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Homestyle, cheap, and elegant are not usually qualities you'll find served simultaneously in life, unless you're at St. Paul's Tanpopo, a Japanese restaurant where you can find those very things in a single bento box. Homestyle chunks of elegant, buttery looking broiled mackerel, next to pretty little pens of pickles and salads, accompanied by bowls of rice and a clean and pure miso soup all for around eight bucks! Most meals here are along those lines: Simple as can be in the Japanese home cooking idiom, and deeply satisfying.
Though I much prefer grocery shopping to clothes shopping, when I do have to look for new jeans or a party dress, I tend to gravitate toward the clearance rack. It's inescapable: I come from a long line of thrifters, garage salers, and vintage... More »
Hell has come to connote "hot." Countless generations of pop-culture references depict eternal damnation as one endless, torturous schvitz. But if you consult Dante's Inferno, you'll find that the lowest circle of hell isn't an inferno, it's a... More »
Tanpopo Noodle Shop 308 Prince St., St. Paul 651.209.6527 www.tanpopo-noodle.com Udupi Café 4920 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights 763.574.1113 www.udupicafemn.com It was a dark and shrieking night. The air in the room was as smoky as a... More »
What comes to mind when you hear "Japanese food"? If an image of sushi pops up in your head, you're hardly alone. Minnesota has its share of sushi restaurants, but less common are places that serve home-style Japanese cooking and do it well. Thank goodness, then, that we have Tanpopo. The cozy St. Paul spot has been providing bowls of steaming noodles and trays of neatly arranged teishoku for more than 10 years. Often described as a "set-meal," teishoku consists of a main dish accompanied by... More »
Having recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, Tanpopo Noodle Shop has been a St. Paul favorite since long before local Japanese restaurants started serving poisonous puffer fish and raw-fish buffets laid out on naked women. Tanpopo's chef-owner, Koshiki Yonemura, skipped the strobe lights and sake bombs of raucous sushi bars in favor of spare, loft-like digs and home-style cuisine. That means bowls of soup arrive sans a side of techno beats, their heady broths steaming and flush with... More »
This quiet Lowertown noodle shop shows that Japanese cuisine is far more than fun-and-flashy sushi joints. Chef-owner Koshiki Yonemura cooks a home-style menu that's as simple and sweet as her dining room, a high-ceilinged loft with a beautiful, spare rusticity. Appetizers can be as basic as blanched spinach with fresh-ground sesame seeds or as exotic as agedashi tofu, where the silken cubes are deep-fried and then served in a pool of hot broth--the rising heat causes the bonito flakes... More »
Tanpopo is counterintuitive, Tanpopo is intuitive. The little Lowertown full-service restaurant is counterintuitive because many of its defining qualities, such as being light, elegant, healthy, and serene, seem completely, completely incompatible with many of its other qualities, like being cheap, easy to get into, friendly, and low-key. But that's just how it is here, where you can sit in a white cathedral of a space, gaze into the many courses of your teishoku meal and know that you're... More »
This quiet Lowertown noodle shop shows that Japanese cuisine is far more than fun-and-flashy sushi joints. Chef-owner Koshiki Yonemura cooks a home-style menu that's as simple and sweet as her dining room, a high-ceilinged loft with a beautiful, spare rusticity. Appetizers can be as basic as blanched spinach with fresh-ground sesame seeds or as exotic as agedashi tofu, where the silken cubes are deep-fried and then served in a pool of hot broth—the rising heat causes the bonito flakes to flutter like butterfly wings. It's as mesmerizing as it is delicious. Soba or udon noodle soups can be ordered in dozens of incarnations—our favorite is the one with mushroom caps, sweet omelet, and wakame seaweed floating on top. Or you can go the teishoku route—these "set meals" are the Japanese answer to the TV dinner. A portion of, say, panko-breaded pork cutlet or broiled mackarel is served on a tray with miso soup, rice, salad, and those addictive little Japanese pickles. Best of all, the entrées hover right around $10, so it's easy to keep coming again and again—which we often do, always hoping to drop in when sesame flan is being served for dessert.
Without actually jumping on a plane to go across the really big pond, this is the closest Udon -- closest to the real Tokyo or Kyoto noodle spots--you will currently get in the Twin Cities. It has everything to do with the owner/chef having a personal stake in this kind of authenticity. Really wonderful; and the California rolls are the equal of Origami. 10 on a 10 scale.
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