There’s nothing like a long weekend where you feel productive and truly relax.
For an introvert, this is a delicate balance that’s rarely accomplished. We like to be alone. Sometimes we prefer it. But too much time alone also makes for an unhappy introvert.
The past two weeks were sprinkled with social gatherings and work actually hasn’t felt too hectic. This all led to a pretty good weekend.
My weekend goals were simple: Go out to eat a few times, clean up the yard, cook something, see John Wick 3. Last but not least, to finish Dead To Me, a newer Netflix series starring Christina Applegate, Linda Cardellini and James Marsden.
This show had me hooked all week, from episode one. Cliffhangers leave you screaming at the end of each episode.
Applegate and Cardellini’s performances are brilliant and moving. Their portrayals of loss, grief, rage woven with humor feels raw, authentic and relatable. Yes, you can joke about death and loss. Cardellini’s experiences enduring infertility and miscarriage made me feel seen. I’m searching for something to fill my Dead To Me void, now.
Below are some thoughts on two restaurants we tried this weekend. They aren’t new – both opened around 2016. Just, new to us.
Tori is located near Grand Ave and Victoria in St. Paul. The menu is concise, offering seven types of ramen and drinks (both alcoholic and not) and maybe one side that’s kimchi. Tori 44 is located in North Minneapolis and offers a slightly different menu with more appetizers.
Two things that make Tori unique is that the company makes their own noodles and does not cook with pork.
I tried to call ahead for pick-up and accidentally got hung-up on, so I drove over. The employees were friendly as they tried to accommodate a steady stream of dine-in customers and take-out orders. I waited for around fifteen minutes for my order. The only thing about doing this is that there’s limited space to wait inside for a take-out order. On a nice day I suppose you could just go outside.
We savored our soups. Jake described his Korean ramen as his favorite so far (chicken, kimchi, yo choy, a smear of gochujang, bean sprouts, a slow cooked egg, black garlic oil, sesame, and scallion). I liked the broth’s savory, slightly smokey flavor a lot. We would have enjoyed more heat.
Ask for some chili sauce. Upon request, I received a little dollop in a container. It didn’t look like much, but packed a lot of heat that lit up my bowl. It’s not the typical chili sauce you often receive; I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s homemade.
I ordered the The Best Seller + an egg. This vegetarian ramen’s base is vegetarian shoyu with seasonal veggies, beansprouts, burdock slices, sea weeds, fermented mushrooms, scallion oil, sesame and green onion. The broth is so savory and flavorful, I was in awe and completely satisfied. The addition of the hot chili sauce made for a meal I would return for with regularity.
KBOP offers a more casual style of counter service. When we noticed it on DoorDash, we placed an order.
It looks like if you dine-in, they give you a banchan spread. For take-out, we received a little side of kimchi with each entree.
Entrees range from $9-$13. Most hover around $10.
We ordered Jake’s favorite dishes, chap chae (sweet potato noodle stir fry) and pork bulgogi + veggie mandu, Bi Bim Naeng Myeon (spicy cold buckwheat noodles), and Sundubu Chigae, a seafood tofu stew.
The japjae and pork bulgogi are some of the best versions we’ve tried. We ordered everything extra spicy resulting in a pleasing heat. Both of these dishes were stir-fried with skill that resulted in flavorful char and vegetables with tender-crisp textures.
I’d never tried a cold Korean noodle dish before – the menu describes the buckwheat noodle dish as including hard-boiled egg and vegetables. While I liked the flavors, it only includes half an egg and slices of beef. Mine looked like some sort of headcheese – in other photos online the meat looked like sliced brisket.
I’m guessing you could ask the restaurant to exclude this.
Finally, the fried vegetable mandu dumplings were excellent. Mirror of Korea serves my other favorite mandu.
The dish I didn’t like was the seafood tofu stew. Jake didn’t find it as unappealing as I did. The broth had a pleasant heat but struck me as slightly bland and fishy. The generous portion size included a lot of soft tofu with bits of calamari, shrimp and fake crab.
We would definitely return to KBOP.