Tag Archives: asian restaurant

Spice – Savage

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We had been meaning to get to Spice for ages. But it took us a Groupon with an expiration date to actually get us there. It’s not very far from us, but it’s not very convenient either. It’s not a place where we’d just stop because it’s kind of out of the way. There would have to be a specific occasion or reason to go there. In fact, many other restaurants have failed in its location.

Now I’ve been meaning to post about Spice for ages because, when I check my calendar, it looks like that first visit was in back in August!

Spice is a Thai restaurant, a cuisine I’ve found that whatever you order, you pretty much can never go wrong. We arrived and ordered our beverages. I was surprised that there was no Riesling on the wine menu. There were mostly dry whites. A sweet white wine is preferred with spicy Thai and other ethnic foods because the sweetness counteracts the spice. The wine glasses were small without correct pours, but I wasn’t expecting them to be. At Thai restaurants, my only expectation is a low-end, but enjoyable, quaffing wine.

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We asked for recommendations on the menu, too. I really wanted to try something other than my usual Thai standybs of Green Curry and Pad Thai. Our server recommended the Basil Noodle, Pad Thai and the Curries.

Go figure. Rob had been eyeing the Basil Noodle and already knew he was going to get it. In fact, he usually orders some sort of noodle dish with basil when he eats Thai food. Maybe those are safe recommendations when you don’t really know what your customers like.

While waiting for our dinners, I noticed this:

What?

Can you explain this to me?

It’s some sort of shrine setup, but there is a plate with a banana in front of it. I really know very little about Thai culture, so I’m quite curious what this is all about. If you know, please do share!

Rob’s dish:

Basil NoodleThai rice noodle stirfried with basil, onion and chillies

Basil Noodle
Thai rice noodle stirfried with basil, onion and chillies

It was a Monday after work and I had just run four miles because I was training for my first ever 5-mile race in October. I had only run four miles a couple of times, so I wasn’t feeling all that great. I was a bit nauseous and not exactly in the mind frame to think nor even to eat anything spicy. However, I knew whatever I didn’t eat could come home with me and would reheat well. So I didn’t step outside the box.

My dish:

Gaeng Keow Wan (green) with shrimp

Sweet green curry, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, basil, and peapods

This restaurant’s spice levels range from 1 to 5:

  • 1 – Mild
  • 2 – Medium – This is what I went with this time. If I chose a higher spice level, I knew I’d eat too much rice to mellow it out. I decided to try to see if I could cut back on the rice by choosing a lower spice level than I usual order.
  • 3 – Hot – This is my usual preference and what I tend to order when we get any sort of Asian take-out.
  • 4 – Thai Spicy – This is the level that Rob ordered. He likes just about the same amount of spice as I do, maybe just a bit more. His verdict on this level? TOO HOT for him! He said he needs to go down to a 3 next time. The heat didn’t keep him from enjoying his meal, though!
  • 5 – Challenging – I love that this is the way this level is described! There was a couple who was seated next to us who both ordered Pad Thai. The woman ordered it mild and the guy ordered it challenging. I would have loved to have stayed to see his reaction!

So our thoughts on this place? We loved it! Rob has gone back (out of his way) to get take out several times since! I know some people aren’t fond of Groupons because they feel that they take advantage of the company and can cause them to lose money. While that could quite possibly happen, it’s really just another way to spend advertising dollars. And this is one instance that proves that the Groupon got a customer into their restaurant and brought them back again and again!

Spice is thriving in a location where other restaurants have not. So much so, that they have opened up another location on the Apple Valley/Lakeville border. It’s another location where I’ve seen many restaurants come and go! My guess is that they’ll be around a while.

What is your favorite Thai dish and why?

Cheers~
Carrie

Chino Latino – Minneapolis

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Trying to get my husband to Chino Latino is like {insert the most difficult thing you’ve ever done here}.

We’d only been there once before, but not for food. I remember walking in and it being packed and hard to push through the crowds to get near the bar. Despite this, it still felt like a pretentious poser hang-out. I don’t even think anyone in the group stopped to get a drink. We just walked around the place (or squished our way through) and left to find another hotspot in Uptown.

But I still wanted to try the food.

When I saw a Groupon offer for Chino Latino, I knew it was the only chance that I could get Rob there. He hates crowded places and any place where you have to stand and wait. As we neared the Groupon’s expiration date (for the discounted value), I chose a beautiful Sunday afternoon this past Aguust to take drag my husband there. I figured that this would be a “safe” time to go.

