2013 – Minnesota State Fair New Food Review

State Fair 2013

Let’s get right into it. The Food Bros have tried some of 2013’s new fair food items so maybe you won’t have to waste your money on nasty new fair foods and stick to your favorite classics. Don’t worry not all was bad this year, there were a couple of standouts that all must try.  We didn’t get to all the new items, some classics just have standing reservations in our stomachs, but a few of the most talked about are on this list. So we are going to break this down in 3 categories:

Damn Good: our favorites and stuff you definitely should try

Bread pudding

1. Deep Fried Bread Pudding from O’Gara’s (Corner of Dan Patch Ave and Cosgrove St.) – Hands down THE BEST NEW ITEM OF THE 2013 STATE FAIR! The sweet crunchy outside protected a soft center that was so rich and satisfying that I don’t think we spoke a word as we destroyed the entire boat full. I have been describing these as a mini donut but with a crunchy crust and creamy center. Make sure you have someone to share these with because they will take up a lot of room in the belly.

Pig Wings2

2. Porketta Pig Wings from Mancini’s Al Fresco (on Carnes Ave., near Nelson St.) – If you have ever been lucky enough to have pig wings before, then you know the potential these tasty buggers have. Mancini’s pig wings were tender and well seasoned but don’t live up to my past pig wing experiences. I prefer them cooked over a flame with some bbq sauce. Don’t worry these are not a waste of money. If you’re at the fair with pork lovers head on over and get you some.

BBQ taco

3. North Woods BBQ Taco from San Filipe Tacos (Food Building) – BBQ pulled pork topped with bourbon syrup and fresh coleslaw, served on a house-made corncake then wrapped in a flour tortilla. It was as good as it sounds. This taco was probably the sweetest and most savory taco I have ever had. It could definitely fill you up, so make sure you share it with someone.

Meh: Can’t recommend but if they sound good to you maybe try

Mini donut ice cream

1. Mini Donut Batter Crunch Ice Cream from Izzy’s Ice Cream at the Hamline Dining Hall (Dan Patch Ave near visitors plaza) – If you are looking for Mini Donut flavor you will be sorely disappointed. All agreed that the flavor of a gingerbread snickerdoodle was all we were getting. If that’s something you are into then by all means enjoy, otherwise steer clear.

Steak Sandwich

2. Signature Steak Sandwich from Mancini’s Al Fresco (on Carnes Ave., near Nelson St.) – A Choice sirloin steak served on grilled focaccia bread.  This sandwich was basic and made right. However at $9.00…it was not worth the price.

Blaaaaahhhhh!(yes those are vomiting noises): Do not waste your money or precious stomach space on these

Cocoa Bites

1. Cocoa Cheese Bites from Axel’s (Outside Food building) – Nasty! Even chocolate sauce couldn’t make these tolerable. We wasted $5.00. With four people sharing, only four pieces were eaten and I couldn’t give the rest away, so they were thrown in the trash. Do not waste your time on this gimmicky food item. You are very welcome.

Pork Belly Sliders

2. Pork Belly Sliders from O’Gara’s (Corner of Dan Patch Ave and Cosgrove St.) – Again a massive let down. The meat was thin and wasn’t crispy at all, the Big Fat Bacon is 5,000x better. This reminded me of a shitty version of the McRib. And even though we will partake in the occasional McRib(we are fat its mandatory), it’s a pretty bad sandwich itself, so to be a shitty version of something kind of shitty is saying something. Save yourself $8.00 and avoid the pork belly sliders.

3. Classic Char Grilled Garlic Toast from Mancini’s Al Fresco (on Carnes Ave., near Nelson St.) – We didn’t buy this ourselves; we harassed a friend into buying it. We made fun of this for weeks and for good reason. This toast is absolutely nothing special. I had high hopes for Mancini’s and as it stands they are maybe pushing a B- in their fair debut.

Did we miss some hidden gem?  Let us know in the comments. We will be at the fair a few (ya that’s right at least a few more, don’t be jealous) more times so we got time to try more. things.

Posted in Minnesota State Fair, St Paul | 2 Comments

2013 – Minnesota State Fair Food Preview

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Ah Ya, the Minnesota State Fair! For many it marks the end of summer, returning to school and time to harvest. For the Food Bros it means it’s time to eat as many fried foods as possible and watch the freak show that is the people who come to the fair. Not saying we don’t enjoy walking through the art building, perusing the new items for sale in the grandstand or catching one of the musical acts going on around the fair grounds. But bottom line is we are there to eat (and laugh)!

