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The former home of the Times Bar & Cafe on East Hennepin was reborn as Ginger Hop, an "East-meets-Northeast" concept of Asian and American fare. The owners are the crew behind the original Thailand-in-Uptown concept Chiang Mai Thai, and they wisely capitalized on the neighborhood's notable lack of Asian restaurants. The space looks as pretty as ever--the vintage bar is the same and the dining room now looks as if it were lifted from French Colonial Indochina. The menu skips, or hops, as it were, around Thailand, Vietnam, and China, and includes a few fusion items such as the Kimchi Kulakofsky, a Reuben sandwich stuffed with Korean-style pickled cabbage. Several menu items feature ginger-the Ginger-or-Mary Ann cocktail and the house-made ginger snaps with candied ginger ice cream-and a few others incorporate beer (hops, get it?), such as the chicken wings with Summit EPA hot sauce. Prices are higher than at local mom-and-pop Asian eateries-the banh mi will run you $8.75, which is about double what you'd pay on Nicollet or University Avenue-though Ginger Hop offers a classier ambiance than most spots with $10-and-under entrees. Some of the standard Asian favorites lack their characteristic flavor complexity, so stick with the walleye satay, the sweet potato fries, General Tsing's Chicken or the Hop Laab. Honey's, downstairs, is a mixed-use venue combining drinks and snacks with entertainment.
Whenever I try an Asian-fusion restaurant for the first time, I always go for the Pad Thai. It might be lame gauge, but it's worked well for me so far - if the Pad Thai at a place is good, it's almost always worth coming back and trying something else. If it's just meh, then I leave it at that. Ginger Hop has GREAT Pad Thai. Unfortunately, I moved to Phoenix before I got a chance to try anything else - next time I'm in the cities, I'm heading back.
The atmosphere in this place is cool too. The brick outside looks like any other Nordeast bar, but the inside has giant paddle fans on the ceiling and beaded curtains.
Eye Candy$8.50 ( $5 at happy hour)Ginger Hop 201 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis612.746.0304As we start craving drinks that warm the toes and are best served in front of a fire, let's have one last toas... More »
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