Mall food dates rock.

Mall food dates
Once in a while, Jake and I will go on Mall of America dates.  And when we do, we rely on our favorites.  Growing up, I have fond memories of family mall dates at the Burnsville Center where I would always order from Panda Express or one of those places that aggressively hawks bites of bourbon chicken on toothpicks.  My brother always ordered from Sbarro.  My dad who was always watching his weight, ordered a teryaki chicken and pineapple baked potato from One Potato Two, and my mom always ordered a cheesesteak from the cheesesteak place that may have been since renamed/bought.

I have a fond, mall food date-related memory of my mom during the stretch when she was nearing hospice.  One evening, she had spent time preparing some kind of casserole, when a conversation sparked her interest in Burnsville Center cheesesteaks.  My normally frugal and sensible parents abandoned the casserole already baking in the oven, and we spent a lovely evening chatting around cheesesteaks at the Burnsville Center food court.

Ruby Thai
Jake and I have eaten Asian mall food our whole lives and, to date, we both feel that Ruby Thai does it best.  Their fried chicken-bits are crispier and their spicy dishes are actually spicy.

Jake ordered the pad thai, ruby chicken, and spicy chicken.  I really liked the spicy chicken.  Not only did it cause us to break into a mild sweat, but it contained kimchi-like cabbage and sweet bits of onions.

I ordered mango chicken, black pepper chicken, and stir fried noodles.

The pepper chicken was intensely black peppery. The zucchini and bell peppers were fresh and the whole lot was covered in a light brown sauce.  The mango chicken bits remained crispy beneath the sticky mango sauce.  The mango sauce was also on the cloyingly sweet side, however, I enjoyed dipping the sticky chicken into chili sauce or Jake’s spicy chicken sauce.

Although the noodles look boring, they are actually well-seasoned and have a springy chew.  The noodles are accented by bits of vegetables such as carrot, fresh scallion bits, and tender cabbage.

The next morning, I found that nothing in my leftovers congealed.  I am going to make the bold statement that I would rather order takeout from Ruby Thai than Grand Szechuan, Crystal Garden, Leann Chin’s or Big Bowl Express compared with recent, meh-dismal experiences.

Best combination ever.
Order one of the spicy chicken entrees from Ruby Thai.

Order a freshly fried batch of cheese curds from Long John Silvers.  Jake swears these cheese curds are better than A & W’s.

Dip the greasy cheese curds in Ruby Thai’s spicy sauce.  Or any other sauce, for that matter.  If I ever win a lottery or inherit gobs of money, I am promptly purchasing a food truck and offering freshly battered cheese curds tossed in a variety of Asian sauces.  Think Panda Express orange chicken or pork bulgogi, except with curds, baby.

If you steal my idea, I will find you. . .and despite my anger, I will buy your curds.

Jen’s other favorite MOA treats

Yogen Fruz
In Chicago, I fell in love with Korean-style frozen yogurt at Berry Chill.  I loved that it was tart, melted into thin air once it hit my tongue, and was carefully topped with uniformly cut fruit.  Unlike ice cream or more ubiquitous versions of frozen yogurt, this style is much lighter and leaves no filmy residue in my mouth.

Yogen Fruz’s version is not quite as tart as Berry Chill’s, but it is still tarter than your standard, gloppy frozen yogurt and has a wonderful lightness.  For toppings, you have choices ranging from fresh fruits to mochi.  I am always amused by how carefully and deliberately toppings are scooped onto my yogurt at this style of vendor.

Mall pretzels 
My first mall food love goes back to elementary school where I always bought a buttery and salty pretzel from Pretzelmaker with a side of spicy nacho cheese at the Burnsville Mall.

At the Mall of America, I prefer Pretzel Time’s version to Auntie Anne’s.  However, I recently ate a spontaneous “pretzel dog” dipped in nacho cheese sauce from Auntie Anne’s and it was disgustingly delicious.  I was most surprised by the quality of the hot dog.

Tea Garden
Here and there, I may enjoy a blended taro-flavored beverage with lychee jellies or pearls.

Go forth and cheaply mall date.  That is all.