We have been talking about The Minnesota State Fair for months now and when the new food items are released every year it’s almost like Christmas for us. This year there are over 40 new State Fair foods to choose from. So what are we excited for in 2013?

1. Porketta Pig Wings from Mancini’s Al Fresco (on Carnes Ave., near Nelson St.) – pig wings are awesome on their own and we are always looking for a good steak sandwich

2. North Woods BBQ Taco from San Filipe Tacos (Food Building) – BBQ pulled pork topped with bourbon syrup and fresh coleslaw, served on a house-made corncake then wrapped in a flour tortilla. Sounds like a BBQ tamale, I’m in!

3. Cocoa Cheese Bites from Axel’s (Outside Food building) – Wisconsin cheddar cheese nuggets breaded with cocoa puffs, fried and served with a chocolate dipping sauce. Sounds strange, but then again we like it strange…real strange.

4. Pork Belly Sliders from O’Gara’s (Corner of Dan Patch Ave and Cosgrove St.) – Thick cut slices of pork belly bacon topped with red cabbage slaw and O’gara’s sauce. Do we really need to discuss why these sound great? Let’s just hope they live up to our expectations.

5. Deep Fried Bread Pudding from O’Gara’s (Corner of Dan Patch Ave and Cosgrove St.) – Bite sized cubes of deep fried bread pudding served hot and drizzled with caramel sauce. If these are done right, they could be amazing. Hopefully they have a nice crunch on the outside and are so soft and sweet on the inside. Awwww Skeet Skeet!

Food Bros State Fair Must Haves:

Turkey to Go
1. Turkey Sandwich from Turkey to Go (East side of Clough between Judson and Carnes) – so juicy and delicious, add some bbq sauce and its next level

2. Cheese Curds from Mouse Trap (Food Building) – the cheese curds all cheese curds are compared to

3. Ice Cream from Dairy Goodness Bar (Dairy Building) – fresh made soft serve that’s so smooth and creamy it will make you slap your mamma

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4. Onion rings from Danielson & Daughters (just outside the Food Building) – thin, crispy and salty awesomeness (you’re going to need a beer with these)

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5. Fish Taco from San Filipe Tacos (Food Building) – fish tacos in Minnesota? Yes please

6. Frozen Custard from Custard’s Last Stand (under the Grandstand ramp) – puts Culvers to shame but beware this custard sits heavy in the belly

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7. Carl’s Gizmo Sandwich (west side of Cooper St) – try if you want but there’s no imitating this Italian sandwich in your own kitchen

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8. Hawaiian Shaved Ice (Dan Patch Ave) – on a hot day at the fair we have been known to get three or four

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9. Fudge Puppy from Granny’s Kitchen Fudge Puppies (outside the food building) – Belgium waffle on a stick, c’mon now!

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10. Teriyaki Chicken on-a-stick from Chan’s Chicken on a Stick (South side of Judson between Nelson and Underwood) – what Asian restaurants wish their teriyaki tasted like

The Food Bros usually spend 4 or 5 days at the fair every year we have tried a lot of food there, so if you have any questions or if you know some hidden gem we are overlooking please let us know in the comments below.

Posted in Minnesota State Fair, St Paul | 6 Comments

Sammy’s Speed Dog – Shakopee, MN

Speed Dog

Brandon:

Rarely do you find a new restaurant where you immediately start thinking of when your next trip there will be or who you will take with you. That was the case for Sammy’s Speed Dog. I have noticed Speed Dog a few times and never really given it much thought until recently a co-worker went on and on about how great the chicken wings and hot dogs were. It didn’t take too much arm twisting to get us to go but we were still a bit leery for a couple of reasons. One: I have never taken food advice from this individual before. Two: Speed Dog is in the rapiest end of Shakopee. It’s really not that bad of an area but that definitely is the best adjective that I can think of when describing that end of town. Just in case I brought an air horn, pepper spray, and nunchucks to fend off wannabe attackers.

Upon walking into Speed Dog, I was particularly surprised at the amount of effort and money they have put into this old Taco Johns building. It was completely transformed into a legit race themed hotdog joint, complete with ceiling fans that look like speedometers and multiple flat screen TV’s. So much for being on the dreary end of town, this place is nice.

