Lekali Pasal: A Nepali Store in the Hmongtown Marketplace (St. Paul. MN)

I happened upon Lekali Pasal in mid-May, the last time I was at Hmongtown Marketplace and have been meaning to write it up briefly ever since. Well, better late than never. I didn’t actually go looking for it. I had a friend in town from Bombay and took her to Hmongtown Marketplace. While wandering the outdoor market, vaguely South Asian signage caught our eyes and when we investigated it turned out to be a Nepali store. Now it’s true I hadn’t been to Hmongtown Marketplace for a few years but I think this place is relatively new. At least I’d like to believe that I’d otherwise have noticed it. Anyway, here’s what you can find there. 

It’s located on the outside of the market. That is to say, there’s no way to get to it from the interior of the section of the marketplace it’s in. And that section is the one without the primary foodcourt, the one with the indoor vegetable market area. The entrance is right behind the outdoor vegetable market. This was an exciting find for me as I’m not aware of any Indian markets in St. Paul and it’s nice to have the option to stop in to get an essential or two while in St. Paul for other things. Well, this isn’t an Indian market either, I hear you say. That’s true, but they carry a lot of things that the Indian kitchen uses (Nepali food is on a continuum with some North Indian cuisines) and indeed they carry a number of Indian brands of spices and lentils and whatnot.

While not a large store, it’s not tiny either. And unlike most Indian markets elsewhere in the Twin Cities (like TBS Mart), they sell more than food and food preparation-related things. They have an extensive section for clothes and you can also buy shoes and musical instruments and Nepali wall art and so on. By the way, in case you’re wondering about the name, “pasal” means shop or store, and “lekali” indicates a highland or mountainous region (or so my Nepali friends tell me). I’m assuming St. Paul has a decent sized Nepali population. Not only is this non-tiny store in business but they also display ads for Nepali cultural events and the like. And come to think of it the ever-popular Everest on Grand in St. Paul is also a Nepali restaurant.

Anyway, here’s a relatively abbreviated slideshow for a change. It will give you a sense of what the store is like. And maybe it will give you one more reason to visit the excellent Hmongtown Marketplace. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.

Later this week I will conclude my reports on formal distillery tours on our trip to Scotland in June, with a detailed look at Tomatin. Next week I’ll have a review of a recent dinner at Tenant, the successor restaurant to Piccolo in Minneapolis. It’ll be back to St. Paul food after that for a couple of weeks. And, of course, there’ll be a steady trickle of whisky reviews.


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