Aug 042012

Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi, Teppanyaki
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Roseville, MN
Address: 1675 County Road C West Roseville, MN 55113  651-633-3188


  • Mon-Thurs  11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-10pm
  • Friday 11am-2:30pm, 4:30pm-11pm
  • Saturday 12pm-11pm
  • Sunday 12pm-10pm

Links: Osaka Steakhouse Website * Osaka on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: The Roseville location of Osaka Sushi & Hibachi is located at the far end of the strip mall on the northwest corner of Snelling and County Rd C. (same strip mall as Byerly’s and ZPizza).  The restaurant is divided into three areas: the dining room, the bar area and the hibachi room.  The dining room is to the left when you first walk in, a contemporary space with tables and booths to seat about forty people or so, and a sushi bar at the back to accommodate another dozen.  The wall to the left side of the restaurant is interesting to look at, with floor-to-ceiling textured back-lit glass panels in a variety of patterns, nestled between columns of stone bricks.

The sushi bar is a good place to sit if you like to interact with the sushi chefs, or if you want a closer look at the TVs hanging on the wall behind.

The Bar area is the first thing you see when you enter Osaka, centered between the dining and hibachi rooms.  It has a contemporary feel to it with the under-bar lighting and hanging pendants above.

To the right of the main entrance is the hibachi room.  There are a handful of  hibachi tables, each of which seats about 10-12 people.  The hibachi chef stands in the center of the table and cooks at the grill built into either side of the table.

Menu: Osaka receives their seafood fresh on Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays.

Appetizers include Edamame, Squid Ginger Yaki, Yakitori, Steamed Shrimp Shumai, Calamari, Gyoza, Age Tofu, Vegetable Gyoza, Beef Negimaki, Haru Maki, Soft Shell Crab and Tempura.

Salads at Osaka include Garden Salad, Tataki Salad, Avocado Salad, Seaweed Salad, Kani Salad, Seafood Salad Squid Salad, and House Salad.  Soups include Miso, Spicy Miso Vegetable, Onion Soup and Dobin Soup.

Japanese Entrees include Teriyaki (chicken, beef, shrimp, salmon, seafood), Tempura (vegetable, chicken, seafood), Yaki Udon Noodles, Yaki Soba, Nabe Yaki Udon, Seafood Noodle Soup, Una Don, Chicken Katsu, Pork Katsu, and Beef Negimaki.

Sushi and Sashimi selections come with two pieces in an order: Maguro (tuna), Toro (fatty tuna), Spicy Tuna, Hamachi (yellowtail), Ebi (shrimp), Sake (salmon), Smoked Salmon, Ikura (salmon roe), Hirame (fluke), Tobiko (flying fish egg), Unagi (eel), Hotategai (scallop), Amaebi (sweet shrimp), Tamago (egg custard), Kani (crab stick), Saba (mackerel), Hokkigai (surf clam), Uni (sea urchin), Ika (squid), King Crab, Live Giant Clam, Tako (Octopus) and White Tuna.

Osaka Sushi dinners are served with miso soup and salad.  Options include Sushi Entree, Sashimi Entree, Chirasi Sushi, Tri Color Sushi, Sushi & Sashimi Combo, Roll Combo, Vegetable Roll Combo, Tekka Don, and Tuna or Salmon Love.  You can also order Sishi for 2, Sushi and Sashimi for 2, Love Boat or Chef’s Special.

Rolls and Hand Rolls at Osaka include Avocado, Kappa Maki, Oshinko Maki, Asparagus Maki, Mushroom & Avocado, A.A.C. Maki, Califormia Roll, Boston, Crispy Shrimp tempura Roll, Philadelphia Roll, Eel Cucumber, Salmon Skin Roll, Spicy Snow Crab Roll, Lobster & Avocado, King Crab & Avocado, Dragon Roll, and Spider Roll.  Fresh fish rolls include Tuna, Salmon, Yellowtail, Toro, Alaskan, Spicy Tuna, Spicy Salmon, Spicy Yellowtail, and Rainbow Roll.

Osaka’s specialty rolls include Angel, Crazy, Black Dragon, Osaka, Spicy Girl, Crazy Tuna, Sweet Heart, Naked Girl, Salmon Family Roll, Alligator, No. 9, M.J Roll, Roseville Roll, Pink Lady, Yum Yum, B.M.W., Crunch Roll, New York, Dancing, and Sex on the Beach.

Hibachi dinners are served with onion soup, house salad, hibachi noodles, hibachi vegetable with choice of meats including Vegetable, Chicken, Salmon, Scallops, Shrimp, Tuna, Sword Fish, Steak, Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail.
Price guide: Appetizers $5-9  Entrees $11-24 Sushi/Sashimi $4-9 Specialty Rolls $13-17  Hibachi $15-31
What we ordered: My companion and I ordered a variety of rolls and sashimi, including surf clam, uni with quail egg, spicy tuna roll, spicy girl roll, and dancing roll.

The Spicy Girl roll had spicy tuna and spicy yellowtail with cucumber on the inside and then wrapped with rice and topped with spicy salmon and panko.  This roll had a fair amount of kick to it, as one would hope with a name like Spicy Girl.  I thought it was good but it didn’t blow me away.

We also tried the Dancing Roll, which turned out to be one of the favorites of both of us.  This roll had tuna, salmon and yellowtail on the inside then was wrapped with rice, escolar, a very thin slice of avocado and then topped with tobiko.  I loved the flavors of the different fish all rolled together, while the tobiko gave it a nice contrast in texture.