Coney

I went with the Speedway Coney. It was a classic Coney, made with a Vienna beef dog, topped with seasoned ground beef, raw onions, and mustard served on a toasted flat bun. The bun was utterly perfect. It held all of the ingredients nicely and was soft without being soggy. The Vienna beef had a great flavor and when combined with the ground beef and onions, made for a damn near perfect Coney. Along with the Coney, I ordered the chili cheese fries. I ate most of these fries by hand which is a bit of a bad sign. You really know cheese fries are good when you don’t even bother trying to eat any with your hands, fork only.  The chili had some kick and everything was served piping hot. All in all I was tremendously happy with my lunch.

Speed Dog - Wings

One of the main reasons to go was to try these outstanding wings I had heard so much about. And I am thrilled to say these wings didn’t let me down one bit. Speed Dog fries their wings whole, and finishes them off with a zesty, salty, yet sweet seasoning. I’m not sure what the seasoning consists of, but Brad and I immediately caught a huge whiff of cinnamon. Whatever it was sure was delicious and went well with the surprisingly sweet buffalo sauce they served on the side. Now that I think of it, the seasoning on the wings was making the buffalo sauce sweet. My mouth is watering just thinking about them now. If you are a wing lover, you have to give these a try.

Sammy’s Speed Dog has potential to be a huge success. The location isn’t the greatest and service was a bit weak. Well, a bit worse than just weak. I waited 26 minutes (confirmed on receipt) to receive my hot dog and fries. If I were on my lunch break from work I would have been super pissed about how long that took. They were understaffed and very busy so I can understand why it took so long but still 26 minutes is a long time. Overall, Speed Dog provides outstanding quality food at a very reasonable price.  If you have any doubts about how good a hot dog joint can be, I suggest you give Speed Dog a try and give them a chance to win you over too.

Brad:

Years ago when I first met my fellow Food Bro at 3am he suggested we go down to this taco place, tacos at 3am of course I was down. The place was Taco Loco and its old location is at the ass-end of downtown Shakopee, now if you have ever been down there you know there is a train yard and not much else. So here we are at 3am outside of a tiny shack eating tacos, hearing weird sounds coming from the train yard and I’m waiting for some crazed maniac to run out of the woods to skin us alive and make a flesh suit. No that didn’t happen but I was creeped out by the location, and any business that can survive down there is worth a look. So when Brandon suggested we check out Sammy’s Speed Dog (located right next to the old Taco Loco) there wasn’t much hesitation at all.

Speed Dog - Chicago

Hot dogs in Minnesota aren’t quite the religious experience as they seem to be in other areas of the country, most of my encounters have been my own backyard grill or at a baseball game not a restaurant dedicated to doing them well. Due to this I have never tried a real Chicago Dog. What makes a Chicago Dog? A traditional steamed, Vienna Beef dog topped with mustard, neon relish, diced onions, sliced tomatoes, sport peppers, a pickle spear, and celery salt served on a steamed poppy seed bun. At first glance that’s a lot of stuff on a hot dog for a guy who is used to ketchup and mustard, but I went for it and it was so goooooooood, yes so good I added o’s. All the ingredients may appear to distract from each other but they worked in harmony to make an amazing hot dog experience. If you think hot dogs can only be those thin flavorless charred things you remember from childhood, get here and try a Vienna Beef dog they will change your whole view as they did mine. The chili-cheese fries are just as good, made with bean-less meaty chili and cheese sauce. Do yourself a favor and order these as well, damn good!

Speed Dog - Wings 2

The promise of amazing wings is what brought us to Sammy’s and they did not disappoint as well. Their wings come whole (flats and drummies un-cut), deep fried and covered with an amazing seasoning that is highly addicting. They were meaty, perfectly crisp and still juicy. You don’t often see wings, especially whole wings, fried this well. I don’t know all what was in the seasoning but it’s awesome and I wish they sold bottles of it. Normally I would bash them for not coating their wings in sauce but they are that good all on their own you don’t need anything else. We did get a side of buffalo sauce alongside and dunking the wings in brought them to a whole other level. These are on par with the best wings I have ever tried and if you call yourself a wing lover you need to try these, right now!

I was surprised with how many people where at Sammy’s Speed Dog for lunch and they only had 3 people total working so our food did take a bit, but everything was hot and fresh when delivered. You have to be doing something really good to survive at their location and that’s exactly what they are doing. Thank you Sammy’s Speed Dog and we will be back.

