Tanpopo Noodle Shop [msp]
I hear it often mentioned, but seldom reviewed. Wife and I went last night, and I thought it was very good.
We arrived shortly after opening, and got a great table in a lovely room. The simple layout takes advantage of the warehouse space, but great lighting adds the right amount of intimacy.
We started with the Agedashi tofu and edamame. This is a must-order. The light,crispy tofu cubes drink up the signature broth, while papery whispers of fish actually curl up and swirl above (presumably on account of the steam). It's like a tasty version of the plastic bag scene from American Beauty.
The edamame was kind of an afterthought, but it's the best I've had. Tender, with a hint of sweetness. There was no soy sauce for dipping, and none was needed.
For entrees, we had the wild mushroom (topped with omelette) soba and the chicken udon. Both come in japanese-style broth, which is complicate and pungent without being overwhelming. I prefer the soba to the udon, though I didn't get to the latter until they had been soaking for quite a while. The mushrooms were exceptional, complimenting the taste of the broth without embracing it, and the chicken and egg were just right.
We finished with the pumpkin creme brulee, which doesn't seem to have been made on site. The shell was way to hard, and the custard was part warm and part cold. It was a bit of a disappointment, on doesn't seem to be in the Tanpopo wheelhouse.
For the price point ($40 including tea for two), this is some great stuff. This place gets a lot of praise here, and it is well warranted.
Tanpopo Noodle Shop
308 Prince St, Saint Paul, MN 55101
We love this place. The room does not seem fancy, but it's simple and restful.
I usually have the udon with shrimp tempura. The broth is complex, the accompaniments like the greens are very fresh. With the shrimp udon you get two large shrimp tempura perfectly cooked on the soup.
Consistently very good.
It is, isn't it. I've never had a bad meal there, and I think the restfulness you've mentioned is part of the reason. I especially like it in winter, on evenings when the snow is coming down outside the window and Tanpopo feels like a refuge with its tealights and bowls of steaming broth and soba.
those chicken wings are dh's "gotta have" menu item too. they are delicious. my gotta have is the spinach gomaae. we never have had a bad experience at tanpopo and probably used to eat there once or 2x a month for some time and it is consistently good. i love the room and the simple flowers on each table.
Just went during the Art Crawl, and also tried the pumpkin brulee - don't know what the problem was exactly, but we had to send it back - it wasn't set. yum yum, raw eggs.
Everything else exquisite, as per usual.