Other people have told me that the portion sizes here are tiny and that food is only mediocre. So we went in expecting this. Still, the menu really intrigued me:

Street Food from the Hot Zones

I mean, who has heard of that before? From their website:

Chino Latino serves Street Food from the Hot Zones – the tropical belt that extends from the Caribbean to the Americas to Polynesia, on to Southeast Asia, India, Africa and back again. There’s no fusion cooking here. What unites our offerings is the power of their flavors, the emphasis on freshness and their embrace of ingredients and cooking styles common to the Hot Zones.

Uh… yeah. Sounds like my kinda place. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

We walked in to find the place was lit like we were in a nightclub – on a Sunday afternoon. {You’ll see below by the hues of the photos!} We sat at the bar, which we tend to do when it’s just the two of us, making sure we could use our Groupon there. We’ve never had a problem, but it’s always good to check. The restrictions read:

Limit 1 per person, may buy 1 additional as a gift. Limit 1 per table. Valid only for option purchased. Dine-in only. Not valid for happy hour. Bar Abliene option not valid on weekends; valid only for food. Bryant Lake Bowl option not valid for tickets.

The manager said that we could only use it for food. This Groupon included a list of Uptown Restaurants to choose from including Bar Abilene and Bryant Lake Bowl. Wouldn’t you get the impression with the semi-colon above that the “valid only for food” portion was just for Bar Abilene? Whatever. We had a late lunch, so I wasn’t sure we could spend $30 on all food. We definitely had to over-order. I was secretly hoping that the portion sizes were indeed as small as everyone claimed them to be!

Despite the fact that drinks were not included in our Groupon, we couldn’t pass them up:

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CRACK HO MOJITO – Don Q Limon rum, blackberry, raspberry & passion fruit purees – $13

This was one of the best mojitos I’ve ever had! The viles of purées were a fun little novelty and the twist that probably justifies the fact that it’s a $13 drink. Honestly, though, I tried the mojito by itself first without the purées and it didn’t need them at all! I did order a classic mojito afterward, not even realizing it was $10. Is that high? I feel like it is.

Rob’s drink:

crispin

Crispin Hard Apple Cider with sake yeast & organic rice syrup

We aren’t fans of Crispin Hard Cider in general. However, the sake aspect intrigued Rob. After he tasted it, he described it as “Cloudy, tasteless yeast beasties in a bottle.”

As for the food… We just  had to start with the following for an appetizer because Kat once recommended it:

pp

Popocatepe – fries erupting with black beans, queso fresco, guacamole, chile de arbol and pico de gallo – $10

This appetizer was no small portion! We barely put a dent in it. Though, it was more my thing than Rob’s. I adore black beans, guacamole and fresh tomatoes. Though our top nachos {if you’d put this in that category} still remain at Beaverton Tavern in Gladwin, Michigan and The Public House in Las Vegas, Nevada!

Then for me:

skewers

Jerk Chicken Skewers – with mango salsa and screaming gringo sauce – $8

There is a really unique kick to these! When I couldn’t decide on a skewer, they were recommended by the bartender. Talk about flavor, baby!

And for Rob:

barba

Beef Barbacoa Taco – tender oaxacan style chile-braised beef topped with pickled jalapeno and cabbage – $4

I just asked Rob what he thought of this and it must not have been memorable because he said, “No clue.” Although we did have an excellent takeout $1.75 barbacoa taco this week, so he probably had thoughts of that. Or maybe he just can’t think past this:

queso fun

Queso Fundido with Chorizo – molten cheese with sauteed mushrooms, pico de gallo, chile de arbol and chips – $15

Rob sent those chips swimming:

swimming

Rob’s chips taking a dip…

on the plate

…until they ended up on his plate.

Rob’s comment:

“I want this every day for the rest of my life.”

Okay, so I wouldn’t go that far. I personally preferred the fundido that we had at T & T in Las Vegas. But it doesn’t matter. It’s going to take my husband back to Chino Latino. That’s a win for me.

And as for the portion sizes… It depends on what you get. If you order a couple of the $4 tacos or one order of $8 skewers, you’ll be disappointed. My recommendation: Get a bunch of different things and split amongst a group.

What restaurant or food were you reluctant to try, but then fell in love with once you did?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter yesterday’s giveaway!

Cheers~
Carrie