Thanks for reading. If you agree with us, think we are idiots or have a question please leave us a comment or tweet us @mnfoodbros. We really like to hear back from you.

http://www.sammyspeeddog.com/
Sammy's Speed Dog on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, Hot Dogs, Shakopee, Wings | Leave a comment

Red Cow – Minneapolis, MN

Red Cow sign

Brad:

The Food Bros are always on the lookout for new burger joints in the area and we heard about Red Cow a while ago but put it to the back of our list. Why? Well it’s hard for me to believe a place putting figs and goat cheese on their burgers is not exactly up our alley. But if your burger is good enough we will come eventually.

Red Cow boneless

Right away I have to apologize not only to you but to my fellow Food Bro Brandon, you see another friend joined us on this visit and while he loves everything buffalo flavor he doesn’t eat wings on the bone so to accommodate him I ordered boneless wings. I know, I know its almost a crime against nature but I had a moment of weakness and I am truly sorry and it won’t happen again, I swear on tiny baby Jesus. In spite of my egregious mistake I enjoyed them. The sauce had the buffalo flavor your familiar with and a little sweetness in the back ground and the heat level was a low medium. The blue cheese dressing served alongside was good as well, not the usual thin flavorless crap you get everywhere now but thick and full of blue cheese flavor. The chicken was crispy and juicy unlike a lot of boneless wings served elsewhere. So even though our friend was informed that when he joins us on future endeavors that boneless is not an option these weren’t a total loss and if the sauce and attention to detail is any indication the wings will be good as well, we may have to go back just to try them.

Red Cow - BBQ

So while I ordered the BBQ burger I had some reservations as a recent trend for burger places is to pile on a bunch of crap to hide the poor quality or lack of cooking ability when it comes to the burger itself. Red Cow starts with an angus burger topped cheddar cheese, root beer pulled pork, onion rings and bbq sauce. I didn’t realize till our server was gone but she never asked how I wanted my burger cooked so it came out just above medium, not pink but still juicy which is a bit more than I like my burger but it was still very good. The burger is made from quality meat and has a nice sear from a flattop which adds a great tasting flavor to any burger. The root beer pulled pork and bbq sauce were excellent and there was just enough to add the flavor but not over power the burger. The bun, cheese and onion rings all were quality ingredients and added just enough flavor. All together this is a damn good burger that I will happily return for and may have trouble passing over to try other creations. Red Cow’s attention to detail doesn’t stop at their burgers; the fries both regular and sweet potato varieties were also excellent. The regular fries are fresh cut skin on and fried perfectly crispy and while I am new to sweet potato fries the combination of the sweetness and the bit of spiciness from the smoked pepper aioli served alongside was addicting.

Inside Red Cow you will find some interesting art consisting of cows staring at you during your meal and a sleek modern décor, not something we worry about but it helps it fit in the neighborhood. In the end Red Cow achieves its goal of being a quality burger establishment, one we will defiantly be returning to.

Brandon:

Let me begin with my expectations for Red Cow and how these expectations came to be. First, when looking at the Red Cow menu online, I noticed the words “fine” and “gourmet”, and even “craft”. To me, all of the words just started sounding like “pretentious”. Next, I start to notice things on the menu that I am just clueless about. I have eaten at many restaurants, gone through countless cook books, and watched an unfathomable amount of food related television, and yet I have never heard of Orange Ponzu or had Piquillo Pepper or helped myself to a heaping helping of Boschetto al Tartufo? If you know what any of those things are, then good for you, you are the greatest human to ever walk the earth. Is my sarcasm coming through in that last sentence? Last but not least Red Cow is located on 50th and France.  The area screams snootiness. So there it is. In my mind Red Cow was just another upscale, trendy, full of douchebaggery restaurant. I am pleased to say that I was totally wrong. Red Cow is far from being “just another trendy restaurant”. Red Cow has a bit of a rustic feel to the inside with giant pictures of cows hanging just about everywhere. How upscale can a place be if they have cow pictures everywhere really? Needless to say so far I was pleased.

Unfortunately we decided to order the Buffalo wings. Not “unfortunately” because they were bad, but “unfortunately” because we were having lunch with a sissy girl (not really a girl) and he decided on boneless wings. Boneless Buffalo wings at a gourmet burger joint? Boneless wings at a place with pork belly sliders on the appetizer menu? The wings (if you can even call them that) were good. But to be honest I couldn’t tell you the difference between Red Cow boneless wings or Applebees and for $10 I was a bit let down. Not Red Cow’s fault by any means.  It’s my fault for not making the record needle sliding off the record sound when my buddy asked for boneless wings.

