmong Marketplace in St. Paul today and had amazing
                                                                      pork ribs in the foodcourt at the counter called "One Stop Deli" It's the one on the far left end. And actually, as amazing as the ribs were, the chili sauce served w/them was my favorite part. Obviously really fresh really really hot chilis. The kind of heat where you can taste the chilis not just the heat..They also had beef ribs that looked really good which we'll try next time. Maybe tomorrow...

                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      I go to Pho 79 on Nicollet to get rice noodle salad and pho. My standby favorite is the marinated grilled chicken with rice noodles and salad. No other place can match it. And I've eaten in all the noodle houses in the area.

                                                                      1. re: fred the fressor

                                                                        Yes, I like the pho at Pho 79, too, though I can't claim to have tried all of the noodle houses in the Twin Cities. I've eaten somewhere between a half dozen and a dozen of them, though.

                                                                        Since you're ambitious enough to have tried all the pho in the Twin Cities, perhaps you're also ambitious enough to provide us with pho rankings with criteria and detailed reports, a la Alice Patis (pho) or Melanie Wong (ramen):



                                                                        Could be fun, and would certainly be informative.


                                                                        1. re: fred the fressor

                                                                          Adding place.

                                                                          Pho 79 Restaurant
                                                                          2529 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                                                                          1. re: fred the fressor

                                                                            Yes, Fred, please do start a thread with details of your favorite pho and noodles in town!

                                                                            Re Grilled chicken - have you tried the version at Ngon? I had it last week and loved loved loved it. It's an upscale version of the dish at Pho 79.

                                                                            (And, to add to the "are they or aren't they? debate, Ngon was fabulous the night I was there - I had the tofu and mushrooms on noodles, and am very thankful to TDQ for the tip. This dish is wonderful.)


                                                            2. Fried sweet plantains at Brasa.

                                                              Harira at Mairin's Table

                                                              Lamb tartare at Alma

                                                              Lamb Saddle at Fugaise

                                                              Bryer's vanilla bean with blueberries and honey at my place

                                                              1. Choo Chee Curry with jumbo scallops at True Thai, followed by warm sticky rice and mango. More sticky rice and mango, please! Also tried the Green Papaya Salad, since it was a chow topic recently. Interesting. . . but I have to say that a fish taste on fresh, raw food is entirely different than a cooked fish taste.

                                                                True Thai Restaurant
                                                                2627 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: cinnamongirl

                                                                  I think True Thai's rendition of green papaya salad is pretty good, but not exceptional. The first taste sensation is, you're right, heavy on the fish sauce and the second taste sensation is heavily sweet. There should be a bit more nuance in there, in my opinion, with lime, garlic and other flavors, balancing out the fish sauce and the sweet.


                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    -Irish Moxie (Coffee Ice Cream, Jameson, Oreo, Toffee) Ice cream @ Izzy... I always get a pint, just enough for a couple days :)

                                                                    -Appetizer Plate @ Shish .. falafel, babag, hummus.. Mmmm

                                                                    -Frickles @ TownTalk

                                                                    -Sea Salt Chocolate Cookie @ Lucia's Bakery

                                                                    1. re: halomie

                                                                      I adore that Meza plate at shish - I could eat it every day.

                                                                      A new flavor (for me) at Izzy's I sampled was Capone - OMG - vanilla ice cream with Marscapone Cheese and a hint of black pepper. I've been dreaming of it ever since.

                                                                2. Solera's chilled pea soup with mint and spicy poached shrimp at the 2nd annual Taste of the Twin cities (7/17/07) was excellent The shrimp was cooked perfectly, tasty and neither dry nor raw. The soup was even better, sweet and tasted like peas, mint gave it a kick and it was rich without being heavy. And the shrimp and soup complemented one another very well.

                                                                  1. I got a bing cherry/rhubarb crisp last night at the newly opened Wayzata Eatery that was just killer. Crisps can easily get too sweet or gooey, but this was more like a sweetened granola -- a lot of texture and crunch to it, and a nimbly-blended mix of ingredients. It was served just out of the oven, too. Mmm.

                                                                    Also: the red curry mussels at Barbette. Their fries are just fantastic, as well.

                                                                    1600 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                    Wayzata Eatery and Wine Bar
                                                                    1179 Wayzata Blvd E, Wayzata, MN 55391

                                                                    1. I'm going to add the liver toasts I had with dinner one evening at Jay's Cafe in St. Paul. I described it more here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34570...


                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        Places link for Jay's

                                                                        Jay's Cafe
                                                                        791 Raymond Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55114

                                                                      2. We ate at the MGM's version of Safari Restaurant. The chicken curry I had with their bizbaz sauce was fantastic. I can't wait to eat there again.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: ike.

                                                                          Quangs-The Sea Bass Pho soup. Too bad they only serve this on weekends. I can't believe that you can get a sea bass entree for $8...They can't be making any money off this. It is a perfect medley of flavors of and texture.

                                                                          Bulldog NE- The truffle burger is incredible. If you have heart troubles stay away as I believe you might get a clot immediately from this rich burger. The fries are the best I've had in awhile and I recommend getting them dusted with fennel.

                                                                        2. Best Minneapolis suburb resturaunt experience we have had in 2007: Copper Blue, Lakeville.

                                                                          Worst Minneapolis suburb resturaunt experience we have had in 2007: Kami, Apple Valley.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: let

                                                                            There is a restaurant in the suburbs named after a Sugar record. How awesomely Minneapolis of them!

                                                                          2. Sweet plantains at Victor's 1959 Cafe!!!

                                                                            Victor's 1959 Cafe
                                                                            3756 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55409

                                                                            1. La Belle Vie In Minneapolis. Best chef in the Twin Cities. Runner up 112 Eatery (anything on their menu).

                                                                              112 Eatery
                                                                              112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                                                                              La Belle Vie
                                                                              510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Latinpig

                                                                                Turkey burger at Craftsman. Best Turkey burger I've ever had. One of the best burgers I've ever had. It was full of flavor, and very juicy.

                                                                                Craftsman Restaurant
                                                                                4300 Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                                                                1. re: pgokey

                                                                                  Pork with garlic sauce at Little Szechuan. While the dan dan noodles, green beans, and tofu and shrimp with chilies were all fine, the pork was just heavenly--nicely spicy, chock full of black fungus, with a lovely sour taste. I've had this dish many times before, but for some reason it really hit the spot last night. I would've licked the serving plate if I could have.

                                                                              2. I had Ma Po Tofu from the Chinese Dragon in Downtown Duluth a few days ago. Was it delicious! I ordered mine medium, and found it could have used a little extra spice. However, I didn't want to risk burning my mouth, not knowing what that specific restaurant considers "hot". When I ate everything together - the tofu, the ground beef, the bean sauce, the rice - it was absolutely wonderful. Even the two other guys (one of them who wouldn't ever order anything with tofu in it) at work liked it. Now I know what my favorite Chinese dish is!

                                                                                And yes, Bombay 2 Deli is awesome . I had their "samosa chaat" a couple of weeks ago, and it was wonderful. I actually ordered pav bhaji, but the kind lady at the counter suggested asked me if I had ever tried samosa chaat, to which I responded in the negative, and suggested I get that instead. Talk about wonderful! Strangely, it had very little resemblance to any samosa I've ever seen, constituted more like a soup.

                                                                                I love that place, the idea behind it, and their service. They need to open up a branch in Duluth!