My companion was thrilled to see Uni on the menu and even happier when told it was delivered fresh that same day.  We initially ordered two orders with quail egg and later ordered an additional two orders.  I have not been a fan of uni when I have had it in the past, however this uni at Osaka looked very fresh so I wanted to give it another try.  While I can’t say I’ve grown to love uni, this was the best uni I’ve had to date.  The freshness gave it a more mild and less mineral-like taste than other uni I’ve eaten.  The creaminess of the egg and the uni was well complimented by the rice.

The Surf Clam was also fresh; pretty good if you like surf clam.
(I personally can take it or leave it.)

We went back to Osaka less than two weeks later and once again ordered the Dancing Roll and the Uni with Quail Egg, as well as the B.M.W. Roll .  The BMW Roll was really good; it had spicy tuna and avocado wrapped with rice and then deep fried.  It was topped with unagi sauce, spicy mayo and tobiko.  Very good!

Service: Our first visit was late on a Friday night, and while it was busy, we had missed the dinner rush and were able to get a nice booth.  Our server greeted us promptly and was very attentive throughout the evening.  Our drinks were brought and refilled when needed and the wait for the sushi to be prepared was minimal for all the items we ordered.
Overall Impression: We enjoyed the Osaka Seafood Steakhouse in Roseville.  It had a cool atmosphere and pretty good sushi.  The hibachi is reasonably priced in comparison to other Japanese steakhouses in the Twin Cities, I would like to give it a try with a group in the future.
Osaka Seafood Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Jun 102012

Cuisine: American, Barbeque, Pizza
Restaurant Features: Banquet Room, Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: Red Wing, MN
Address: 4243 Hwy 61  Red Wing, MN 55066  651-388-9866
Hours: Daily 11am
Links: Smokin’ Oak Website * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located on Hwy 61 just west of Downtown Redwing, The Smokin’ Oak is a stand-alone restaurant specializing in Rotisserie and Barbequed meats.  Greeting you as soon as you walk in the door is the oak-burning fire with a special rotisserie aparatus.

The restaurant is divided into a dining room on one side and a bar on the other.  The dining room is nothing fancy, just a handful of tables spread out and a row of booths along a couple of the walls.  It felt more like a diner than a barbeque joint and wasn’t particularly busy on a beautiful Monday evening (Memorial Day).

The bar area is small but there are a handful of booths that run along the outer walls.  There are a couple of nice flat screen TVs hanging above the bar and several beers on tap.

Menu: Appetizers at The Smokin’ Oak include Fully Loaded Potato Skins, Bull Bites, Smokin’ Oak BBQ Nachos, Rotisserie Chicken Quesadilla, Wood-Fired Wings (served with Buffalo, Teriyaki or BBQ), Boneless Wings, Artichoke Dip, Artichoke Bites, Onion Rings, and  Cheese Curds.

Salads offered include House Salad, Rotisserie Chicken, Classic Caesar with Chicken, Grilled Steak, Mandarin Chicken, Oriental Chicken, and Orange Sesame Salad.  There is also a Soup du Jour and a Soup, Salad and Bread combo.

Wood Grilled Burgers include Classic, Smokehouse BBQ with Bacon, Mushroom and Swiss, Juicy Lucy, Philly Burger, The Big Bleu, California Burger, and The Big Oak (topped with brisket and cheddar).

Sandwiches are served with french fries or sweet potato fries and beans or coleslaw.  You can upgrade to onion rings for $1.50 extra.  Options include Pulled Pork, Rotisserie Chicken, Beef Brisket, Memphis-Stule Pulled Pork, Chicken & Bacon Ranch, Spicy Rotisserie Chicken, Pesto Chicken, The Burnside Steak Sandwich, The Re-Done Reuben, Southwest Brisket Sandwich, and Philly Steak Sandwich.

Rotisserie Dinners offered at The Smokin’ Oak include Rotisserie Chicken Dinner, BBQ Chicken Dinner, Southern-Style Brisket Dinner, Pork Tenderloin, House Ribs, and Chicken and Rib Combo.

Smokin’ Oak also has steaks including Prime Rib (10 or 16oz), Sirloin (8 or 16oz), and Filet Mignon (6 oz).  Make it a combo by adding shrimp, crab legs or 4-bone rib.

Dinner Entrees include Walleye, Jumbo Shrimp, Salmon, King Crab, Chicken N Biscuits, Beef Stroganoff, Jumbo Shrimp Scampi, Sizzling Fajitas, Carne Asada, and Chicken or Shrimp Alfredo.

Stone-Fired Pizzas include The Viking, Chicken and Ranch, House of Bleu, Barbeque, Maui Wowie, Club Med, The Classic, Veggie Classic, Chicken Alfredo and Classic Cheese.
Price guide: Appetizers $7-10  Burgers/Sandwiches $8-13 Rotisserie Meats $13-26  Entrees $11-19

Happy Hour:

  •  3:00 to 6:00 Monday thru Friday
  • $1 off rail drinks and domestic bottles
  • $5 Pint and Jumbo wood fired wings
  • $3.75 Cuervo margaritas on the rocks
  • $2.00 off select appetizers.

Weekly Specials:

Monday ~ Mexican Night
What we ordered: We skipped right past the appetizers and ordered our entrees.  I ordered the Pesto Chicken Sandwich ($10), which was very good. The rotisserie chicken was tossed with fresh pesto and balsamic vinegar, then topped with feta cheese, thinly sliced red onion, and roasted red peppers. It was served on a hoagie roll that was too soft.  I loved it and will try to recreate it at home.  A nice and somewhat light summer meal.  The sandwich comes with chips but I upgraded to onion rings for $2.

