Pandemic Takeout 57: Peninsula (Minneapolis)


After several weeks (months?) of saying we would soon be going back to Peninsula in Minneapolis to pick up some Malaysian food we finally did it this past weekend. Peninsula remains the major Malaysian restaurant in the Twin Cities metro. Indeed, I’m not aware of any other contender—which is not to say one might not exist. There is, of course Satay 2 Go in Apple Valley but it’s much smaller, in terms of both size and scope; and in any case we’ve always enjoyed Peninsula more. As I’ve noted before of Peninsula, they have an expansive menu but not everything on it is entirely to our taste. Over the years we have come to focus our meals there on a small subset of their Malay specialties. And on this occasion as well we stuck largely to our favourites. Some of them survived the 50 minute drive from the restaurant to our house a little worse than others but we had an enjoyable dinner anyway. Continue reading

Asian Mart (Burnsville, MN)


A couple of weeks ago I posted a detailed pictorial report on Rong Market in Richfield, whose focus is on Chinese items (and secondarily on Japanese and Korean as well). Today I have for you a report on a much smaller market in Burnsville which focuses on Filipino groceries, belying its generic name: Asian Mart. It occupies the exact location of the Thai market it replaced, Rearn Thai (which I never got around to reporting on). I believe the changeover happened two years or so ago. It may not seem very different at first when you go in but it is an entirely different market now. Unlike Rearn Thai they do not carry any produce; they make up for this by carrying a much larger selection of frozen meats and fish of interest to more than just the Filipino kitchen. They also carry a number of refrigerated Filipino prepared snacks etc.; and on weekends their deli offers a broader selection of hot dishes (currently takeout-only). I hope to stop in next weekend to pick up some of this food but for now here is a look at the market itself. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 56: Firebox Barbecue (St. Paul, MN)


I’ve been promising (threatening?) a pandemic takeout report from the St. Paul outpost of Firebox for a while now. This past weekend the stars finally aligned and I was able to go up to pick up a large order. I’m not sure what their hours were in the Before Times but at least during the pandemic they are only open in the evenings (see the posted hours in the slideshow below). Like most barbecue restaurants they have a compact menu—even more compact, in fact, than at either Ted Cook’s 19th Hole or Smoke in the Pit. We got almost everything on it. It was our first time eating their food and it seemed like it would be a mistake to not be comprehensive (also: we were being joined on our deck by two sets of vaccinated friends and so there were a lot of mouths to fee). Well, we had no regrets. Details follow. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 55: Basil Cafe (St. Paul, MN)


In my recent review of takeout from On’s Kitchen I noted that we would not go three months between Thai meals again and as it happens we didn’t even go three weeks. This past weekend we went back to University Ave. in St. Paul (the Twin Cities’ true Eat Street) to pick up another round of Thai takeout. Not to On’s again and not to Bangkok Thai Deli or even Thai Cafe either. In fact, we went to a place we’d never been before and which I’d not even really registered the existence of till someone recommended it to me in a discussion on the excellent East Metro Foodies Facebook page: Basil Cafe. Recommendations from strangers for Asian restaurants of any kind in the Twin Cities can be hit or miss—usually more miss than hit—and this is particularly true of Thai food, the preferences for which in the area seem to run towards the sweet and standard. And so I won’t deny that I was a bit skeptical going in. I am, however, very happy to say that we did in fact enjoy the food a lot. Here are the details. Continue reading

Rong Market (Richfield, MN)


If you thought some of my previous posts had an excessive number of photographs in them wait till you get a load of the slideshow in this one.

Back in December I’d posted a look at Saigon Market in Burnsville. On Facebook someone recommended that I also check out Rong Market in Richfield (in a strip mall on Nicollet, between 66th and 65th). I was chastened to discover that they’d apparently been located for a few years now in close proximity to the Costco we shop at in Burnsville, only having relocated to Richfield towards the end of last year. The employee I spoke to as I was paying for my purchases last Tuesday said that they moved because the Burnsville store was too small; he also noted that the new location puts them within easier driving radius of a larger segment of their core clientele. That core clientele is, of course, East Asian. Rong Market is primarily a Chinese store but those interested in Japanese, Korean and other East Asian ingredients will also find a lot there. And you will certainly find a lot more fish and seafood there than you will at any mainstream grocery. I do hope my excessive slideshow may encourage you to go take a look whether you are in their core clientele or not. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 54: Aroma Indian Cuisine (Bloomington, MN)


