Origami Uptown’s Refreshed Menu and More

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Readers: Win The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food

The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a copy of The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food to the best tipster of January and February. The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Origami Uptown (new menu debuts this week)
1354 Lagoon Ave S, Minneapolis

For more than 20 years, Origami has been a local sushi powerhouse, known as one of the best places to dine omakase style — entrusting your menu to the chef and eating unexpected bites one after another. But change, of course, is a fact of life and Origami’s recently opened Uptown location is debuting a new menu this week designed to showcase the breadth of Japanese cookery.

“Sushi is very popular, and lot of people relate that to Japanese cuisine being popular,” says Origami Uptown General Manager Toyo Yokoyama. “And people will say: ‘Oh, I don’t feel like Japanese food because I don’t feel like sushi.’ But Japanese cuisine is so much more nuanced than that, and it has tremendous history.”

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The new menu dips into that history with an emphasis on items like carefully crafted miso soup (above) and a simple Koshihikari white rice side that was, for all its simplicity, absolutely delicious (we polished it off down to the last grain). It also moves forward with some unusual pairings. First and foremost, the restaurant is putting a remarkable amount of thought into pairing Italian wines with sashimi and sushi. This feels like an odd move until you consider how many Italian dishes revolve around fresh fish; taken as a whole, the peninsula’s native cuisine is far more evocative of Japan’s than it is of Olive Garden or Buca di Beppo.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

“A number of nice Italian restaurants [nationally] are utilizing sashimi on their menus because it pairs so nicely with Italian wines,” says Yokoyama.

A Barone di Valforte Passerina paired up with “Europa Suzuki” branzini matched butter with butter — the rich, mellow flavor of the wine rounding out the luscious, creamy taste of the fish.

Even nicer was the fresh, pear-like minerality of an Eric Louis Sancerre linking up with the clean, firm, neutral Japanese striped jack. The wine provides bright flavor and the fish lends strikingly dense and satisfying texture to the pairing.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Challenging textures also seem to be part of the new Origami game plan. We very much liked the maguro yamakake (marinated cubed yellow fin tuna with grated mountain yam, $9, above left), although the mountain yam’s foamy, gelatinous texture will throw some diners off. We thought the mellow yam turned the tuna’s flavor in a direction that was buttery and rich. The menu’s description leads off with the phrase “adventure points!” — fair enough.

Takowasa (chopped raw octopus with wasabi soy, $6.80, above right) was slick, slippery, and bright, spiked up by refreshing slices of cucumber and burning with an aggressive wasabi kick. Again: this will divide crowds. Ours was “pro.”

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Yakisoba with fried tofu and Asian mushrooms ($10) was a winter pleaser, full of contrasting textures and a deep, abiding funky earthiness that turned what could have been a bland dish into an umami-fest. A strong showing by cabbage and onions reinforced the overall concept: rustic comfort.

On the beverage front, we were wowed by Iichiko Shochu (which Forbes called “The best spirit you’ve (probably) never tasted“). A barley-distilled spirit that evokes vodka with more soul and an almost apple-like kick to it, we took ours with ice and savored it with some delicate and sublime miso-glazed cod ($13.50) and used it to wash down some unfortunately leathery kalbi beef shortribs ($8.50).

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Our tour of the new menu concluded with a tasting of four Japanese whiskeys, which ranged from the sweet and balanced Hibiki 12 (a new favorite) to the big, bold, oily, smoky Hakushu 12.

We thought we knew Origami. Origami Uptown, however, seems to be in the midst of transforming into a profoundly delicious new thing. We’ll be back.

House of Curry (Now Open)
3420 150th St W, Suite 119, Rosemount, MN

Initial buzz (on Yelp and beyond) looks very good for House of Curry, a Sri Lankan restaurant now open in Rosemount. We’ll be making the drive to see if this purveyor of kottu, dal curry, deviled shrimp, and more lives up to the hype.

NOW OPEN

Joe Krummel / Heavy Table
Joe Krummel / Heavy Table
  • Hammer & Sickle Vodka Bar, 1300 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis
  • Sonora Grill, (second location) 3300 E Lake St | Dec. 20, 2013
  • A Cupcake Social, near 38th St and 28th Ave | November 2013
  • Norseman Distillery, 1101 Stinson Blvd., Minneapolis, MN
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table

CLOSED / CLOSING:

  • Tracy’s Saloon and Eatery | Closed for renovation until mid-to-late January 2014
  • La Chaya Bistro, 4537 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis
  • Serlin’s Cafe, 1124 Payne Ave, St. Paul
  • Sahara, 408 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis (now Baarakallah Restaurant, different ownership)
  • Turkey to Go, 56 E 6th St, St. Paul
  • Mediterranean Deli, 523 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Lift Coffee and Treats, 451 Stinson Blvd, Minneapolis
  • The Bikery, 904 4th St S, Stillwater
  • True Thai, 2627 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis | A re-opening is promised.
  • Sally’s Saloon and Eatery, 712 Washington Ave SE | Closed for remodeling until summer 2014.
  • Buster’s on 28th, 4204 S 28th Ave, Minneapolis | Temporary closure due to fire.

COMING UP:

Minneapolis

  • The Salad Bar, 40 S 7th St (Skyway level), Minneapolis
  • Kyatchi, 3758 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Little Szechuan Stadium Village, 304 Oak St SE, Minneapolis
  • Lyn 65 Kitchen and Bar, Richfield
  • Mango Sushi and Desserts, 233 Cedar Ave | 2013
  • The Triton, 1610 Harmon Pl, Minneapolis
  • Betty Danger’s Country Club, 2519 Marshall St, Minneapolis | Early Spring 2014
  • Coup d’├ętat, Uptown Minneapolis
  • Day Block Brewing Company, 1105 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis | Brewing now, opening soon
  • Russell and Desta Klein projects: Brasserie Zentral, Cafe Zentral, Foreign Legion wine bar, wine shop to be named, Soo Line Building | 2014
  • Heyday, 2702 Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis | Opens February 2014
  • La Fresca, 4750 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Ling & Louie’s Kitchen, 9th St and Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
  • The Nicollet Diner, 1428 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Tiny Diner, 1014 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.822.6302
  • Unnamed Gastrotruck restaurant, 2400 University Ave NE, Minneapolis | Opens 2013
  • Rocky and Shem’s Ice Cream Shoppe, 56th St and Chicago Ave, Minneapolis | Opens 2013

St. Paul

  • Saint Dinette, Lowertown, St. Paul | Opens April
Courtesy Urban Growler
Courtesy Urban Growler

Greater Twin Cities Area

  • Peace Coffee Coffee Bar, Lakewinds Coop, Richfield, MN | June 2014
  • Victor’s, 205 Water St, Excelsior, MN | Spring 2014
  • Maple Island Brewing Co., Stillwater, MN | May 2014
  • LTD (Live the Dream) Brewing, 812 Mainstreet, Hopkins, MN | March 2014
  • Patrick’s Bakery Tarte Flambee restaurant, I-94 & Hemlock Ln, Maple Grove, MN | January 2014
  • Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors brewery expansion and taproom | 2014
  • Jordan Brewery, Jordan, MN | 2013
  • Tin Whiskers Brewing Co., Roseville | Opens 2013
  • Travail and The Rookery, Robbinsdale | Opens fall 2013
  • Crooked Pint Ale House, Apple Valley; another location possible at 40th St and Lyndale Ave

The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

Readers: Win The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food

The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a copy of “The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food” to the best tipster of January and February. The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

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