My companion ordered the Chicken and Ribs Combo ($19) which came with half a rotisserie chicken, four bones of very meaty pork ribs, baked beans and coleslaw.  The smoke from the oak really gave it great flavor but they were also well seasoned.

We both wanted to try the Beef Brisket ($14), so we ordered that as well to take with us. The order came with four thick slices of beef brisket, a side of fries, coleslaw,  baked beans and garlic toast.  The brisket had an average amount of fat on it,which made it juicy and gave it nice flavor.  The beans and the coleslaw were ordinary but good, the french fries were the only thing that wasn’t the greatest and that was simply because they were under cooked and not at all crispy.  An extra minute or two in the fryer could have alleviated that issue, otherwise everything was very good.

Service: We had very good service at The Smokin’ Oak.  We were promptly greeted and shown to our table on a not-so-busy Memorial Day.  Our server greeted us within minutes, took our drink orders, and told us that Monday is Mexican night.  She then presented us with a specialty menu.  After she took our order, it took about 15 minutes for the food to arrive.  She was great about keeping our drinks filled and promptly brought us our check when we had finished eating.
Overall Impression: The Smokin’ Oak delivers delicious rotisserie meats smoked over an open fire as well as a selection of other tasty menu items.  The service is good and the restaurant is conveniently located on Hwy 61 with its own parking lot.  Definitely try it out next time you’re in Red Wing!

May 052012

Cuisine: French
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking, Sidewalk Patio
Location: Uptown Minneapolis
Address: 1600 W. Lake St.  Minneapolis, MN 55408  612.827.5710
Hours: Sun-Thurs 8am-1am * Fri-Sat 8am-2am
Links: Barbette Website * Barbette on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located in Uptown at the corner of Lake St and Irving Ave, Barbette is much bigger inside than it might appear from the exterior.  The irregular-shaped bar run along one side of the restaurant, with many tables in all direction surrounding it.  There are simple pendant lights suspended from the industrial-style ceiling and eclectic pieces of art adorning the walls.

Menu: Breakfast items include Croissant, Scone, Muffin, Fruit Salad, Yougurt, Omelette, Quiche, Poached Organic Eggs, Buckwheat Crepe with Scrambled Eggs, Herbs, Brie and Strawberries, Eggs with Bacon or Sausage, Waffles and French Toast.

Sandwiches served from 11am-5pm include Croque Monsier, Croque Madame, Fischer Farms Ham and Brie Crepe, Royale with Cheese, Spinach, Roasted Tomato and Chevre Crepe.

Salads include Field Greens, Roasted Beet Salad, Nicoise, Cobb, and Grilled Skirt Steak Salad.

Appetizers served after 5pm include Oysters, Daily Soup, Daily Tartare, Steamed Mussels, Pommes Frites, Seared Scallops, Pea & Carrots, Daily Vegetable, Warm Olives, Linguini with Grilled Asparagus, Charcuterie Platter, Truffled Whipped Brie, Fondue au Fromage, Artisanal Cheese and Fruit Plate.

Barbette’s Entrees include Fischer Farms Grilled Pork Loin, Steak Frites, Langostine and Seared Scallops, Steak Helene, Roasted Kadejan Chicken, Pan Seared Atlantic Cod, English Pea Risotto with Pecorino Romano, Ham Hock & English Pea Risotto, and Halibut.

For dessert, Barbette features Vanilla Creme Brulee, Carrot Cake, Sorbet, Molten Chocolate Cake,
Price guide: Breakfast $2-13  Sandwiches $10-13  Appetizers $5-15 Entrees $18-38

Happy Hour:

  • Mon-Fri 3-6pm  *  Sun-Thu 10pm-1am
  • $3 PBR
  • $4 House wine and bubbly
  • $4 Domestic Taps
  • $5 Select appetizers

Weekly Specials:

  • Mondays- 5 to 10 p.m., Barbette prepares 4 to 5 course dinners, including dessert and/or a cheese course for $32. Menus often include sustainable harvested fish or locally farmed meats, but Barbette is happy to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, and others with dietary constraints.

What we ordered: My companion and I shared the Nicoise Salad to start.  There was a pile of greens with roasted red peppers, purple potato, olives, green beans, anchovies, soft boiled egg and ahi tuna.  The tuna was  seared perfectly and had almost a smoky taste to it.  It was great!

My companion and I decided to try several of the appetizers for dinner rather than order entrees.  Barbette serves steamed mussels two ways: one with white wine, lemon and garlic, and the other with a
chorizo-harissa sauce.  We tried the Chorizo-Harissa sauce, a spicy garlic red pepper sauce.  The order had several small mussels, all cooked tender.  We both thought these were very good.  It was served with three slices of crustini.

The “Tartare of the Day” happened to be Steak Tartare.  This was one item on the List of 100 Food to Eat Before You Die (The Food List Challenge) that neither of us had previously tried but I had heard that Barbette was the best place to have it, so we decided to order this too.  When it arrived, it resembled a pile of raw hamburger topped with a very soft egg and my companion and I both shared a look before we cautiously dug in.  It was really good!! The beef was so tender that it had a texture similar to sashimi.  It was served chilled and tasted of garlic and must’ve been marinated in a white wine.  It was served with crustini and field greens, mustard and slices of dill pickle.

We also tried the Truffled Whipped Brie, served with crustini and field greens.  This was wonderful if you like brie and truffles!  We put a little on the bread and then topped it with some of the steak tartare and the combo was really good!

