Core Competencies

New Via and Gangchen Have Little in Common, Except That They're Serving the Needs of Their Diverse Communities Uncommonly Well

There is one dish worth traveling to Gangchen for, namely, the momo ($8.99), those traditional steamed Tibetan dumplings. They offer three different versions of momo here: pork, beef, and chicken. I actually like the chicken best; for these, chewy half-moons of pasta are folded around lightly oniony and herbal ground chicken, the crescents steamed till they glisten. The beef ones are fierce and gamy, and stand up well to the red-chile oil that comes with them. The pork ones are sweet and chubby, and as good as any pot sticker in town. Every version of the momo is hearty, chewy, rib-sticking, and good; they're all served with a simple carrot-cabbage pickled salad. Any fan of Ukrainian, Polish, or Russian food is particularly instructed to try these momo; you'll be amazed at the thread connecting Tibetan food with those seemingly unrelated cuisines.

The Tibetan special Tenthu is another remarkably Slavic-seeming dish that is delicious: Thick, handmade wheat noodles are combined with broth, cabbage, greens, and your choice of tofu, seafood, or meat ($7.99 to $9.99); the result is homespun, hearty, and good. Too bad no one knows about the restaurant but me: On two of my visits to Gangchen, my guests and I were the only people in the place. "Do you think people would come here instead of the Red Dragon if they knew how solid the food is?" I asked one of my friends. "I think a nuclear bomb could drop on the Red Dragon and people would drive in from Dinkytown to drink Fog Cutters in the glassy crater," he answered. Oh, right.

Well, someone out there has to like this place. Competency, good food, and value are not so easily done that we can afford to squander them when we find them in our midst.

Via Café & Bar

 

6740 France Ave. S., Edina
952.928.9500
www.viacafebar.com

Gangchen Bar & Restaurant

 

1833 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
612.872.8663
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