Hotel restaurants can sometimes blend together in a generic parade of pork chops and mashed potatoes. Rare Steak & Sushi, however, bursts out of the mold with its selection of grass-fed steaks and innovative sushi. Located on the second floor of the Grand Hotel, the eatery charmed Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl of Minnesota Monthly, who raved about its grass-fed steaks. To complement cuts of filet mignon and New York strip steaks, Chef Chano also rolls up 30 varieties of sushi. The creations range from the simple—such as freshwater-eel sashimi—to the complex, including a hawaiian roll packed with tuna, pineapple, and fried almonds or the vegetarian salad roll, which Grumdahl was “especially wild about.” A quick scan of the dining room reveals a diverse collection of clientele, as the eatery—open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—appeals to locals, businesspeople, and hotel guests alike.
Blending traditional recipes with cosmopolitan decor, Sawatdee St. Paul introduces diners to familiar dishes of pad thai and pad see ew, as well as authentic meals of whole roast duck and yellow curry pattaya crab. Guests enjoy Sawatdee's smorgasbord of southeast Asian delicacies spiced to preference; chefs promise to prepare nearly any dish at spice levels ranging from the intense heat of an erupting island volcano to the comparably tolerable mildness of a baby's tantrum.
A ring of blue neon light blazes behind the full bar, which dispenses tropical caipirinhas and thai chili bloody marys.
Fresh ingredients from local suppliers abound at Crave, where patrons can create their ideal plates by hand-selecting from an array of all-natural and organic eats. The buffet table sports an elaborate ensemble of tongue tempters, with items such as fresh baked goods, seasonal fruit, applewood-smoked bacon, and egg strata orbiting a chef's selection of fish. Toppings of maple syrup, whipped cream, and berry compote eagerly adorn freshly-toasted checkerboards at the gourmet waffle station, and the chef's carving station showcases a selection of fine meats whittled to look like bars of soap. Champagne, mimosas, and bellinis give brunch a cosmopolitan flair, and Crave's low-lit ambience provides an intimate backdrop for shadow-puppet Civil War reenactments.
For the founders of Sakana Sushi & Hibachi - Plymouth, the road to opening a Minnesota restaurant spanned continents. The group practiced their culinary skills and sharpened their business acumen while living in the Fujain Province in mainland China. After immigrating to America and starting families in New York City, they decided to find a place to raise their children in Minnesota. This led to the collective opening an Asian restaurant in their new home using their combined cooking experience and contacts with fish markets from the East Coast. Their penchant for transforming fresh fish into salmon and spicy tuna rolls and searing savory cuts of steak with szechuan kung pao spices soon birthed two additional restaurants and at least three spin-off sitcoms.
The Giapponese menu offers Minnesotans the chance to taste delicious fish that are rarely served elsewhere in the United States, such as imported fish from the world-renowned Tsujiki fish market in Tokyo. Begin with an order of Kobe sliders ($6.95) while you take in the welcoming yet surprisingly cosmopolitan ambience, which often features live music. Giapponese's lineup of nigiri and sashimi includes a variety of signature rolls, such as the samurai crunch with salmon, yellowtail, tuna, and avocado ($15), and the Louisiana with spicy crawfish and avocado topped with walu and unagi sauce ($18). Less raw entrees include Kobe beef New York strip ($40) and mango chicken ($8). Giapponese also offer $6 bottles of wine and an extensive sake list (starts at $6) with evocative names (Wandering Poet, Dreamy Clouds, Snow Maiden) that might inspire you to scribble haikus on the nearest napkin or face. Giapponese uses sustainable fish and is working toward a menu that is 100% sustainable (the first sushi restaurant in the state to do so). Groupons are good for one per table, so treat all seven of the samurai who saved your village from bandits to some rare sushi at Giapponese.
Successful restaurateur Supenn Harrison made her first foray into the restaurant business more than 30 years ago, when she bought a burger joint in the Twin Cities. For Supenn, slinging patties wasn't enough to satisfy her love of the culinary arts; the Thailand native and former teacher quickly traded deep fryers for woks and opened her first Thai restaurant.
She eventually launched the first Sawatdee in 1983 in an abandoned warehouse, transforming the unlikely setting into something you might see in the heart of Bangkok, with gold-leaf ceilings and traditional artwork. Now, Supenn owns seven Sawatdee restaurants throughout Minnesota and has expanded the menu to include sushi dishes. Besides sharing her culinary skills through hands-on cooking classes, Supenn has disseminated her authentic Thai fare by catering birthday celebrations, family reunions, and the Rolling Stones' anti-retirement party.