Hoang Thien Y Deli on Eat Street, Minneapolis

One of the most singularly surprising things about the Twin Cities is that you can get authentic Vietnamese food as good as anything outside of the mother country. Hoàng Thiên Y, a hole in the wall in a Nicollet Avenue strip mall, is a good place to start if you’re not intimidated by long lists of foreign dishes and the sights and smells of a truly first generation restaurant. Lychee, durian shredded pork and black rice are just a few of the more intriguing foodstuffs that go into the restaurant’s menu, which is as inexpensive as it is provocative. Quality is relatively consistent, and service is friendly, if somewhat inattentive.

Pho Tau Bay is a much more full service experience, with a more fathomable menu, but the immersion factor (and lower prices) of Hoàng Thiên Y make it worth consideration.

BEST BET: The báhn mì sandwiches ($2.50 to 3.50) are well balanced and tasty as hell. A marinated pork or meatball version is exotically accessible; if you’d like to push your luck and get fully immersed, there’s a headcheese option.

Hoang Thien Y
Vietnamese on Eat Street, Minneapolis
2738 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
BAR: No
RESERVATIONS/RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN: Yes and Iffy
ENTREE RANGE: ($3-$10)

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of a book about Minnesota sandwiches and the people who eat them, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a daily video blogger for CHOW. His latest book is a guide to the food and restaurants of Minneapolis and St. Paul called the Food Lovers’ Guide to the Twin Cities. Norton has written about food for Culture: The Word on Cheese, Salon, Gastronomica, Popular Science, Saveur.com, Minnesota Monthly, and City Pages (as a weekly restaurant reviewer).

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