I’m going to keep a promise for a change. I said last week that this week’s pandemic report would be of either a return to Peninsula or a first outing at a new(er) Indian restaurant in Bloomington and I keep my word. This is a review of Aroma, a new(er) Indian restaurant in Bloomington. They opened in April 2020—talk about perfect timing—in the exact same location as the erstwhile Surabhi—a place whose lunch buffet I’d liked more than I’d expected to in 2019 even as I worried about their prospects given the desolate feel of the restaurant when I ate there. Of course, in 2021, many restaurants have no one in them. And even though Aroma is open for dining-in, when I arrived at 11.45 on a Saturday to pick up a large order there was nobody eating there. There were, however, clearly doing a brisk takeout business, which I was glad to see. Here’s what we thought of what we ate. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 53: Back to On’s Kitchen (St. Paul, MN)


Back in the winter we went 3 months between Thai meals, going after a very good lunch from On’s Kitchen in November on a long, unplanned and unfortunate fast that we only broke with takeout from Bangkok Thai Deli in February. We haven’t made a mistake like that since, having been back a month later in March to Thai Cafe. And, less than a month past that meal, we went back this past weekend to On’s Kitchen to pick up another large order to eat on our deck with friends. The weather this weekend was nowhere as warm as on the previous but as long as it isn’t snowy or icy or raining we’re eating outside with vaccinated and cautious friends every chance we get. This too was a good meal, if falling a bit short, on the whole, of November’s. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Kim’s Asian Market (St. Paul, MN)


We were back in St. Paul on Saturday for a pandemic takeout run—this time from On’s Kitchen (review coming on Tuesday)—and combined it with some quick Korean grocery shopping from Kim’s on Snelling. Despite the fact that we’ve been shopping here since pretty much our first month in Minnesota back in 2007 I’ve somehow never done one of my grocery store reports on them. And so here now is a quick look at what you can expect to find at one of the Twin Cities’ Korean mainstays, which sits across Snelling Avenue from both Pho Pasteur and Sole Cafe and only a few blocks away from the Twin Cities’ true Eat Street, University Avenue. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 52: Back to Homi (St. Paul, MN)


Those who read my pandemic takeout posts regularly know that we’ve been wanting and planning to get back to Homi for a while now. Something or the other has been getting in the way. We could have hit them up a week ago but the weather that weekend was not going to be conducive to outdoor dining and so we decided to do a Vietnamese meal (from Trieu Chau) by ourselves. This past weekend, however, was a different story. It was warm and sunny which meant we could return to pandemic deck lunching with friends—which in turn meant we could get a very large order from Homi, with most of our favourite dishes on it. And so we did. And it was good. Continue reading

Favourite Dishes Eaten in the Twin Cities Metro: Jan 1-March 31, 2021


In the Before Times I used to post a quarterly round-up of the top 5 dishes we’d eaten in the Twin Cities metro in the previous three months. I don’t think I posted any of those last year—it’s hard to remember through the pandemic fog. But here is a new edition that covers the first quarter of 2021. Through the pandemic I have damped down my normal critical impulses and have focused on the positives of all the meals we’ve eaten. This hasn’t actually required any fudging of the facts—all the meals we’ve eaten over the last year and change have been very tasty and very much appreciated. And so to continue to show our appreciation for these meals, this edition of the list is not simply restricted to the top 5 dishes but includes my two favourite dishes from each of our pandemic takeout runs so far this year. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 51: Trieu Chau (St. Paul, MN)

We’ve eaten a fair bit of Vietnamese food in this past pandemic year but somehow we hadn’t gotten back to the restaurant that has over the last several years been perhaps our favourite slinger of pho: Trieu Chau on University Ave. in St. Paul. Well, we fixed that this past weekend. I’m not sure what incarnations their service model has gone through in the last year but they are currently open for dine-in and takeout. We are, however, not yet open for dining in and so it was takeout only for us. I called in our order just after 10 am (which is when they seem to open even though their menu etc. says 11 am) and picked it up just before 11. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 50: A Midweek Grand Szechuan Feast


So the plan for last week’s pandemic takeout had been a return to Homi in St. Paul. But for tedious reasons we don’t need to go into—not least because it would involve my having to divulge my own idiocy—these got spiked on Wednesday. The options were no pandemic takeout last week or something midweek. The former option being clearly unacceptable we ended up doing takeout dinner on Thursday—and as a bonus we ended up getting food from Grand Szechuan. So winners all around and it turns out I was not an idiot after all but a hero. We’ll try to go back to Homi this week. In the meantime here’s a report on Sichuan excess. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 49: Back to Thai Cafe (St. Paul, MN)


