If you spent any time eat’n with me, at some point we’re going to go eat Korean food. I just can’t get enough Korean these days. Something about the BBQ flavors, liberal use of spic
es, delicious broths seasoned with tons of red pepper, 5 kinds of kimchee and fresh chopped mushrooms and scallions.. and of course lots of use of eggs in main courses.. makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Oddly enough, the one member of our family who actually is 100% Korean, native of Pusan, who wears a yinyang necklace and regularly wears a Korea national soccer jersey, doesn’t really like spice so much and as such.. kinda isn’t wild about Korean food. More for me.
One Friday a month a few work mates and I head out for what we call “noodle lunch”. This started a few years ago when I was lamenting to an Asian coworker of mine that there just wasn’t any good Asian food in the Twin Cities. Coming from San Francisco my standards, admittedly are a bit high. Asian food BTW, my favorites by and large. Remember, at the time I moved out to Agrestic Valley here, suburban hell where Asian means Chinese or Sushi and the source is Leanne Chin or Target.
Leanne Chin a poor substitute for authentic cooking from any Asian cuisine. It’s fusion, meaning Chinese food so altered for the Minnesota palate that you could open a Leanne Chins in Seoul or Beijing and call it “Jacks Home Cooked American Food” and no one would bat an eye. They’d think the over salted deep fried spiceless stuff served there was what we American’s eat, and by and large they wouldn’t be far off.
To that end, I, and hold your breath here, I found myself complaining. (Really you ask, Sank complain?) and was told by my friend that the food I craved was here, I just had to go looking for it. And so, with a couple other adventurist eaters we started in what I consider Food Central for Minneapolis; Nicollet Street, uptown area. This is a kind of up and coming area in Minneapolis that the city has started marketing as “Eat Street” thanks to the concentration of small ethnic places to eat.
And believe me, there’s a lot, and they represent most of the ethnic groups that have settled in Minneapolis. Nicollet is where they land because of course, rents are cheap.
So, we’ve had Chinese, Vietnamese (lots of Vietnamese), Thai, Korean, Afghani, Native American and Kosher Deli just to mix stuff up. We’ve literally crawled our way through every hole in the wall, dumpy looking place we can find. We’ve dined with rodent traps under the table, and water stains on the ceilings, we’ve tried everything and turned our noses up at nothing. Every place gets one chance. Some get many.
A few of my favorites on Eat Street, just in case you find yourself up here.
Evergreen- Chinese food from Taiwan. The couple that runs this place are Buddhists and have created a fantastic vegetarian menu that is about as good as it gets. Specifically Mock Duck. They also have meat dishes if you’re so inclined. Basement of a building so it’s a little windowless. On Saturday’s the place is packed with Taiwanese ex-pats from the U I’m thinking dining on what my Taiwanese friend tells me is “street food” in Taiwan. Only downside.. meals are made to order so it takes a while to get served here.
Jasmin Deli Look up “hole in the wall” and you’re going to probably find a picture of this place. 4 or 5 tables. This is a Vietnamese place with the best spring rolls in the Twin Cities IMHO and a noodle soup with broth that you’d want to take home and drink from a cup if you could. Family run business. A Sank Favorite.
Quangs- Big huge Pho Palace where you go for Pho. Nuff said.
Those are the Eat Street Favorites. There’s more and there good as well, but if I had to stop at three…
What’s not represented on Eat Street, my favorite; Korean. For Korean there are a few places in town including the locally famous and what I’m told is super authentic,
Mirror of Korea on Snelling in St. Paul’s little three block Korea Town. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only eaten there once, a long time ago, with a friend of mine, an older Korean gentleman who used to visit us
from Seoul when he was America on business. I did some business with him years ago. Unfortunately the nice older woman who runs Mirror was so appreciative of a fellow from the “old country” who barked orders and clapped his hands when he wanted something, Korean Man style. They got into quite an argument and, though I don’t speak Korean I’m pretty sure her message “Not in this country M”F” and we had to leave.
Last year we discovered this place, right next to the new stadium at the U, which has no name other than, Korea. Serious.
As you can tell it does have the hole in the wall quality I love. I headed over with a buddy for our Monthly Lunch. Now the rest of crew were affected by some kind of temporary lameness that made them suddenly insane and for some reason they couldn’t make over the U.. Cluster of some kind. But my pal and did, and once again, if this isn’t one of the best places to eat in town.. and lunch was $7.00. Get the picture. We went in at 11:45, just before the lunch rush, the place was 100% populated by Asian kids who I’m guessing were hankering for some home cooking. Most of them were speaking Korean so I assumed.
I ordered Chopcahe- Clear rice noodles tossed with bulgogi, seaweed, mushrooms and scallions. It was delish. We also had a Korean stable that I make, bimbimbop- rice, egg, beef veggies and lots of red pepper flakes. They do it well at the Korea place. We also ordered the grilled mackerel, something I’ve been wanting to try. It was very good, especially dunked in Chigae broth from the soup. Kimchi Chigae is a soup made with kimche. The broth is a rich orange color due to the pounds of spices and hot peppers they put in it. It usually has an egg added and some noodles. This soup is quite the taste explosion. There’s a LOT going on in it. Fact is, I’m quite certain it would double as a cure the for the most wicked of hangovers between the forehead mopping heat and cacophony of tastes that would drive out even the most stubborn of demons.
So there ya go. Eat’n Wit Da Fat Man- Korean style. I’m ready to go anytime you are.