Red Cow - Manhattan

Like stated earlier, I have watched a crazy amount of food related television, and over the years I have often come across the name Pat Lafrieda. Pat Lafrieda is a famous butcher out of New York City that is known for providing restaurants with the highest quality burgers in the country. If you are a burger lover, look him up on YouTube and see his operation for yourself. As soon as I read the name Pat Lafrieda on the Red Cow menu, my mind was made up, I was ordering the Manhattan. A burger made with 8oz of the famous Pat Lafrieda beef, and topped with cotswold cheese (yet another item I was virgin to) and bacon.  The beef on my burger was delicious. It was airy and had almost a meatball-like texture to it. When I would take a bite, a bit of meat would crumble away from the burger and fall to the plate. The Cotswold cheese had bits of chive in it and was sharp without being too strong. The bacon was well, bacon.  Overall the burger was delicious, but I have to say I learned a bit of a lesson when it comes to good burgers. You can spend $15 on the Manhattan, use fancy cheese with even fancier meat, but at the end of the day the cooking method is what makes a good burger to me. Personally, I need at least one of two things to happen to make the perfect hamburger.  The best burgers need to either touch a flame on a grill or if you must cook them on a flat top, develop the flavorful outer crust while maintaining the medium pink center.  Neither can be said about my burger at Red Cow and that’s what is keeping it from cracking a spot in my top burgers list.

Overall, Red Cow is exactly what it claims to be, a gourmet burger joint that takes pride in serving burgers of the highest quality. I will most definitely be back to try a few more of their burgers and give the root beer braised pulled pork sandwich a try.  If you are food junkie like the Food Bros, I suggest you head down to Red Cow and live it up a bit. Did I mention they have a huge selection of craft beer? Enjoy!

Thanks for reading. If you agree with us, think we are idiots or have a question please leave us a comment or tweet us @mnfoodbros. We really like to hear back from you.

http://www.redcowmn.com/
Red Cow on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, Burgers, Minneapolis | Leave a comment

Cap’s Grille – Minneapolis, MN

Cap's Grille

Brandon:

About 9 years ago I was reading an Mpls St. Paul magazine which listed the Twin Cities best BBQ joints. In it Cap’s Grille was ranked in the top 10 of the BBQ rib category. Without hesitation I began week after week going to these top 10 BBQ restaurants. I can’t remember them all off the top of my head, and I can’t exactly remember what I liked about each one. I only remember that I liked certain places and a few of the places were just “blah”. Cap’s Grille was one of the ones I remember liking. Here we are 9 years later, 9 years smarter, and about 500 bones more experienced in BBQ. This is the tale of Brandon’s return to Cap’s Grille.

Cap's Ribs

I remember 9 years ago being so curious about their “famous” pork chop but sticking with BBQ ribs because our goal was to try all of the ribs on the aforementioned top 10 list. No longer on the mission to only try BBQ ribs, the option is wide open for me to order that long coveted pork chop. What do you think I decided to order? BBQ ribs of course.  I went with a half rack of ribs which comes with two sides and toast. The ribs were St. Louis cut spare ribs that were slow smoked over apple wood and then finished on the grill. The texture of these ribs was about perfect. The way the grill firms them up to the point where you can take a bite and the entire rib doesn’t fall off the bone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…RIBS THAT FALL OF THE BONE ARE NOT AUTOMATICALLY GOOD! Cap’s is one the places that understands this and makes their ribs correctly. The sauce was light and sweet and didn’t over power the meat at all. With that being said…the last 9 years of what I’m calling “BBQ training” has taught me a few things.  The main topic I want to touch on with Cap’s is smoke flavor. The ribs had very little smoke flavor and absolutely no smoke ring.  The smoke ring is not such a big deal. Personally I think ribs can have a great smoky flavor and not have any kind of smoke ring. Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t hurt, but I just feel it’s not absolutely necessary.  The way it stands, these ribs tasted like any old oven made ribs that are finished on grill. That’s not a terrible thing, but certainly not what I was expecting out of a “slow smoked” award winning rib. The sides I chose were homemade baked beans and coleslaw. The beans were a pretty standard. They were sweet and savory, and definitely hit the spot. The coleslaw was a nice change for me. It seems every restaurant lately has been serving this dry, leafy, bitter slaw that has no place on any menu ever. Cap’s serves a classic creamy and sweet slaw that goes perfectly with BBQ.

Overall, I wouldn’t call Cap’s a true BBQ joint. They do serve some BBQ items but ultimately they hang their hat on their ability to grill your food. I will be back (hopefully not 9 years from now), but will be straying away from their BBQ offerings. As we waited for our order, many burgers, pork chops, and sandwiches made their way past our table and they all looked good enough to warrant a future trip to Cap’s Grille.

