Beef Momos at Amazing Momo
Every culture has its dumpling. In Tibetan cuisine it's the momo, filled with love and homey flavors, secured inside a tender dough and wrapped with care. Sonam Chodon founded Amazing Momo about five years ago as a farmers markets stand, along with her husband and brother-in-law. All three have full-time jobs, but as the seasons allow, Amazing Momo sells its bites at the Bloomington, St. Paul and Linden Hills farmers markets.
"Momo is a much-favored meal for Tibetans, and families usually eat it during special occasions since it is a lot more work and takes longer to prepare than other meals," said Chodon. "Our momo has a unique taste mixed with our ancestors' recipes and some newer spices."
The momos, the Tibetan word for dumpling, are available with different fillings, including vegetarian options. But I can't quit the beef ($12), a gently seasoned ground mixture inside a tender, just-chewy-enough dough. They can be ordered steamed, with that plush texture, but I prefer to spend a few extra minutes at the stand while they get a crispy pan fry. Each bite is crispy, unctuous, chewy and so savory. The zippy red sauce, either spicy or mild, kicks up the flavor experience.
In response to the positive feedback, Chodon is now pursuing an MBA with the hopes of expanding Amazing Momo's reach. But for now, as the temps dip into sweater weather, it's time to savor these sumptuous little bites while we can. (Joy Summers)
Follow Amazing Momo on Facebook to find out where they'll be next. facebook.com/servingamazingmomo
Breakfast burrito from Quince Mpls Mkt
An hourlong wait to get a burrito from a grill set up in a north Minneapolis parking lot should have had me grumbling. But how could it? The weather was good, the company was delightful, the neighborhood was lively (with a grocery store, library and cafe to kill time in). And the burrito? Totally worth it.
Lines like this are nothing new for Quince Mpls Mkt, a former vendor at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. The family-run stand always drew crowds for their cooked-to-order burritos ($13), large enough to feed a couple of people and stuffed to the brim with eggs, hash browns, cheese and sausage and — the ultimate add-on — sweet-salty bacon jam (an extra $2).
"People would come put their order in and go shop and come back, or they would just wait the whole time and just talk and watch Bill grill and hang out. I've never seen more patient people," said Tamara Busch, whose mother, Frida Busch, and stepfather, Bill Jones, are behind those mega burritos.
"People are so nice and they wait, and we go as fast as we can, and for the most part, that's their Saturday thing," Busch said. "It's amazing."
This burrito was first whipped up years earlier at the Golden Quince, Frida Busch's Arden Hills bakery. Busch was hired to feed a team of athletes from the U of M with easy, handheld sustenance before games. Hence the heft.
The Golden Quince has since closed, and so has the Quince Mpls Mkt farmers market stand; COVID took care of that. But it re-emerged last fall outside Get Down Coffee Co., Houston White's energetic cafe in the Camden neighborhood. Quince provides all the pastries sold inside and, every other Saturday, can be found in the North Market lot making burritos for people who are more than happy to wait.
They'll be there again Oct. 8, and maybe again two weeks after that, as long as there's no snow. Look for them this winter doing pre-order burrito sales inside the cafe. And who knows? By next spring, with a few equipment upgrades, the wait might get a little bit shorter.
"I think the line will always be there, because we're making them by hand," Tamara Busch said. "But maybe we can get it to be a little less, now that we know everyone's still coming for us." (Sharyn Jackson)
The next burrito pop-up is 9 a.m.-noon Oct. 8. at Get Down Coffee Co., 1500 44th Av. N., Mpls., instagram.com/quincemplsmkt
Pastries from Sweet Jules Gifts and the Grocer's Table
Sometimes life isn't fair. Heading into Sweet Jules Gifts in Minnetonka for some caramels, I was greeted by a counter full of stunning pastries. Turns out I lucked into one of the shop's occasional pop-ups, and the star of the show was an almond cream tart with peaches and elderberry preserves that was almost too pretty to eat ($8). Almost. The crisp crust was rich with almond flavor, and the sweet peach and elderberry flavors were the perfect complement. Here's where life isn't fair: Sweet Jules, run by sisters Jule Vranian and Hope Klocker, will be pulling back on pastry pop-ups as they turn their attention to their award-winning caramels for the holiday season. It is worth your while to sign up for the Sweet Jules newsletter, which will alert you to future pop-ups. Pastries like this are too good to miss.
But we would never leave you pastryless: enter the blueberry-huckleberry muffin at the Grocer's Table ($3.75). Those who like more muffin than fruit might want to choose another flavor, because this muffin is all about the fruit. Juicy blueberries and huckleberries were bursting with flavor and studded throughout the buttermilk muffin that was the perfect texture and the right amount of sweet. The streusel topping added a little crunch and a lot of flavor. What started as a quick trip for a few provisions ended with a cup of chai and savoring one of the best muffins I've had in a very long time. It was so good I only had a few bites before tucking it away to make it last longer. What a sweet way to start the day. (Nicole Hvidsten)
French Dip at Manny's Steakhouse
When we were feeling flush for lunch back at my first job, working alongside my mom in our small business, we'd walk to a nearby supper club to pick up French dips. The sandwiches made use of the restaurant's roasted prime rib specials, shaving the leftovers into thin layers and tucking the meat into toasty bread with a cup of roasting juices on the side. I'd alternate dipping the sandwich and my fries into that salty, rich jus. The sandwiches were almost a bigger treat than eating Round One of the beefy goods on a Saturday night.
Those memories came rushing back as I slid into one of the familiar red seats at Manny's Steakhouse, the downtown power lunch spot that just reopened for lunch. Although the circumstances and jobs couldn't be more different, it was still a delight to hoist that beefy sandwich ($23.95) and plunge it into a warm cup of jus, letting the crusty bread soak in the luscious flavor.
After meeting at the office for months with limited lunch options, it was reassuring and wonderful to have that midday treat (because these aren't country-kid prices) back in business with lunch served seven days a week. (J.S.)
825 Marquette Av. S., Mpls., 612-339-9900, mannyssteakhouse.com
Bánh Xèo from Cam Rahn Bay
It's tempting to stick with what you know, from a favorite brand of jeans or coffee to a dish at your favorite restaurant. But straying from the usual path can pay off, as it did when I said no to pho and yes to Bánh Xèo.
The enormous, crispy, turmeric-laced rice pancake — it didn't even fit on a platter — was stuffed with stir-fried shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and onion, and is made to be wrapped in lettuce and garnished with mint and cilantro ($18.95). The combination checked all the texture boxes, and the turmeric gave it a slightly earthy yet sweet taste. The herbs add another layer of flavor and complexity, so don't skip them, and drizzling it with a little chile oil and hoisin sauce completes it. Thanks to the sheer size of the crêpe, and a spring roll beforehand, there was plenty left for lunch the next day, too.
This spacious Vietnamese restaurant has been on a busy Burnsville corner for more than 20 years, and is a local favorite. It serves popular Chinese dishes as well as traditional Vietnamese cuisine, so you can order sweet and sour chicken again, but where's the adventure in that? (N.H.)
1006 County Road 42, Burnsville, 952-898-5366, camranhbaycuisine.com