Service: We had reservations on the Thursday night of Dining Out for Life and Barbette was very busy.  There is a very small lot in the back of the restaurant and it fills up quickly, and I wasn’t lucky enough to get a spot.  Be prepared to walk a couple of blocks, parking is hard to come by.  We entered Barbette through the side entrance and there didn’t appear to be a host stand nearby but it was quite busy already so we started walking toward the front when the host spotted us and brought us to our table.  We were greeted by our server within five minutes, who then took our drink order and told us about the daily specials.  She was knowledgeable about the menu and had good recommendations for us.  The food was brought out in two courses, as we had requested.  After dinner we ended up moving to one of the tables on the patio where we were joined by a couple of friends for drinks.  Our new server easily  transferred to the new server, who was also very attentive.
Overall Impression: Barbette is regarded as one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities and it is easy to see why.  The service is very good and although the menu is somewhat limited, it is well executed.  If you want to try Steak Tartare, Barbette is a excellent choice.
Barbette on Urbanspoon

Apr 152012

Cuisine: American, Pizza, Pasta
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flat Panel TVs, On-Site Parking, Patio Dining
Locations: Apple Valley, Blaine, Eagan, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Roseville, Uptown, St Cloud, Duluth
Addresses and Maps:
Apple Valley ~ 14998 Glazier Ave Apple Valley, MN 55124 (952) 891-4600
Blaine~ 198 Northtown Dr Blaine, MN 55434 (763) 783-3414
Duluth ~ 327 Lake Avenue South  Duluth, MN 55802 (218) 720-2966
Eagan ~ 1312 Town Centre Dr Eagan, MN 55123 (651) 688-0882
Eden Prairie ~ 12300 Singletree Lane Suite 100 Eden Prairie, MN 55344 (952) 946-1400
Minnetonka ~ 17790 Highway 7 Minnetonka, MN 55345 (952) 401-0030
Plymouth ~ 3505 Vicksburg Lane  Plymouth, MN 55447 (763) 744-1221
Roseville ~ 2100 N Snelling Ave Roseville, MN 55113 (651) 639-0303
St Cloud ~ 4040 2nd Street South St Cloud, MN 56301 (320) 259-1103
Uptown ~ 2841 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55408 (612) 870-1918

Hours: Daily 11am-2am (food until 1am)
Links: Old Chicago Website * Old Chicago on Facebook

Atmosphere: The Roseville location of Old Chicago is located at Har Mar Mall,  facing Snelling Avenue.  The restaurant space has both tables and booths that are arranged to break up the space into smaller areas.  There are flat screen TVs tuned on to sports, as well as neon beer signs all over the restaurant and bar area.  There aren’t a whole lot of windows.

The Bar Area is adjacent to the dining area, just to the left of the main entrance.  Old Chicago is known for all the beers they carry; at least 30 on tap!  The Roseville location also has a large patio area facing Snelling Avenue.

Menu: Appetizers include Spicy Spinach Dip, Sampler Platter, Italian Nachos, Artichoke Dip, Nachos Grande, Chicken Tenders, Garlic Cheese Bread, Sicilian Pepperoni Rolls, Wings, and Mozzarella Sticks.

Small Plates include Mini Italian Meatballs, Mediterranean salad, Fried Spicy Pickles, Fried Mac N’ Cheese, and Tomato & Mozzarella Caprese.

Old Chicago also has Salads such as the Roasted Chicken Salad, Asian Chicken Salad, Harvest Salad with Balsamic Chicken, Classic Chicken Caesar, Mediterranean Salad, Crispy Chicken Salad, and House Salad.  Soups include Beef Chili and Potato Chowder.

Sandwiches and Burgers come with fries or coleslaw.  Options include Chicago Stromboli, Italian Sausage Stromboli, Classic Italian Melt, Spicy Chicago Beef, Prosciutto with Lettuce and Tomato, California Chicken Sandwich, Classic Club, and Chicken Wrap.  Burgers include Old Chicago Cheeseburgers, Guacamole Burger, and Bacon Cheeseburger.

Pasta options at Old C are Lasagna, Meatballs and Spaghetti, Chicken Alfredo, Chicken Mac N Cheese, and Classic Spaghetti.

You can also order Entrees such as Shrimp Basket, Fish & Chips, Crispy Chicken Tenders, Fisherman’s Catch, 8 oz Sirloin, and Grilled Sirloin with Shrimp.

Old Chicago is famous for their Pizzas which come with either Classic New York Style Crust, Deep Dish Chicago-Style, and Artisan Style.  Artisan options are Three Cheese with Tomato and Pepperoni, Proscuitto and Mushroom, and Roasted Chicken Pesto.  Specialty pizzas include “Chicago Seven”, Double Deckeroni, Meat Me, The Classic, Hawaiian, Thai Pie, Vegetarian Seven, and Malibu Veggie.

Old Chicago serves a variety of Calzones in addition to their famous Pizzas, including Italian Grinder, Monterey Chicken, Famous “Chicago Seven”, Meat Me, Spinach Artichoke, and Build Your Own.

Desserts offered include Famous Big Cookie, Little Big Cookie, Homemade Cheesecake, and Turtle Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Price guide: Appetizers $3-10  Sandwiches $9-10  Entrees $8-16
Late Night Happy Hour: 9pm-Midnight

  • $1 off all pints, mini one-topping pizzas
  • $2 Miller Lite Pints and Grainbelt Nordeast pints
  • $3 Surly pints, wells, and house wines
  • $4 Sicilian Pepperoni Rolls
  • $5 Artichoke Dip, Italian Nachos and Nachos Grande
  • $.50 Wings (only on Wednesdays, min 4 per order)
    (all late night food specials require a minimum beverage purchase per person)

What we ordered: A couple of us ordered The Classic to share. I have had the pizza at Old Chicago many years earlier and I didn’t remember it standing out, so I had the preconceived notion that I wasn’t going to like it.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was, as was my companion.  We got the deep-dish crust that was about an inch thick with a crispy, dense crust.  Unlike most Chicago-style pizzas, the sauce on this pizza was under the cheese, rather than on top, yet it was still crispy.  It was topped with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms and garlic.  Very good, I would definitely order this again.