Brad:

I never heard of Cap’s Grille before, but recently I was spending a lot of time in the area and had driven by it regularly. So when I asked my fellow Food Bro if he knew anything about it he proceeded to tell me he had had it years ago and remembering liking it. Well that’s enough for me to give it a try.

Cap's- Chop & Chicken

With Brandon ordering the ribs I decided to look elsewhere and ended up trying the Chop and Chicken Combo with steak fries and beans. Why a pork chop at a barbeque place? Well it apparently has been listed as “Best Pork Chop in the Twin Cities” before and if you state that on your menu of course I am going to be intrigued. So I am expecting a perfectly cooked and well-seasoned juicy pork chop. I didn’t get that; it came sauced and didn’t seem to have much seasoning other than that, the very middle was the only part that was tender as the edges were overdone and dry. Not best pork chop in the Twin Cities quality at all. The chicken is smoked then finished on the grill with a bit of sauce. It was well cooked and had a hint of smoke flavor, so it was good but nothing special here. I liked the beans, they are like what you hope that can on the shelf at the grocery store is going to taste like but just disappoint every time but you keep buying them anyway hoping one day you will find that one magical can that actually lives up to your expectations…. or is that just me? The steak fries weren’t anything special or out of the ordinary, they served their purpose to taste Cap’s tasty sauce and thats about it.

Looking around while we waited for our food it seemed everyone else was eating large sandwiches of pulled pork or burgers. Guess I made a mistake ordering the pork chop. The pulled pork sandwiches looked so good I may go back just to try them, but I will stay away from the chop.

Thanks for reading. If you agree with us, think we are idiots or have a question please leave us a comment or tweet us @mnfoodbros. We really like to hear back from you.

http://www.capsgrille.com/
Cap's Grille on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, BBQ, Reviews | Leave a comment

Nha Sang – Burnsville, MN

Nha Sang

Brandon:

It seems to me like Asian takeout places are in just about every city surrounding the Twin Cities. Sure some are better than others but it’s pretty much a seen one seen’em all type thing. Nha Sang in Burnsville stands out with their wide variety in styles ranging from Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Tibetan influences.  The Tibetan influence was a bit confusing for me because if Ace Ventura taught me anything, it’s that they don’t kill animals in Tibet. Well, apparently that’s not true because many of their Tibetan influenced meals contained meat, which is damn fine with me. However, the Tibetan chanting music and soothing atmosphere inspired me to stand up and order my entire meal talking out of my rear end Ace Venture style…not really, but it would have been funny, if only to Bradley and myself. The new server that was being trained in might have quit on the spot had I did it.  I have a Quick side note about our server. You know those awkward moments when you and a stranger are trying to pass each other and you end up doing that little dance step thing with them and you both feel stupid for doing so. Our server was brand new, I’m talking first day new and our entire service felt like that little awkward dance step. It was more funny than anything and I’m sure she has improved greatly by the time you read this.

Oyster Wings

We started first with an order of oyster wings. I though these were great. The oyster sauce flavor was subtle but pleasant. There is a fine line between adding flavor and overpowering the chicken and the oyster wings toe that line perfectly. I will definitely order these again.

Cranberry Puffs

Next were the Cranberry Curry Puffs. These cream cheese puffs were infused with dried cranberries, curry, and scallions. I have always wondered why places don’t do more with cream cheese puffs, and after trying these I understand why. They weren’t bad by any means, but they definitely had me yearning for a plain old cream cheese puff. Maybe a cream cheese puff with bacon in it? Maybe a maple bacon cream cheese puff is in my near future perhaps? Follow us on Twitter and I’ll let you know how they turn out.

2013-06-17 11.32.03

A gentleman who I assume was a manager/owner recommended I try the Tibetan style Khatsa Beef. Khatsa beef is basically a sliced beef dish tossed with onions, green peppers, and a reasonably spicy sauce.  This dish was truly nothing groundbreaking and was very similar to something you probably could find in just about any Chinese buffet (a very good buffet it would be if it were this high quality). My meal was very fresh and served piping hot. The quality of the food at Nha Sang is top notch, you can tell they take pride in their food and it shows in the preparation.

Overall, Nha Sang is an excellent option when you’re in the mood Asian cuisine. They have a lunch buffet with a wide variety of their menu items. Give them all a taste to see which style cuisine you’re into. I highly recommend you give Nha Sang a try…Allllllllrighty then!

