This week in the Tap: A broad survey of all the intriguing Asian-inspired offerings popping up in the greater metro area.
A Tsunami of Upscale Asian
Jun. Dumpling. Mrs. Dumpling. Kaiseki Furukawa. Young Joni. Tori Ramen (above). Second locations for Lu’s and Ha Tien. Rah’Mn. The list of recently opened or soon-to-open restaurants with an Asian focus is long and growing.
If the sun is setting on Continental-inspired, white-tablecloth fine dining, it’s simultaneously rising on the idea that — beyond sushi — Asian and Asian-inspired food be universally enjoyed and command a serious bill at the end of the meal.
What’s driving the trend?
- Ramen is getting its due. The idea that ramen — long regarded as a 79-cent cup of noodles for hungover undergrads — is a complex, potentially transcendental food with a rich heritage and a painstaking preparation has been gaining currency. People are starting to have opinions about broth. And the explosive success of places like Ramen Kazama, above, and Zen Box has kicked open the door to ramen not just as a stand-alone business concept, but as a dish that can be tacked onto any menu with a little bit of freedom to it.
- Upscale restaurants are getting more playful. Late-night ramen at Spoon and Stable (above) is one of the restaurant’s quirkiest and most charming features. And the upcoming World Expo series of specials at Meritage includes ramen (for Japan) and Peking duck (for China).
- Asian fare has a perception of healthfuless. While snarfling down a bowl of pork dumplings is probably only marginally healthier than ordering a pepperoni pizza, it’s true that much of the newly popular Asian fare has light / fresh / green elements that are encouraging amid the sea of sugar and carbs that Americans swim through daily.
- Collectively, we’re ready to explore. The acceleration of dining out as a pastime has created a population that’s increasingly ready to look around the corner and try what’s next. That may mean the death of chow mein and the probably healthy diminishing of mediocre sushi as diners get into house-made dumplings and carefully crafted broth.
- You can’t beat a good banh mi. The best banh mi — certainly dollar for dollar, and often in absolute terms — will likely always be made and sold at places like Ha Tien on University and Quang on Nicollet. But that won’t stop midrange and upscale restaurants from playing with the form, which is wonderfully rewarding if done well: the crackle of a light, crispy baguette, the creaminess of pate, the brightness of pickled vegetables and fresh herbs. It’s certainly one of Minnesota’s signature sandwiches at this point, and the faster we all recognize that and work on celebrating the best versions of the dish, the better off we’ll all be. — James Norton
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 email@example.com.
- Jun, 730 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis | Szechuan gone upscale in the North Loop.
- Bearcat Bar, 1612 Harmon Pl, Minneapolis | The former Third Bird is reinvented to be more accessible and affordable.
- Station Pizzeria, 13008 Minnetonka Blvd, Minnetonka | A former Bar La Grassa chef does upscale pizza.
- Can Can Wonderland, 755 Prior Ave N, St. Paul | Artist-designed mini-golf with beer, noshes, and Bittercube cocktails.
- Pajarito, 605 W 7th St, St. Paul | Via Dara: Opened by Tim McKee acolytes “Tyge Nelson and Stephan Hesse, most recently of Chino Latino and Libertine, respectively.” Receiving early accolades.
- Revival, 525 Selby Ave, St. Paul (former Cheeky Monkey space) | A second location for the popular fried chicken spinoff of Corner Table. The original location will also be expanding and offering takeout.
- Jellybean and Julia’s, 530 W Main St, Anoka | Barbecue and breakfast!
- Khun Nai Thai, 2523 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis | A new spot in the old Krungthep Thai space, opened by former Krungthep employees.
- Esker Grove, Walker Art Center | A Doug Flicker / Culinaire project is the latest crack at a dining solution for the finicky Walker space.
- Red Rabbit, 201 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | Red Cow owner Luke Shimp’s new spot offers “a variety of dishes including handcrafted pizzas, oysters, pasta, fresh salads and more.”
- Smith & Porter, 428 S 2nd St, Minneapolis | Two blocks from the Guthrie, featuring “evening dining with contemporary entrées and small plates, vegetarian options, and a full bar with a tailored selection of wines and locally crafted spirits and beers.” Helmed by Kirt Akerstrom, formerly executive chef at Red Cow. Breakfast and lunch will be available at the next-door Porter Cafe, due to open in early February.
