Best Japanese Restaurant - 2011
Tanpopo Noodle Shop
What comes to mind when you hear "Japanese food"? If an image of sushi pops up in your head, you're hardly alone. Minnesota has its share of sushi restaurants, but less common are places that serve home-style Japanese cooking and do it well. Thank goodness, then, that we have Tanpopo. The cozy St. Paul spot has been providing bowls of steaming noodles and trays of neatly arranged teishoku for more than 10 years. Often described as a "set-meal," teishoku consists of a main dish accompanied by rice, miso soup, and another plate or two of nibbles. Order the chicken karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken) teishoku at Tanpopo and you'll receive a tray full of plates. There's of course the chicken—chunks of juicy thigh meat lightly battered and fried, dressed with grated daikon and sweet, vinegary soy sauce with a wedge of lemon; one bowl of rice and another of miso soup with tofu and wakame seaweed; and a salad of baby greens with ginger dressing and a darling plate of crunchy pickles. Is anything more comforting than a warm bowl of Japanese noodle soup? Tanpopo's soba and udon noodles are steeped in an authentic kelp- and bonito-based broth. Homemade desserts like sweet potato crème brûlée and persimmon tart reflect the restaurant's commitment to healthy, affordable, seasonal, and tasty food.