Stepping across the threshold of Qoraxlow (it means "handsome" or "beautiful") is more like traveling to another country than strolling into a Minneapolis eatery. Large illustrations of the Koran decorate the wall. One of the three main rooms is dominated by a maroon-and-gold brocade couch, and the place hums with conversation in a language unintelligible to white, American ears. The menu is incomprehensible in the best sense of the word-you understand the general drift of the protein involved, but with no descriptions of the dishes' seasonings or sauces you have no reliable rationale for predicting what will arrive at the table. For that reason, the simplest way to enjoy Qoraxlow is to order the "sports" platter, a full-court, two-person meat extravaganza featuring beef, fish, chicken, gyro slices, something that was probably goat, an enormous platter of spiced and fruited rice, a salad, a tenaciously spicy green condiment of unknown derivation, and a couple of bananas. The food, as it turns out, is almost Persian in style. Raisins in the rice; tender, deeply spiced, stewed meat; flavors of cardamom, orange peels, onions, and lime. It's an experience as lovely as promised.
Enter the word "Qoraxlow" into Google and all you get are a bunch of barebones listings, all referring to the enigmatic, windowless East African restaurant located at Lake Street and Cedar Avenue. It's right there on Lake, and yet—linguistically... More »