- Young Joni, 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | A new wood-fired pizza and Korean spot by Pizzeria Lola / Hello Pizza boss Ann Kim. Here’s our (four-star) review.
- Dumpling, 4004 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis | Not to be confused with Mrs. Dumpling at Lyn-Lake. Some love for their food in the Hot Five.
- Tullibee, 300 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | Nordic fare from nationally known chef Grae Nonas at the Hewing hotel. We took a look at the food and beverages here.
CLOSED / CLOSING:
- Green Spoon
- :D-Spot (Maplewood) – The gourmet wings spot is reopening under the same ownership as a pasta + pho restaurant called Deconstructed.
- Five Watt (Roastery and Cafe), 2904 Harriet Ave S, Minneapolis | 2017 | Former Uptown Imports location.
- Mrs. Dumpling, 700 W Lake St, Minneapolis | Early 2017 | Not to be confused with Dumpling in Longfellow.
- The Cove, 1320 5th St SE, Minneapolis | Late January | Can poke succeed where crudo failed? Let’s find out.
- Cardigan Donuts, 70 S 7th St, Minneapolis | May | More action within the “fancy doughnut” sphere.
- 510 Lounge & Private Dining, 510 Groveland Ave, Minneapolis | Summer 2017 | Private event space and open-to-the-public lounge run by Chef Don Saunders (The Kenwood).
- Bad Waitress (second location), 700 Central Ave NE | Early 2017
- Barbecue Joint Name TBA, 816 Lowry Ave NE, Minneapolis | 2017 | A Kansas-City-style barbecue place “with no chairs and tables” opened by some combination of the Travail team.
- Kaiseki Furukawa, 30 1st St N, Minneapolis | January 2017 | Classic kaiseki (progressive small courses) dining. We can’t wait.
- Crisp and Green, 428 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis (former Sapor space) | Spring 2017 | Owned by restaurateur Ryan Burnet (Burch, Bar La Grassa); menu will feature salads and grain bowls. A Wayzata location, at 755 E Lake St, just opened.
- Utepils (formerly Bryn Mawr) Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave N, Minneapolis | Winter
- Barrel Theory Beer Company, 248 E 7th St, St. Paul | Early 2017 | As per the Growler: “A partnership between Surly Brewing Company’s former director of technology Brett Splinter, former Surly brewer Timmy Johnson, and CPA Todd Tibesar.” Our preview is here.
- The Lexington | Feb. 9 | After a years-long odyssey, the newest incarnation of the Lexington opens in early February.
- Rah’Mn, 300 Snelling Ave S, St. Paul | February | A new Chipotle-style build-your-0wn ramen restaurant by Tryg Truelson, formerly of Tryg’s.
- Brunson’s Pub, 956 Payne Ave, St Paul | Early 2017
- Black Stack Brewing, 755 Prior Ave N, St. Paul | February | Sharing a complex with Can Can Wonderland.
- J Selby’s, 169 Victoria St N, St. Paul | “hoping to open by January 2017” | Vegan restaurant that prefers to call itself “plant-based.”
- Keg and Case revitalization of the Schmidt Brewery, 928 W 7th St, St. Paul | Summer 2017 | Featuring restaurants by the teams behind Corner Table, Hola Arepa, and Five Watt.
- Bottle Rocket, 1806 St. Clair Ave, St. Paul | Soon | A reboot by the Blue Plate Restaurant Company of the former Scusi space with craft cocktails. Now hiring, which means open doors may be imminent.
- 11 Wells Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm’s Brewery, St. Paul | Winter | From the website: “We’ll have a full fledged cocktail room as well as a restaurant so come hungry and thirsty.”
Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond
- Copperwing Distillery, 6409 Cambridge St, St. Louis Park | February
- Deconstructed, 705 Century Ave N, Suite B, Maplewood | Late February | A new pasta and pho spot by the owner of :D-Spot.
- Baja Haus, 830 E Lake St, Wayzata | January 2017 | A second restaurant by Billy Tserenbat of Sushi Fix, focused on Mexican seafood and scratch margaritas.
- Bellecour, 739 E Lake Street, Wayzata (former Blue Point Location) | Spring 2017 | A second restaurant for the much-heralded chef owner of Spoon and Stable. This one will be French-brasserie style as per Rick Nelson.
- Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery (formerly Oude Oak) Midway Township | 2017 | Construction has started for this new sour beer-only brewery planned for just south of Duluth.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.