MSP-Ethnic near Downtown Minneapolis
And Seafood Palace...which we like for Chinese Food (although our favorite Chinese restaurant is Little Szechuan in St. Paul)
2523 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
Recommendation: Very Good. This lesser known Chinese restaurant serves top notch Chinese food with quality seafood dishes and gives places like Rainbow a run for their money. Great place for Chinese Hot Pot.
Seafood Palace is located on Minneapolis’ Eat Street. The restaurant is clean with typical Chinese restaurant décor – mostly bare walls, a few Chinese symbols, some red lanterns, and pleasing Chinese music in the background. There are a few seats in the back room that face Nicollet Avenue and are great for people watching. This place is also popular for Chinese wedding receptions and birthdays as they have the capacity to handle large groups. In addition to the daily buffet (which looked pretty boring/unoriginal to us), they have a long menu (140+ dishes) and also offer Chinese Hot Pot during certain winter months. Our sever couldn’t tell us exactly when the Hot Pot was offered but we’ve heard it’s between December and March (call before you go). We’ve done Hot Pot here once and it is a lot of fun to do with a large group of friends. Hot Pot is like Chinese fondue and consists of a simmering pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table by the diners. Ingredients such as thinly sliced meat (beef, chicken, pork), leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, and seafood (jumbo shrimp, scallops) are laid out in buffet style. Diners fill up their plates and bring them to the table where the dunking/cooking begins. They offer a few different sauces to dip the cooked food into.
In addition to the large menu, Seafood Palace also has a special weekday lunch menu that is served with a soup for less than $5. All three dishes we tried were part of a handful of dishes that were the “Chef’s Suggestions.” The Honey Walnut Shrimp ($12.95) had lightly tempura fried shrimp covered with a white creamy sweet sauce (mayo base). The Walnuts were crispy and coated with sugar. It was an excellent dish. Another great dish was the Sweet and Spicy Baby Beef Ribs ($12.95). It came with fried red chili peppers so you could turn the spice level up or down based on your preference. The sauce was spicy and sweet, the ribs were crispy and not too fatty. The Fried whole Walleye ($30) in Black Bean sauce was remarkable. Note that they bring the entire fish out…head, eyes, tail, the whole lot. The sauce was very flavorful and the fish tasted fresh. Even though it was a large fish (could feed 2-3), we thought the price was a bit steep. Shuang Cheng in Dinkytown offers similarly fresh and flavorful fish for about $20.
$$. Street parking on Nicollet Avenue. Free parking available across the street at Truong Thanh Market, 2520 Nicollet Avenue.
And Nalapak...our favorite Indian restaurant. Its a little further away (10-15 minutes up Central Ave)
Nalapak (formerly Udupi Cafe)
4920 Central Avenue
Columbia Heights MN 55421
Category: Indian (South Indian/Vegetarian/Vegan)
Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
Recommendation: Very Good…South Indian comfort food and a haven for vegetarians/vegans. This restaurant is one of our favorites in the Indian food category.
Nalapak (formerly Udupi) serves delicious South Indian food, which is a rarity in Minneapolis (most Indian restaurants here cater to the North Indian palate with their naans, chicken curry, and tandoori meats). The buffet is a steal for around $10 and allows you to try different dishes without having to order off the menu. Although the restaurant itself is nice from the inside (tiled floor, fireplace, popular Hindi music in the background), the location (on Central Avenue by I-694) is not ideal and the windows have blinds on them, so you can’t look outside.
The buffet has a changing mix of curries, soups, fried veggies (pakoras), and lentils but when here, you must try the Idli (fluffy white patty made with rice and lentils), Dosai (pan fried crêpes stuffed with spicy potatoes and onions), and Vada (deep fried savory donut made with lentils and spices). All are served with Sambar (broth made with lentils and vegetables), Coconut Chutney, and a spicy Tomato Chutney. If you do the buffet, the servers will bring fresh dosais directly to your table. They also serve drinks like the Mango Lassi, which is excellent. Desserts are the usual fare you find at most Indian restaurants (Gulab Jamun, Rice Kheer, etc). Try their appetizer, Chat Papri (Crisp flour cookie sprinkled with chickpeas & marinated with Indian spices & sauces). This appetizer is commonly available in street corners in India and is a local favorite.
$. Reservations are typically not required as they have plenty of seating capacity.
Update (February 20, 2008) – Another fabulous experience at Nalapak. We went for dinner and it looks like the restaurant is going through a very positive image overhaul. Our meal was served in simple white square plates that were very classy, especially for an Indian restaurant. Servers were attentive and the food was brought out quickly…we actually felt rushed because the courses came out in quick succession and the next course was on top of us before we had finished the earlier one. The Punjabi Khana Thali (combination dinner $17) came with one Samosa, Tomato Soup, one drink, Chole Bhatura, and one Gulab Jamun for dessert. Chole Bhatura is a traditional North Indian dish made of spicy chickpeas and served with a fried bread called Bhatura. The Chole were very flavorful but the Bhature was not very authentic. It didn’t have the dense chewy texture we are used it. The Gulab Jamun was one of the best we’ve had in the Twin Cities. We really liked the Sweet Lassi drink (a traditional drink made of thin yogurt and spices) – if you haven’t tried it before, it’s a must. The Masala Dosai – rice crepe filled with potatoes and onions ($7.49) was excellent. The crepe had magnificent texture with crispy edges and soft center, and the filling was delicious. The accompanying Sambar and Coconut Chutney did not disappoint.
