Monday, March 2, 2015

Best restaurant?!

By Phyllis Louise Harris
March 2015

The March issue of Mpls/StPaul magazine incudes its staff’s list of 50 best restaurants in the Twin Cities. Only two have Asian menus, Little Szechuan and Ngon Vietnamese Bistro. Considering there are about 10,000 restaurants in Minnesota, choosing just 50 to mention is a daunting challenge. And, choosing just two out of 1,000 Asian restaurants in the state is not nearly enough. The staff went on to select its top five restaurants in Minneapolis: Bar La Grassa, Manny’s, La Belle Vie, 112 Eatery and Butcher & The Boar; and top five in St. Paul: Meritage, St. Paul Grill, Pazzaluna, Heartland and The Strip Club.

As any food writer will tell you, eating in more than 100 restaurants a year in order to write a weekly or monthly column sometimes gets more tedious than fun. For the twenty years that I was food editor of Asian Pages newspaper reaching 70,000 readers in 7 states twice a month, I do remember the many restaurants I tried that did not make it to the newspaper’s pages…probably ten times more than the ones I did write about.

What makes a restaurant stand out from its competitor? Sometimes it is the d├ęcor. Sometimes it is a creative menu that offers new flavors. Sometimes it is the freshness of the food or a creative twist on old favorites. But, most of the time it is the restaurant owners themselves. The really good ones are at the door or in the dining room greeting clients and getting their feedback. Others train good people to do that job for them while they devote their time to the kitchen. But most of all, they love what they do and it shows.

Running a restaurant is one of the toughest jobs in the world. It is part accountant, part chef, part manager, part lover of food and a lot of showmanship. It takes a person who sees trends change and adapts quickly to the demands of diners without giving up the basics that drew the crowds in the first place. These are the restaurants you will find listed in the magazine as “Reader’s Poll Results.” They include Quang, Ngon, Pho, Rainbow, Little Szechuan, Grand Szechuan, Ghandi Mahal, India Palace, Dancing Ganesha, Gorkha Palace, Origami, Masu, Fuji Ya, Sawatdee, On’s Kitchen, and Sen Yai Sen Lek in the Asian categories. Unfortunately, the choice categories were not long enough to include so many more outstanding restaurants enjoyed by thousands of people every day.

We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful restaurants offering nearly every cuisine in the world. Find your favorites and support them with your business.



Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on

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