One of my companions ordered the Spicy Chicago Beef sandwich which was an excellent choice.  This sandwich was served hot with a pile of tender, sliced roast beef, melted provolone cheese, spicy homemade pepper giardiniera and sweet red pepper mayo.  Served with french fries. It was so good that when I tried a bite, I ended up eating the entire half ;)

Another companion ordered the Fish and Chips.  The order came with four strips of fried cod, salt and vinegar fries, coleslaw and  a tangy tartar sauce.  The fish was very crispy but the fish within was hot and tasty.

Service: We arrived for a late dinner and the restaurant was still fairly busy.  Our server was attentive and our food was prepared in the appropriate amount of time for what we ordered (deep dish pizzas take a little longer).
Overall Impression: Old Chicago is a laid-back place to get a good pizza, sandwich or burger and a large selection of beers.  Yes, it is a big chain restaurant but the food is consistently good.
Old Chicago on Urbanspoon

Apr 072012

Cuisine: Breakfast, South American
Restaurant Features: Beer & Wine, On-Site Parking,
Location: Northeast Minneapolis, MN
Address:  2851 Central Avenue NE  Minneapolis, MN 55418  612-788-1328
Hours: Mon-Thur: 11a–3p / 5p–10p Fri: 11a–11p  Sat: 8a–11p  Sun: 8a–9a
Links: Chimborazo Website * Chimborazo on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Chimborazo is located in Northeast Minneapolis on Central Ave at 29th Street.  The building is small and stands alone at the corner and the sign is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.  Inside the restaurant there are several tables running along the walls and a handful of round tables in the middle.  It is cozy, with warm yellow walls and framed woven tapestries in the style native to South America.  Each table had a little vase with cute fresh flowers that we thought was a nice touch.

Menu: Breakfast is available from 8am-2pm and includes Chimborazo (pancakes, roast pork and egg), Tungurahua (eggs, rice, beans), Cotopaxi, Llapingachos (potato pancakes with onion and cheese), Mote Pillo (Hominy with scrambled eggs), Tortilla de Puerco, Tortilla de Espinaca), Buttermilk Pancakes, Pancakes de Platanos, Empanada de Queso, Eggs, Chorizo, and Bacon.

Appetizers include Ceviche de Camaron, Muchin de Yuca (cassava croquettes filled with onion and cheese), Yuca Frita, Empanada de Queso, Empanada de Carne, Llapingachos, Patacones con Queso, and Platano Maduro.

Chimborazo has a selection of Sopas including Soup of the Day, Encebollado, Caldo de Bolas de Verde, and Caldo de Bagre.

Sandwiches offered include Roasted Pork, Grilled Chicken and Veggie.

Entrees at Chimborazo include Hornados con Papas, Seco de Carne, Seco de Pollo, Saltado, Milanesa de Pollo, Churrasco, Llapingachos con Chorizo, Chaulafan (Ecuadorian Fried Rice), Encocado de Mahi Mahi or Shrimp, Chupe de Pescado, and Ecuatoriano Vegetariano.

Desserts include Coconut Batido, Tres Leches Cake, and Higos con Queso
Price guide: Appetizers $2-10 Sandwiches $7-8  Entrees $9-12
What we ordered: Chimborazo does not have a bar but does serve beer and wine in addition to a couple of non-alcoholic drinks such as the Coconut Batido.  This was my first time trying this particular batido and I loved the toasted coconut flavor of the drink, it gave it a nice nutty taste that was quite pronounced in a very good way.  It was a frozen blend of coconut milk, ice, toasted coconut, (and perhaps other magical ingredients) then was topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut. It wasn’t overly sweet but would be great for dessert; I took me an hour to finish it but it was delicious.

My companion and I started off with a couple of different Appetizers, starting with the Platanos Maduros.  These were thick slices of sweet platanos (banana) fried and then topped with soft, mild, melted white cheese.  The platanos were served with the most delicious sauce called aji criollo, an Ecuadorian hot sauce made with hot peppers, cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.  The spicy, citrusy sauce worked well with the sweetness of the banana and creaminess of the cheese. Yum!

We also tried the Empanada de Queso.  This pocket of dough was filled with soft, mild white cheese then fried until golden brown and flaky.  It was dusted with powdered sugar that gave it a hint of sweetness.  This makes a good appetizer, snack or dessert!

We also tried the Empanada de Carne.  This was fantastic! Inside the beautiful crispy brown crust were bite-sized pieces of grilled steak, peas, red pepper and onions.  It was served with fresh diced tomatoes and I also dipped it in the aji criollo sauce which made it even better.

There were many dishes that sounded really good but I ended up ordering the Hornados con Papas for my entree.  The pork is slow roasted for 16 hours until it is extremely tender.  The pork was served with llapingachos, which were ‘pancakes’ of creamy seasoned mashed potatoes filled with cheese and then browned.  Very tasty! The dish was also served with salad and mote, which is what hominy is called in Spanish.  It is similar to corn but bigger and not nearly as sweet.

My companion ordered the Encocado with Mahi Mahi.  This dish was rich and full of flavor, the sauce made from coconut milk, coconut, lime juice, orange juice, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, bell pepper and cilantro.  It was both sweet and savory at the same time, and went really well with the mild mahi mahi.  The rice was just the right accompaniment to soak up the rich sauce.