After Mediterranean, Indian and Mexican meals in the past three weeks (at Gyros Grill, Godavari and El Triunfo) we were jonesing for something Southeast Asian and Thai in particular. Having eaten takeout from Bangkok Thai Deli relatively recently we were looking to go somewhere else. On’s Kitchen was the natural second choice but it turned out they were closed for one of their regular breaks (till today, I think). Then I thought that we might give Ruam Mit Thai another go—we weren’t overly impressed when we ate there a couple of times a few years ago but I recently received reports of improvement there under new ownership. I called and it turned out they too were closed on Saturday for maintenance. Then I though I would give Phi Chay, the successor to Supatra Thai (another place we didn’t think too highly off when we ate there some years ago), a go. But it turns out they’re only open on weekends. I thought about Thai Garden and Krungthep Thai but then decided to just go back to another tried and true place: Thai Cafe. And a good decision it was too as the meal turned out to be rather good indeed. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 48: Gyros Grill (Bloomington, MN)


We have been aware of the existence of Gyros Grill (on Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington) ever since we started shopping for Korean staples at Hana Market a couple of storefronts over. But for some reason we had never gotten around to checking them out. We finally fixed that this past weekend. We took a family walk around Lake Nokomis and then stopped at the little strip that houses them. While the missus went into Hana Market to pick up a few items I picked up the order I’d placed at Gyros Grill the evening before. I found a space much larger and brighter than the exterior might indicate and some very nice people behind the counter. The large order was ready and waiting and after the agony of smelling it in the car while waiting for the missus to get done at Hana Market and then on the 30 minute drive home I was starving by the time our pod-mates arrived for lunch. I am very glad to say that the food did not disappoint at all. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 47: Back to Godavari (Eden Prairie, MN)


Godavari opened in Eden Prairie last fall—the first and so far only Minnesota franchise of the broadly South Indian, more specifically Andhra chain that has locations outside major metros mostly on the east coast and increasingly in the midwest. I first reviewed a takeout meal from them last September. We really liked the food at that meal and when I posted my rankings of Indian restaurants in the Twin Cities metro later in the year I had them in the top tier (along with Indian Masala in Maplewood). We’ve been wanting to go back and try more of their capacious menu; and this past weekend we did just that. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 46: El Triunfo (Northfield, MN)


It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on Northfield’s house of Mexican deliciousness, El Triunfo. Which is not to say that we hadn’t eaten their food since my last report. Indeed, today’s pandemic takeout report covers things eaten over four meals. Since my previous report they’d opened for dining-in, closed it down again when the governor mandated it (not a given in these parts) but have not yet restarted it after the restrictions were once again loosened in January. They are still ticking along but business is not exactly booming. The food is as delicious as ever though and if you are in town or within easy reach I urge you to give them a call. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 45: Bangkok Thai Deli (St. Paul, MN)


It has somehow been three whole months since our last Thai meal. That was from On’s Kitchen on University Ave. in St. Paul (the Twin Cities’ true Eat Street, as I never get tired of repeating) and was a very good meal. Here now is a report on a large meal brought home from their peers, Bangkok Thai Deli, a little further up (or down, depending on your perspective) University Ave: Bangkok Thai Deli. We’ve got food from them earlier in the pandemic as well—back in the summer when it was possible to eat outside with friends. Now it’s best not to be outside in Minnesota. The last week and a half has been unfeasibly cold (the minimum today/Sunday is forecast for -24f and the maximum only at -7f). Thankfully, at a maximum of around 0f things weren’t quite that bad on Saturday when I drove up to pick up this meal. Here are the details. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 44: Fasika (St. Paul, MN)


I’ve been going on for a long time about how I’ve been jonesing for Ethiopian food. But it took almost a whole year of since pandemic restrictions hit the US before we finally got around to going up to the Twin Cities for some Ethiopian takeout. I’m not sure why it took so long but I’m glad we finally got around to it. In a sad twist, however, the dish that I have most been wanting to eat is one that we did not end up eating at this meal. Why not? You’ll have to read on to find out. Where did we get the food from? Quite appropriately from St. Paul’s Ethiopian institution, Fasika. Despite the missing dish it was a good meal. Continue reading