2529 Nicollet Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
This weekend, we celebrated the marriage of Jake’s cousin Kaelynn and her husband Tanner. Jake’s uncle manages the Embassy Suites kitchen (among others) in Bloomington, and the family put together a stunning menu for the evening. We feasted on a mountain of crab claws, halibut, rare beef, and chocolate covered strawberries.
I have never seen so many people drinking Scooby Snacks. I have never seen or heard of a Scooby Snack. I must have missed something during my undergrad years. What can I say? I was a nerd. I am hesitant to admit we were busy running around in giant bunny suits and terrorizing motorists with a mannequin head mounted on a stick completely sober. And it’s probably a good thing we couldn’t get our hands on absinthe. I did learn that my new favorite drink is a White Russian (even though I didn’t love The Big Lebowski). Are Scooby Snacks a Minnesota thing? In Iowa, everyone drank Boulevards, but I have never seen anyone drink one in the Twin Cities.
We’re also chipping away at the never ending task of preparing our condominium for listings and showings.
For my upcoming birthday, Jake decided he wanted to make our Twin Cities restaurant bucket list quest official. Friday evening, we headed towards Eat Street to dine at Pho 79. I have eaten here many times, but the last occasion was at least a year and a half ago. When I worked in downtown Minneapolis, I enjoyed eating at the lunch buffet which was surprisingly good. It took two years to finally bring Jake here to try his first bowl of pho.
To begin, we each ordered an appetizer. Jake chose fresh spring rolls, $3.29.
The spring rolls were filled with lettuce, herbs, thin slices of roasted pork, and shrimp. The dipping sauce tasted like hoisin sprinkled with crushed peanuts. I thought the spring rolls were refreshing, however I wished for more herbs and the shrimp tasted a little ripe. We enjoyed dipping the rolls in the sauce mixed with sriracha.
I ordered the fried sweet potatoes with shrimp, $3.99.
We were delivered two large tangles of fried sweet potato strand and small, peeled shrimp knit together in a batter. The crunchy sweet potato and shrimp knots were served with a sweet fish sauce dressing and a large knife. We were so famished we did not bother with the giant knife, and dove in with our bare hands.
This nests were a bit greasy even for me, so I dabbed them with a napkin with optimal results. Nevertheless, we found the fried nests addictive.
Prior to our pho, we were brought a plate generously mounded with thai basil, bean sprouts, slices of jalapenos, and lime wedges.
These garnishes were so fresh. The beansprouts were plump and crunchy and the basil looked freshly picked. Nary was there a basil leaf with a browned edge or yellowed sprout.
I ordered the pho with rare, lean beef while Jake ordered the same thing with the addition of brisket. In the past, I found the brisket to be dry. Each bowl cost under $7. We were both too unadventurous to order pho with tripe or tendon.
We would both really like to try tripe, but have not worked up the courage yet. What stands in the way between me and tripe is my aversion to poo. . . we would be open to suggestions regarding local tripe dishes for the uninitiated. I should probably add tripe to our bucket list.
If one of my dining companions tripe, I would totally try it, but this has never happened thus far. Despite my bug phobia, I did eat a giant grasshopper from a vendor located on the steps scaling a giant pyramid in Cholula, Mexico. This vendor proudly offered us a sample and it felt ungracious to act fearful. And so Jeni channeled her Andrew Zimmern and ate a bug.
Enough about that. Back to the pho. I haven’t eaten many versions of pho because I am compelled to keep returning to Pho 79. Their broth is rich and satisfying, hardly one note or tiring to the palate. The rare beef slices were beefy and tender and I was impressed with the quantity of beef. The soup also contained plenty of thin slices of crunchy white and green onion. A giant tangle of rice noodles was cooked al dente.
Jake and I customized our bowls with our own ratios of garnishes. I also added lime for brightness, sriracha for heat, and hoisin for sweetness.
I hardly made a dent in my pho and the owner expertly poured the soup from its wide bowl, guiding the liquid, with chopsticks, into a container to bring home.
Jake enjoyed his first pho experience and said it was one of the best, first food experiences he has ever had.
Congratulations Kaelynn and Tanner. Thank you to the Breen and Steinlicht Families.