For dessert we shared the Tres Leches Cake, which was very good .  It wasn’t overly moist but the leches were still distinguishable.  It was topped with whipped cream and slices of fresh strawberries.  I wish I hadn’t been too full to have more than a bite or two.

Service: My companion and I met at Chimborazo on a weekday when it was just opening for dinner.  We had our pick of both parking spots and tables in the dining room.  Our server was nice and took time to explain various items from the menu and we were very happy with her suggestions.

Overall Impression:  We both enjoyed Chimborazo a lot and I am now very much turned on to South American food.  The food and service were both very good at Chimborazo and the prices were reasonable for the amount of food we got.  If you like coconut, there are many dishes you will likely enjoy at Chimborazo. We will be back!
Chimborazo on Urbanspoon

Mar 222012

Cuisine: American, Chinese, Dessert
Restaurant Features: On-Site Parking, Counter Service for Take-Out
Location: Roseville, MN
Address: 1163 Larpenteur Ave W St Paul, MN 55113 (651) 488-6687
Hours: Daily 11am-9pm
Links: House of Wong Website * House of Wong on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: House of Wong is a large restaurant located within a large strip-mall in Roseville.  The restaurant is long and narrow shaped, with several high-backed booths that run all the way to the back of the restaurant. The taller booths give you a sense of privacy and the way they are placed might make you forget the restaurant is as big as it is. The decor of the House of Wong is more casual and homey than sophisticated Asian, but the hand-carved wooden doors and  handful of Asian vases serve to remind you this is indeed, a Chinese Restaurant.

Menu: Appetizers include Egg Rolls, Cantonese Chicken Wings, Fried Potstickers, Szechuan Wings, Chinese Barbeque Pork, Crispy Chicken Fingers, Jumbo Golf Shrimp, Meat Wontons, Cream Cheese Wontons, Shrimp Toast, Fried Chicken Livers, and Onion Rings.

The House of Wong has several variations of Chow Mein including Meat, Diced Chicken, Sliced Mushroom, Subgum, Chicken Mushroom, Chicken Subgum, Shrimp, and Barbeque Pork.  Lomein entrees are made with either Chicken, Barbeque Pork, Beef, Shrimp, or the House of Wong Special Lomein.

Fried Rice specials include Chicken, BBQ Pork, Beef, Fresh Shrimp, Special Fried Rice, and Meatless.

Chinese Chicken dishes include Sweet & Sour, Sesame, Orange, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chicken and Broccoli, Chicken Almond Ding, Kung Pao,  Szechuan, Chicken in Garlic Sauce, General Tsao’s, and Curry Chicken.

Beef Dishes include Beef & Broccoli, Beef & Snow Peapods, Beef Pepper Steak, Mongolian, Kung Pao, Szechuan, and Mandarin Beef.  Pork entrees include Sweet & Sour and Sesame.

Vegetarian and Seafood plates include Gulf Shrimp & peapods or Broccoli, Szechuan Shrimp, Kung Pao Shrimp, Triple Kung Pao, Hunan Triple Crown, Szechuan Vegetarian Tofu Stir Fry.

You can also get a  Noodle or Rice Bowls topped with either Mandarin beef, Teriyaki Chicken, Szechuan Garlic Chicken, Pepper Steak, Chicken Almond Ding, Kung Pao Chicken, Beef and Broccoli, and Szechuan Vegetarian Tofu.

There are a number of combination plates as well.

Besides the large amount of Chinese dishes, House of Wong also has several American Items on their menu with Entrees such as Hamburgers, Fresh Roasted Turkey, Grilled or Breaded Pork Chops, Leg of Pork, Pork tenderloin, Frilled Round Steak, Cod Filet, Baby Beef Liver, Sauteed Chicken Breast, Breaded Pork Cutlet, Jumbo Golf Shrimp,  Hawaiian Ham Steak and Fried Chicken.

Sandwiches include Triple Decker Club, Grilled Cheese, Cold Turkey, Hot Turkey, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Ham and Cheese, Chicken or Tuna Salad, and Fish & Chips Basket.

You can even order Italian entrees like Spaghetti, Meat Lasagna, Mostaccioli, Chicken Parmigiana, and Fettuccine with Chicken and Broccoli.

The homemade pies at House of Wong include Banana Cream, Coconut Cream, Chocolate Silk, Apple, Custard, Pumpkin, and on Sundays there is also Carrot Cake.
Price guide: Appetizers $4-7  Entrees $8-12
What we ordered: We started with the Shrimp Toast, which was fabulous! The bottom was made with a piece of cocktail-sized bread and then large pieces of shrimp were butterflied, seasoned, and then placed on top and then battered and deep-fried.  What a delightful combination of textures! The toast was crispy yet the top was light, fluffy,  crunchy and somewhat greasy.  It was served with hot mustard and a mild duck sauce.  I have only had shrimp toast at a handful of restaurants and I think House of Wong has the best :)

We also tried the Barbeque Pork appetizer.  Unbelievably good!  The pork was so tender you could cut it with a fork and the outside was glazed with a sweet sauce, complimenting the natural flavor of the pork.  This is a must-have every time I visit the House of Wong and is especially good when dipped in the spicy hot mustard and duck sauce. Yum!

We also had the Pork Fried Rice, which had several small pieces of the barbeque pork that I like so much.  The rice was deliciously flavorful with green onions, scrambled egg, mushrooms and bean sprouts and the portion size was very generous.