Way too many to mention so I will post a choice reviews off our blog... Here's Quang (Vietnamese)
2719 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Rating (Scale 1-10, with 10 being the highest):
Recommendation: Very Good. This Eat Street favorite serves up great Pho soup…and a whole host of other tasty authentic dishes.
No other Vietnamese place in the Twin Cities gets talked about as much as Quang…and for good reason. This sparsely decorated restaurant is always bustling and if you go there during normal lunch or dinner hours, be prepared to wait. The good news is that the restaurant is quite large, the food comes out of the kitchen in a hurry, and the servers are always running to clear tables and keep patrons moving. The crowd is diverse and you see as many Asians as Americans, which is usually a good sign at any ethnic restaurant.
The menu is authentic and diverse but there are a few things on there that are favorites with us. The Pho (noodle soup) is the specialty here and we have tried both the beef and the chicken phos. The soup consists of a flavorful clear broth, served with rice noodles and meat (you have some options here). The servers bring a side of jalapeno peppers, sprouts, lime wedge, and Thai basil that you can add to your soup. We add all of these in plenty because it adds to the flavor and texture of the dish. The traditional way to eat this soup is with the chopsticks in one had and a soup spoon in the other – once you get the hang of it, you’ll have fun. The Spring Rolls are served with a hoisin sauce and have a very light and fresh flavor. Try the Lemongrass Chicken which is nicely flavored for the American palate. The Iced Coffee, made traditionally with Chicory Coffee and sweetened condensed milk is nice and strong. Quang’s also serves Vietnamese Sandwiches, which are real popular for takeout.
$. Entrees are under $10.
Update (April 9, 2008) – A coworker who was really interested in trying Quang convinced us to visit for a weekday lunch. The restaurant was busy as usual and although we were seated quickly, it took a few minutes for a server to notice us. We decided to skip the Pho this time and focus our attention on some other dishes. We ordered both the Spring Rolls as well as the Egg Rolls and both were excellent – the former has subtle flavors with a chewy texture while the latter was hot and crispy (try them both and compare). I also thought highly of Quang’s Original Pork Chop platter – the meat had a nice char quality but wasn’t dry. If you’ve never had the Vietnamese Sandwich, you’re in for a wonderful surprise…think Parisian baguette packed with Asian ingredients and flavors. The Chicken Sandwich was served on a crispy French bread with pate, mayo, chicken and some veggies – it’s a staple in Vietnam. To accompany the meal we ordered a couple of Bubble teas – both the Hazelnut and Strawberry teas were awesome…I especially love the chewy texture of the tapioca balls and sucking them through the large straw! Once we ordered the food, service was quick and conscientious. We paid about $12 per person for quite a bit of food.
One more for Stadium Village:
Caspian Bistro (Persian) at Washington & University - and there's a parking lot in the back!
Oh, and there's also a branch of the Jasmine family of restaurants: Jasmine Orchid.
304 Oak St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Hong Kong Noodle
901 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
610 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
2418 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Bona Vietnamese Restaurant
815 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
211 Oak St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
I second churchka's recommendations, and add these:
- Solera (Spanish)
- Vincent (French)
- Kramarczuk's (Polish/Ukrainian)
- Punch (Italian/Neapolitan-style pizza)
- Bombay 2 Deli (Indian)
- Safari (Somali/Middle-Eastern)
- Christo's (Greek/Cypriot)
For more ideas, see tvdxer's list of restaurants with "less common" cuisine:
P.S. Here are Places links for addresses and info.
Vincent A Restaurant
1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Punch Neapolitan Pizza
210 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Bombay 2 Deli [Closed - May Reopen in Different Place
]1840 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Christos Greek Restaurant
2632 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
1410 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Kramarczuk Sausage Co
215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN
And here are the Places links for churchka's reqs.
Quang Pastry & Deli
2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Holy Land Bakery & Grocery
2513 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
Pho Tau Bay
2837 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Taqueria Los Ocampo
417 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Taqueria La Hacienda
334 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
311 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine
2608 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Up Central there are good Indian and Middle Eastern places. I particularly like Holy Land, but I know there are mixed reviews.
Up Nicollet I recommend Quang, Pho Tau Bay and Peninsula.
If you can make it all the way to Lake, I recommend La Taqueria la Hacienda, Tacqueria Los Ocampos and Pineda Tacos.