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Sep 10, 2007 07:20 PM

[MSP] Aribel's: Guyanan in Richfield

This past weekend, we tried Aribel's Restaurant (1120 E 66th St in Richfield). What a Chow find, if there was a prototypical Chowhound place, this would be it. It is a former Mexican restaurant that the owners are slowly remodeling tucked away in an otherwise non-descript area (although that may change when the nearby SuperTarget and Home Depot open). To call the atmosphere odd would be nice. (Some of the old Mexican decor is there, I swear the tables and chairs date to the early 1980s. At least they've repainted - apparently the previous owner of the place painted EVERYTHING black.)

We were really, really impressed. We were the only customers there on Sunday afternoon, and had a nice chat with the owner and his wife. They're very proud of their country, and their food. Guyana is part of South America, but more closely identifies itsself with the caribbean. They also have a large population of Indian and Chinese descent. Thus, the food is a fusion of all three: Caribbean, Chinese, and Indian.

We started off with an appetizer of fried dough made with chickpeas, and served with a homemade tamarind sauce. (On the menu, look for the appetizer that comes with 10 pieces) They sort of reminded us of hush puppies, but much lighter. They were a great carrier for the tamarind sauce which was sweet and tangy. I later found myself dipping anything I could find into that sauce - it was that good.

TCL ordered the vegetable lo mein. Take your typical American-Chinese Lo Mein, but replace the overwhelming soy sauce flavor with Indian spices. Add in a lot more vegetables (we were told that even the meaty versions have many more vegetables than the chinese version) and you have Guyanan Lo Mein. It was available with quite a few meats - next time, I think I'm going to have to have the Jerk Chicken Lo Mein (How's that for fusion?.)

I had the Chicken Curry. This was large chunks of bone-in chicken breast simmered in a caribbean curry broth (with a bit of Indian flavors as well). The chicken was perfectly cooked, and TCL and I soaked up the broth with our side order of their bread. (Again, I forget the name. It was a flatbread that was filled with ground chickpeas.)

The owner has worked in restaurants since he was a child. First in Guyana, then in New York, and finally here. He reccommended that we try their Beef Pepperpot, Cookup rice, or any of their fish dishes (they always have red snapper, and he said to ask if they have grey snapper). He imports his fish from Guyana (via New York) and his. He also promised to have a video about Guyana for us to watch, rather than the Indian music videos they usually play. (Saturday nights, they turn the place into a dance club that draws a diverse audience, mostly Indian, but also many from the caribbean, as they often feature live reggae.)

Aribel's Restaurant
1120 E 66th St, Minneapolis, MN 55423

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  1. AWESOME! i heard about this place a while ago, and it's just off the normal route we take anywhere, so we always forget about it. now i must go.

    i think they have a lunch buffet (or they used to). i tried calling a couple times to find out what was on it, but no one ever answered the phone :/

    how's the pricing? many good veg dishes, or all meat?

    1 Reply
    1. re: reannd

      Most entrees were under $10. There were quite a few veggie dishes, especially if you'll eat fish. Everything is made from scratch and to order, so if you're having trouble finding something, ask. (They asked us if we were vegetarian after we asked a lot of questions, TCL ordered some veggie stuff, and I was taking a while to decide what I wanted.)

      One other note - don't go if you're in a hurry. We were the only ones there, and it took quite some time to get our food as everything is done to order.

    2. Thank you for this report. Sounds like another fantastic discovery--I will put it on my list of places to try! I'm not sure whether I've has Guyanan food before!

      I applaud you for boldly going where no hound has gone before. (Now I'm not sure if that's Chowhound or Star Trek?) Discovery is the best part of Chowhounding and sometimes you eat some crummy meals along the way, but isn't it glorious when you find something wonderful and unusual?

      And, yes, I too am intrigued by the idea of jerk chicken lo mein. It's situations like these I want to point to later when I hear people diss some wonderful good they've tried because it isn't "authentic" enough due to ingredient substitution or borrowing techniques or flavors from various cuisines. This is a perfect scenario to remind us that "fusion" is a natural evolution and the results can be astoundingly good.


      1. We enjoy Aribel's and it is very close to our house. May want to consider a Chowdown there. Our daughter usually dances and plays with the owner's little girls when they stick their heads down from upstairs.

        A personal story about the building: before it was Aribels it was an okay mexican place for a couple years. Before that it was King Oscars. King Oscars used to advertise with coupons on the back of the receipt tape at the Rainbow down 66th, so my wife and I went to try it out one evening. There was actually a queue almost out the door, but we were the only customers under 65.
        Worst.Meal.Ever. Can you say "nursing home food?" Was mighty inexpensive, though!

        We are pleased to have Aribels in its place!

        1 Reply
        1. re: EarlOfSandwich

          Ate there yesterday. We were there on Saturday around 2 p.m. We were the only customers. Expect a long wait time as everything is made from scratch. The appetitizer the poster above mentioned was called something like poulaise, it was very good and the sauce was excellent. I had the pepperpot which was very interesting as far as flavors. I liked it as it is something very different. It was hot but not really hot like chinese sichaun. I also had the fried grey snapper battered in a hot sauce. It was good but could have been a little more crisp. That was my fault for coming at such a late time...The oil probably had to be reheated. The menu isn't that large but is very different and this place is worth a visit. Next time I would get the snapper stew.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. we live just down the block and get Aribels to go at least once a week. my wife gets the curried chicken all the time. i will mix it up. the pepper pot, lamb or beef curries, jerk chicken, beef or lamb fried rice. since we are regulars Leon and Chetranee know i like mine x-tra spicey. so it cooked that way for me plus i get a side of their hot sauce. and for the kiddies the chicken nuggets and fries are great.

            3 Replies
            1. re: trhymers

              Four of us had dinner at Aribel's last night. At 7pm we were the only customers, after a family of three left. We had great personalized service and a wonderful meal. We tried and shared the jerk chicken lo mein, the pepper pot beef, the shrimp stew and the curry chicken. We also had the appetizers described above (chick pea "hushpuppies") with the tamarind sauce. I could just slowly eat a whole bowl of this! What a treat everything was! Full of flavor, fall off the bone tender, as spicy as any of us wanted. The owner shared that he is planning to remodel in December, adding soundproofing so they can have live music without unhappy neighbors, and adding a full bar!

              I encourage everyone to go and try this place. He has a lot of pride in his cooking, and he should! He needs a bigger audience. And it is a great chow value...everything we had above, plus eight beers, was only $77.00!

              1. re: happysnacker

                Is the Jerk Chicken Lo Mein in a creamy coconut milk based sauce?

                1. re: jenniegirl

                  No it's just a thick rub on the meat.