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BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH Minneapolis 2002 - Soba's

Though the name promises Japanese cuisine, the menu at Sobas ranges from Mediterranean to Southwestern flavors. But hair-of-the-dog seekers and all-you-can-eaters can skip to the nearest pub buffet: This place doesn't even serve bloody marys. But before you wag a French-toast finger at us, know this: Sobas possesses that grail of the non-vegan brunch connoisseur--the perfectly cooked egg. American chefs had been ruining the unhatched spawn of chickens for centuries before 1999, when egg containers began including a spooky FDA-mandated advisory to "cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly." But Sobas lets "thorough" and "firm" mean exactly what you hope it will: jiggling, almost fluffy fresh whites and steaming liquid yolks--at least whenever you order eggs poached or over easy. The cooks here have raised this stuff to an art, never smothering food in fat, yet never letting it crisp too thinly. The vegetarian eggs Benedict (with guacamole and tomatoes filling in for ham) knows no peer among brunch joints, nor does the baked artichoke and egg ramekin, and both come with deliciously spiced and roasted potatoes in place of flavor-free hash browns or American fries. The black-bean omelet is just as luscious, while the greens in the garden omelet always retain cookbook-bright colors. All of these items are affordable, and served in an elegant and sunny ancient-brick-wall setting.

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