Brad:

Why did it almost take a year for the Food Bros to do an Asian restaurant? Ummm…. I don’t know. We both eat take-out from places rather regularly. So I guess that’s it, we both seem to think of Asian food more for take-out rather than a sit down restaurant experience. So a friend whose opinion on the matter of food I actually really trust has been telling me for a while that Nha Sang is their favorite take-out joint around. High praise to live up to with a lot of really good places around Burnsville/Savage/Shakopee area and a place that has Tibetan food is unheard of here. Upon sitting down we were told it was our servers very first day so some bumps to be expected and I was going to go into a long rant about the service we received from her; like I was going to say I wasn’t sure she had ever been to a restaurant before since she seemed completely lost. But I am not putting it on her and I expect she is now a rock star at her job. Moving on.

We ordered a couple appetizers: first up the Oyster wings. Now I am not even sure what oyster sauce is actually made of and part of me doesn’t want to even look it up for fear it may be a very literal term. But somebody recommended them so they were ordered. And they were pretty good, no overwhelming flavor just really well cooked crunchy wings with a bit of spice. Next up the Cranberry Curry Puffs: wontons with cream cheese, cranberries, curry, scallions with sweet & sour dipping sauce. I really wasn’t sure how these were going to go over but I really like them. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors while nothing over powered any other aspect. Highly recommended.

Cranberry Curry

My order came down to a choice between General Tso’s(one of my favorites) and the Cranberry Curry, this was actually really close as I haven’t had the best experiences with curry dishes in the past and didn’t want this day to end with me not being able to leave my bathroom like I had just had a drunken White Castle and Taco Bell back to back double shot. But I went for the Chicken Cranberry Curry (mushrooms, onion, green scallions, Thai Red Curry, coconut milk and cranberries) and was very glad I did. I even thought the dish looked beautiful and looked like they take pride in their food. As they should as all the ingredients worked well and didn’t over power each other again just like the curry puffs to make a great dish with just a nice amount of heat. I really liked the actual whole cranberries in the dish as they added a little pop of sweetness to each bite. Good stuff.

Sesame Chicken Hot & Spicy chicken

So as I mentioned earlier we usually think of Asian food as take-out I went back to Nha Sang a few days later and did just that for lunch. I got a couple lunch specials(strangely absent from their online menu but they do have them) with some egg rolls and fried rice. The first one was Tibetan Hot & Spicy Chicken(above right), I love hot & spicy chicken and while the dish was spicy the flavor just wasn’t quite there, so I will call this ok. Next was Sesame Chicken(above left), this was your standard you will find at most places around here, so if you like them you will like Nha Sang’s as well, nothing special though, same with the fried rice. The egg rolls appear to be handmade and are very crunchy while the filling is standard for most Asian places, again ok, nothing mind blowing here but good quality.

Egg Roll

The owner/manager is incredibly gracious and the lunch buffet while small looked very fresh and seems to draw a good crowd of people on their lunch breaks. All in all I really enjoyed Nha Sang and it will be added to my regular rotation of Asian take-out joints and you should check it out as well and don’t be afraid of something a bit different.

www.nhasangrestaurant.com
Nha Sang Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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Posted in Asian, Burnsville, Reviews, Wings | 4 Comments

Smack Shack – Minneapolis, MN

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Brad:

Smack Shack is a food truck I have been salivating to try for quite some time now but living and working in the burbs doesn’t really give you a chance to try all the food trucks that reside in Minneapolis or St Paul. Sure the occasional one ventures as far south as Bloomington but that’s rare and they are usually gone by the time I have found out. So when Smack Shack moved into 1029 Bar the plan was originally to go there, that never happened and then they opened their own restaurant in the North Loop area and the buzz was too much to resist anymore. Since fellow Food Bro Brandon has an allergy to some seafood and an aversion to the rest I recruited another friend of ours to go, he loves seafood and will try things I wouldn’t dare to try so he is good to bring along to new places and after telling Brandon where we were thinking of going he was still down to go try some non-seafood things and watch us devour some “gross bugs” as he puts it.

Crab Cakes

We started with the crab cakes, yep that’s right even Brandon agreed to try some even though I tried to order the “smack wings” instead. Our waitress did tell us that it was a small appetizer for 3 people but since Brandon was only going to try a little we went ahead with it. When they arrived at the table I could see why she was concerned, the portion is small even for 2 people, I get that crab is expensive but for $16 I expected a bit bigger. Now the taste was great; the crab cake itself was fresh tasting and basic, which in my opinion is a good thing, too many places throw a bunch of un-needed crap in to cover up the lack of actual crab which there was a good amount of here. It came with a corn relish, sauce or whatever, I’m not sure but it tasted great as well and added a bit more flavor to the crab cake itself.

