Exploring Asian Delis in East St. Paul

The East St. Paul  (ESP) scene is underrated. I don’t hear as much buzz as I would expect.

We live close to East St. Paul and drive back and forth nearly daily to our family who cares for our kids during the week.

Restaurants and markets line Payne and Arcade Avenues.

I’m always on the hunt for convenient places to buy fresh fruit and veggies for my toddler, plus takeout. If they serve eggrolls, all the better.

Here are a couple delis and boba tea shop that I like to visit at the intersection of Arcade and Maryland. Plus, another nearby market that serves the most delicious noodle salad. There is still lots to try from just these few places, but here’s what I’ve tasted so far:

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I’m So Sorry Benihana: Frozen Entree Review

I wanted to love these. I really did.

I love Benihana without a shred of irony or sarcasm. I love Benihana with the enthusiasm of a Disney adult.

From the progressive ritual of the salty, onion broth soup with the thinnest slivers of mushrooms imaginable to the crisp iceberg lettuce salad with carrot-ginger dressing to the sautéed zucchini planks, flaming onion volcano, and great pouring of the dipping sauces.

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Winter 2022 Costco Frozen Food Reviews

With an infant and toddler, leaving the house isn’t . . .fun.  The hardest part is just leaving the house.

We did manage to make a quick trip to Costco with the kids in tow. The baby slept the entire time and we entertained the toddler with samples.

This time we felt weak and bought the frozen doodads that tempted us before. Here are our thoughts:

Chicken Ramen Bowls
Around $16 for six

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One Last Meal Before The Birth Where Nothing Went As Planned

The nicest thing you can do for yourself is eat a bowl of pho by yourself, very slowly.

My due date had come and gone. This was my last opportunity to enjoy a meal out, while I had one child.

They scheduled the induction that morning. Baby was over a week past his due date and seemed in no hurry to leave – peacefully floating in a sea of hazy amniotic fluid, snuggling his umbilical cord and snoozing away.

I ate lunch nearby at Pho Mai in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota. 

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Asian Pastries and Bubble Tea At Sweet Percent Bakery – Brooklyn Park, MN

I’m still blogging about food like a dinosaur.

The kids are on Youtube and Tik Tok. It’s ok.

Here I am, sitting  down at my laptop like Carrie Bradshaw, writing old-school about food with photos I took with my phone.

I’ve accepted writing is my preferred medium.

I love watching Youtube videos about food, fashion and make-up. I stopped making videos and haven’t downloaded or created a Tik Tok account yet and may never will.

Social media platforms are like my kitchen gadgets. There’s only so much cupboard space in my kitchen and my brain.

Both capacities froze in time during the year the Instant Pot became the “it” tool.

My cupboards overfloweth and so I locked them down. I still find myself gravitating towards the little crock pot my mom gave me when I moved into my first apartment, anyway.

The last social media platform I joined was Peach and we all know where that went (makes a fart noise with my hand).

I find myself wanting an air fryer and sometimes I want to join Tik Tok, but for now I’m content.

One Youtube channel I’ve been watching is MN PhatFoodies. They publish concise reviews of their dining experiences and visits to Asian grocery stores. Many of the restaurants they visit are in the North West metro area like Brooklyn Park and Plymouth.

They published a video about visiting Sweet Percent bakery and bubble tea shop and trying a salted egg yolk-taro bun. I’d never seen this type of bun before. I kept thinking of them breaking open that big, fluffy bun.

There aren’t many Asian bakeries in the Twin Cities. I love the savory buns from Keefer Court. I used to go on weekends, early in the morning when the selection is the best. My favorites are the beef curry puffs and ham + egg buns. I don’t see these in the Twin Cities often – when I visit Asian grocery stores, they typically have pre-packaged sweet buns.

Sweet Percent is located in Brooklyn Park. Ever since I learned about this bakery, I’ve been curious what savory buns they make. Plus, I’ve been on a bubble tea kick and they serve that too.

During my last days of pregnancy, I wandered through Dragon Star nearby and visited Sweet Percent. This Dragon Star has an expansive deli and banh mi station. While I ordered my favorite bubble tea, jasmine green tea with boba (50% sweet), I met a family also waiting for their teas.

The dad held a container of what looked like roasted pork. I asked him where he got it and he chuckled to himself replying “Well, it’s not something you can really buy around here.”

I was very puzzled.

He explained that it’s actually vegan roasted pork that his family member who owns a business in the strip mall special-orders from California. He offered me some.

The texture was crispy and chewy and the flavor was meaty and delicious. They kept generously offering me more.

Strangers with vegan roast pork.

The bubble tea here is really good. The boba had the best flavor and texture I can reminder finding -perfectly bouncy, not too soft or too chewy, and slightly sweet.

The bubble tea menu is quite large and includes besides milk teas, also lists the categories, “raw tea with fresh milk,” “lemon drink,” “four seasons fresh fruit tea,” “yogurt drinks,” “coconut family” drinks, “daily fresh milks” (like taro and strawberry), and “cheese fresh fruit smoothies.”

Some of the savory pastries I saw were hot dog, sausage cheese, pork floss, and scallion. Sweet ones include pineapple, taro, and red bean.

I bought the salted egg yolk and taro pastry.

The soft, sweet, fluffy bun was filled with a generous amount of sweet taro paste, salted egg yolk, and coconut.

I thought the salted egg yolk would taste salty but it actually tasted sweet. The yolk added a custardy richness.

Sweet Percent isn’t located near our home, but I’m glad I got to visit and try a bun before baby came.

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