We also ate the Shrimp and Mushroom Egg Foo Young.  I usually love this dish at House of Wong but on this visit the shrimp seemed kind of fishy and the sauce was very very salty.  It wasn’t the worst but it wasn’t nearly as good as the many other times that we have had it over the years.

The entree that we tried was the Lomein with Beef Tenderloin.  The order came with a huge pile of stir-fried Cantonese egg noodles that were cooked with a sweet hoisin sauce with slices of onion, pea pods, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, slices of carrot and several big pieces of beef tenderloin.

Every entree comes with a free dessert and I chose the Custard Pie, as I do nearly every time I visit House of Wong.  It is thick, rich and creamy; a perfectly set custard with a bubbly browned top.  Love it!

Service: Our visit was at dinner time on a Monday and the restaurant was busier then you would expect so early in the week.  We were greeted by the friendly young host who brought us to a booth after asking our preference.  We waited a few minutes before we were greeted by our server, who took our drink order right away, followed by our order for appetizers.  The appetizers were brought out about ten minutes after we ordered, the entrees came out about 15 minutes later.  Some of the minor requests we had seemed to take longer than necessary but overall it was good.
Overall Impression: I have been eating at this restaurant for 30+ years now and while the service can be hit or miss, the food is consistently good.  It isn’t gourmet Chinese, but it is what I would consider Chinese comfort food since I have been eating at House of Wong since I was a toddler.  Large portions and good quality meats and veggies.

House of Wong on Urbanspoon

Mar 172012

Cuisine: Tex-Mex, Mexican
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flat Screen TVs, Happy Hour, On-Site Parking

Locations: Coon Rapids. Columbia Heights, Roseville and Waite Park, MN

Addresses and Maps:
Columbia Heights– 5085 Central Avenue NE Columbia Heights, MN 55421  763-571-7784
Coon Rapids– 8955 Springbrook Dr Coon Rapids, MN 55433 763-432-2479
Roseville– 1925 Perimeter Rd Roseville, MN 55113  651-287-4055
Waite Park– 314 West Division St Waite Park, MN 56387 320- 230-8633

Hours: Sun 11am9pm * Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm * Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

Links: La Casita Website * La Casita on FacebookGoogle Map

Atmosphere: The Roseville location of La Casita is located on Perimeter Rd, just a few blocks west of Fairview Ave.  The restaurant is quite large and has many different dining areas, including a large indoor courtyard.  There are historic photographs and hand-painted murals on several of the walls, many of which are depicting Mexican soldiers.

The courtyard is well lit from the skylights overhead and the decor is bright and colorful.

The Bar Area is to the left when you walk in and is quite spacious, with several bistro tables as well as seating along the length of the bar.  There are a handful of flat screen TVs hung up over the bar.

Menu: Appetizers include Chili con Queso, Queso Blanco, Chicken Fiesta Flatbread, Nachos, Ultimate Nachos, Layered Bean Dip, Quesadilla, and Veggie Quesadilla.  Tortilla Soup also available.

Salads offered include Taco Salad, Mexican Grilled Chicken, Southwestern Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Fajita Salad, and House Salad.

La Casita offers many Burritos including El Grande Burrito, Burrito Supreme, Shredded Beef Burrito, Burrito Colorado, Garden Burrito, Fajita Burrito, Chimichangas, Blanco Chimichanga, Grande Chimichanga, and Pollo Fundido.

Skillet Entrees offered at La Casita include Grilled Steak Fajitas, Grilled Chicken Breast Fajitas, Shrimp Fajitas, Garden Fajitas, and Fajitas Supremas.  Other Grilled items include Tacos Al Carbon, Grilled Chicken Breast, Carne Asada, Rancheros, Tex-Mex Chicken Sandwich, and Fiesta Burger.

Favorite Mexican Entrees include Chalupa, Mexican Club, Flautas, Baja Tacos, Mazatlan (spoinach and mushrooms in wheat tortilla), Arroz con Pollo, Carnitas, Chili Colorado, and Enchiladas.

Entrees with Seafood include Seafood Enchiladas, Cancun, Tacos de Dorado (Mahi Mahi) and Tortilla Crusted Tilapia.

There are a number of combination meals as well.
Price guide: Appetizers $6-10   Burritos $10-12 Skillets $12-16 Entrees $8-11

Happy Hour:

  • Daily 3-6pm
  • $1.00 off House Margaritas, Tap Beers, House Wines, and Rail Drinks.
  • Free Appetizer bar (Monday through Friday 3-6, 4.95 minimum purchase) featuring: chili con Queso dips, Bean dip, Fresh Veggies and dip, and more.
  • Late Night Happy Hour 9pm-Close = 2 for 1 House Margaritas, Tap Beers, Rail Drinks

Daily Specials:

  • Tuesday – ½ price house margaritas (open until close)
  • Wednesday – Tall tap domestic beer $3.00, Tall imports Specialties $4.00, Tacos $.99 (7 to close)
  • Thursday – Long Island Teas $4.00, Sauza Gold Margaritas $5.00
  • Sunday – Kids Eat Free Every Sunday – Your children (8 and younger) who accompany you on Sundays can select one item from our Children’s menu for FREE (beverage extra).  Children must be accompanied by parent who orders food of equal or greater value.

Birthday Special –Receive a FREE DINNER of your choice with purchase of entree of equal value.  Not valid with other offers or coupons.  (Drinks, appetizers and desserts are extra; I.D. required)

What we ordered: Our visit was during Happy Hour so I took advantage of the $3 House Margarita.  It was quite large for the price and was strong and tart.  Perfect for the price!

If you dine during Happy Hour you are welcome to the Chips and Salsa Bar, where this is quite a selection of different dips including Bean Dip, Carne con Queso, Salsa, Salsa Verde, Queso Blanco, and a Smoky Salsa.  All this for free, what a deal!

