Here are the five best dishes I ate in the Twin Cities metro area for the period from April to June. Of course, since I was gone for almost all of June, it’s really my list of five best dishes eaten in April and May, but that’s just a detail. (See here for my list for the first quarter of the year.). It covers the spectrum from chaotic food court in a market to fine dining in a tony Minneapolis neighbourhood. And it covers a wide range of cuisines and geographies. Represented here are Mexican, Thai, Lao and Sichuan dishes, and even the fine dining dish incorporates Chinese flavours. I’m breaking the guideline in my first post against including dishes from restaurants whose menus change often. But the dish from my dinner at Tilia that’s included here was both very, very good and is still available as per their website. So at least as of now, you can still go eat all these dishes.
In reverse chronological order of eating, the dishes are:
- Spicy and sour crystal noodles at Lao Sze Chuan: We ate at Lao Sze Chuan with a large group of friends a month ago and quite liked the meal as a whole. This was the missus and my favourite dish, though this opinion was not shared by everyone at the table. More sour than spicy, this vinegary noodle dish is just the thing for a hot summer.
- Shrimp with peas, fermented black bean, spicy scampi sauce and grilled scallion at Tilia: my meal at Tilia in May did not get me very excited on the whole, but this dish is just great. If I could put up with the noise levels at the restaurant, I’d go and make a dinner off two orders of this starter.
- Khao poon from Mama’s Fusion at Hmongtown Marketplace: Khao poon, a Lao/Hmong dish that crosses borders in Southeast Asia, is something we’d never eaten before coming to Minnesota and it’s now one of our favourite comfort foods in the area. A large number of restaurants (including Thai restaurants) in the area do it well, but in this period the best I ate was this unassuming version from Mama’s Fusion in the Hmongtown Marketplace food court. I think it’s listed as “Coconut-Curry Soup” there. Go have a bowl today.
- Khao soi at Bangkok Thai Deli: No other version in the Twin Cities of this iconic northern Thai curry noodle soup comes close to Bangkok Thai Deli‘s offering. A large bowl comprising of egg noodles in a mild chicken curry with coconut milk and a lot of chicken, this is great stuff. Don’t forget to squeeze the lime over before mixing it all in.
- Tripa at Andale Mercado: We enjoyed everything we ate at Andale Taqueria in April, but it’s the tripe that stands out in my memory. You can get it in plate form or in tacos, but either way you will get perfectly braised tripe that is crisped up very nicely right before serving. Wonderful mix of textures and seasoned very well.
I’ll pick up again with the Twin Cities food scene in July. Today, go join a Families Belong Together march near you and then go reward yourself with a bowl of khao poon or khao soi or a plate of tripe!