Bites Nearby: In Minneapolis, Kinsen Does Noodles Right
Eclectic array of Southeast Asian flavors
No matter what Italians claim, Asia deserves honors for inventing noodles, and lately, for stretching the category with inventive flavor combinations.
Friend and sister food/travel writer Carla Waldemar got to choose the place for our dinner/gab-session, and I was delighted her selection was the latest restaurant to tangle with the noodle concept, Kinsen Noodles & Bar, 1300 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis.
Kinsen Noodle is tucked between the Lagoon Theater and Bar Abilene. Lucky for us, we were recently there for the "soft" opening when $3 beers and 20 percent off food made it soft on our wallets.
Personally, I enjoyed the tranquility of being there on a Wednesday night when half the tables were filled and our waitress Lisa had time to chat. She said the restaurant features all natural meats, raised in the close-by region, such as from Thousand Hills Cattle Company and Heritage Berkshire Farms.
And she told us that the menu is eclectic, featuring Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian and other Southeast Asian flavors.
We put her to work, bringing dishes as quickly as our chopsticks could handle them. The menu offers a fine array of appetizers -- so hard to choose -- but both Carla and I are partial to Gyoza (pot stickers). Lisa said we could have them steamed or fried, and we happily demolished a half dozen that had crisped during a stint in the skillet. Thin-skinned, not greasy, ginger flavoring the veggie filling -- perfect.
Green papaya salad -- and I mean really green -- followed. Almost transparent ribbons of the still-crunchy fruit were tossed with carrot strings, roasted peanuts, beans and an assertive dressing that didn't spare hot peppers.
For yin and yang, we shared Mee Ga Ti, a delicate vermicelli-style noodle dish flavored with pork bits and coconut milk, and Shrimp Tom Yum from the from the menu's broth collection -- a generous bowl of shrimp, tofu and cilantro swimming in a POW! liquid.
When it was clear we couldn't finish it all, Lisa divided the pasta between two containers, and also divied the soup in carry-out cups. I suggested she toss the leftover papaya salad in with the Tom Yum, and I must tell you, that was one tasty leftover for lunch the next day.
Desserts are made in-house, and Carla and I spooned into a coffee cup holding Green Tea Tiramisu. Loved the tang of the tea, but the mascarpone custard was incredibly dense. A little bit'll do ya, as the old hair creme commercials said.
Looking over the menu when we were first seated, I said, "There isn't one thing I wouldn't order."
So I guess I'll have to return to Kinsen, owned by the same folks who operate Kindee Thai near the Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis, to noodle my way through more dishes on that list.
To reach Kinsen, call 612-367-4595.