Another item on the Nacho Bar was a huge pan of hot, fresh Nachos Supreme.

This was my first visit to La Casita in nearly four years and I noticed immediately that they changed the menu in that time and as soon as I saw that they offered Fish Tacos, my decision was made. These “El Dorado” tacos came with two double-corn tortillas each piled with sauteed strips of mahi mahi, fresh cilantro, lettuce and tomato with a spicy chipotle mayo.  The plate was piled with salad, savory Mexican rice, and freshly sauteed peppers, red onions, zucchini, yellow squash, and broccoli.  I topped my taco with additional salsa and some of the chipotle mayo and they were awesome!

One of my companions ordered a Beef Enchilada and one Chicken Enchilada a la carte.  The beef enchilada was a corn tortilla stuffed with mildly seasoned ground beef and covered with a red chili sauce with melted monterey jack and cheddar.  This was enjoyed very much.

The Chicken Enchilada had shredded chicken stuffed inside a corn tortilla, smothered with salsa verde and melted cheddar jack cheeses.  This was decent but the beef enchilada was preferable.

Another companion ordered the Veggie Quesadilla, a large whole wheat tortilla was stuffed with cheeses and roasted peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli, and yellow squash.  It was served with guacamole and a bed of lettuce.

Service: We had very good service at La Casita.  My companions and I met early on a Tuesday evening during Happy Hour before it started to get busy, and pretty much had our pick of tables.  Our server was friendly and attentive, yet left us alone to talk and eat.  We loved the complimentary Chips & Salsa Bar and another positive was the split checks.
Overall Impression: La Casita is one of my favorite Tex-Mex restaurants around, even more so now that they offer fish tacos! Big portions at very reasonable prices.
La Casita Mexican on Urbanspoon

Feb 052012

Cuisine: American, Breakfast
Restaurant Features: Cash-Only, On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 1446 Rice St  St Pal, MN 55117 651-489-0020
Hours: Daily 5am-3pm
Links: Coffee Cup Website * Google Map

Atmosphere: This year celebrates the 60th Anniversary of Coffee Cup on Rice St, making it one of the oldest breakfast joints in the city.  The front room where you enter has booths as well as a couple of counter-top dining benches that seat six on each side.

The dining room swings around the corner where several wooden tables lead back into an atrium.

Menu: Breakfast Items are served all day at Coffee Cup.  Dishes include Steak &Eggs, Grilled Pork Chop and Eggs, Grilled Chicken and Eggs, Hamburger Steak & Eggs, Ranch Breakfast, French Toast, and Buttermilk Pancakes.

Specialty Omelets are made with three eggs and include Everything, vegetable, Denver, Ham & Cheese, Gyros, Mushroom & Cheese, Turkey & Cheese, Bacon & Cheese, Sausage & Cheese, and Feta Cheese.

Salads include Greek, Grilled Chicken Breast, and Combination Salad.

Sandwiches served Monday-Friday and come with choice of potato and cup of soup: Grilled Bacon  Cheese, Bacon Cheeseburger, Hamburger, Tuna Salad Sandwich, and Reuben.  Additional sandwiches include Bacon & Egg, Ham & Egg, Sausage & Egg, Grilled Cheese, Fish, Fried Ham, Denver, Club House, Pork Cutlet and Grilled Chicken.

Burgers served daily include Patty Melt, Hamburger, Jumbo Hamburger, Cheeseburger, California Burger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Jumbo Cheeseburger, Texas Melt, and California Hamburger Deluxe.

Entrees served daily include Roast Sirloin of Beef with Mashed Potatoes, Roast Turkey, Hot Turkey Sandwich, Hot Beef Sandwich, Breaded Pork Chops, Grilled Pork Chops, Gyro Sandwich, Sirloin Steak, Hamburger Steak, Beef with Onions or Bacon, Pork Cutlet, Fried Chicken, Boneless Chicken Strips, Breaded Cod, Steak & Shrimp, Fried Shrimp.

Coffee Cup also has desserts including Cheesecake, Ice Cream, Cake, Apple Pie, Banana Cream Pie, lemon Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and French Silk Pie.
Price guide: Breakfast $6-13
Weekly Specials:

  • Tuesdays: Baked Meatloaf

What we ordered: I started with a cup of Chicken Dumpling Soup.  It was delicious; hot and flavorful with a good amount of bite-sized dumplings and shredded chicken.

One of my companions and I decided to split the Reuben Sandwich. I knew better than to order a Reuben at a diner and the sandwich was about what I expected; cheap, processed corned beef and Swiss cheese. I did like the grilled bread and sauerkraut though, they were good, as were the steak cut fries.

Another companion ordered the Gyro, which contained pre-sliced strips of gyro meat layered onto pita bread.  The tomato and onion were thrown on top, Tzatziki sauce on the side.

Another companion ordered a Cheeseburger with Fries and a side of Coleslaw.  It looked like your basic 1/4lb frozen beef patty but I heard no complaints!

The coleslaw looked good and it was a really big portion.

The last of us ordered the Denver Omelet with Hashbrowns. This three-egg omelet had peppers, onion and ham and a lot of American cheese inside and out.  It was served with a giant pile of hashbrowns and buttered toast.

Service:   Our server was nice and our food was prepared quickly. Coffee Cup is CASH ONLY, so be prepared.
Overall Impression: I personally wasn’t impressed by the food at Coffee Cup but it is a St Paul breakfast institution with big portions at very reasonable prices.
Coffee Cup on Urbanspoon
Coffee Cup Reviews in St Paul