Lobster Roll

I ordered the original Lobster Roll; chilled lobster salad, cucumber & tarragon on griddled milk bread. I see why the food truck is so successful as this is a great sandwich. The lobster is cooked perfectly and they don’t use a lot of filler to make it seem bigger. The bread had a nice crust while maintaining a soft buttery-ness. I got their smack-fries and a piece of corn bread also. The fries were well seasoned but other than that they are a pass. The corn bread however was great; there are little pieces of chilies in it so when you put the honey butter on it has a great little sweet and spicy combo going on.

Corn Bread

When Brandon could not stand to finish his Leg of Lamb sandwich I gave it a try. The lamb itself and the roll it was on were great but the amount of harissa on the bottom just over powered everything and made it inedible. Our other friend got the Connecticut-Style lobster roll; warm lobster with butter, lemon and chives. Normally this comes on a split roll but he wanted to try the milk bread the other on comes on and our waitress was very accommodating telling him it would not be a problem at all. I stole a piece of warm lobster from his sandwich and it was great as well, I would actually order this again over the cold roll I ordered. Something about warm lobster with lemon and butter….. Just sayin…

Connecticut-Style

Now if you want the whole lobster boil experience or a hip place for a date night I would highly recommend going to the Smack Shack but while my food was very good and our server was very knowledgeable and helpful, the next time I feel a need for a lobster roll I will find the food truck or hit up The 1029 Bar and pay a little less for the same food.

Brandon:

Have you ever watched Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom? Remember the scene where they are walking through the secret passageway and they hear crunching under their feet and when they put a torch to the ground they realize they are walking on giant insects? I was maybe 4 of 5 when I watched that movie…smash cut to me sitting at the table of my Grandma’s house a year or two later for a “special” dinner and she decides to slide a plate full of the Temple of Doom insects in front of me. I remember thinking this is a joke. No one expects me to eat these giant bugs with white and opaque meat spilling out everywhere. I still cringe when I think about it too long. Come to realize, she was serving lobster, crab, and shrimp. Never have I truly given it a chance and I probably never will.  With that being said…let’s review Smack Shack.

First we decided to try the crab cakes. This was my first crab cake experience, and I was only brave enough to muster a bite or two. Again…not my thing, so go ahead and skip to next paragraph if you don’t want to read about me being a little girl. I do eat fish, so without any shell of any kind I could lie to myself and pretend I was eating fish so I could eat it. The cake itself was flaky and full of flavor, exactly how I imagined one would taste. With nothing to compare it to I will leave it to Brad to school you on how they rank.

Lamb Sandwich

With only a couple of non-seafood menu items, my choices were a bit limited. It was either pork tacos, which our server said were very small and warned me to not be disappointed if they weren’t enough food for my large appetite, or a leg of lamb sandwich.  Without hesitation I chose the leg of lamb sandwich.  Maybe I was a bit surly about eating at a restaurant where I felt out of place. I was alone in this place of horror. Everyone was gleefully devouring claws, thorax’s, abdomens, antennas, (ok maybe not antennas) but still sucking out juices and licking weird lobster underbellies. How do you know you’re not eating lobster wiener? I think they all do it and don’t even know it…yup that’s it…lobster eaters love lobster wiener…I’m pretty sure about this so don’t question it. Back to my point, maybe I was a bit ornery but to me this sandwich was just not very good. If they would have kept it simple the sandwich could have been great. Instead they top it with Harrisa (red pepper paste, with other seasonings), and Saffron Aioli (garlic lemon mayonnaise). Both sauces completely overpowered the tender well cooked leg of lamb so much so that I didn’t even bother to finish my food. Did you read that? I didn’t finish my food! There were a couple of food trucks right outside and I thought why waste my appetite on this subpar sandwich when I can roll the dice again on a food truck. The coleslaw was a joke. It was dry with a very strong herb in it, either parsley or cilantro. Either way two bites was all I could muster.

Why are you still reading this obvious seafood hater’s review of a seafood restaurant? Scroll away immediately and give Brad’s review a read. His opinions are much more valuable than mine on this topic. Until next time…Keep it classy Twin Cities!

http://www.smack-shack.com/
Smack Shack on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, Fish/Seafood, Minneapolis, Reviews, Sandwiches | 1 Comment