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Sen Yai Sen Lek lettuce wrap: 100 Favorite Dishes

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As a countdown to the Best of the Twin Cities 2010, coming this spring, The Hot Dish is serving up a hundred of our favorite local dishes. Send your own nominations to [email protected]

No. 58: Sen Yai Sen Lek lettuce wrap

Once you realize it's not rabbit food, you'll immediately transition into cooing at the tiny, meticulously arranged little piles of fillings for the fresh, green lettuce leaves. Sen Yai Sen Lek's lettuce wrap appetizer comes with an impressive seven fillings: toasted coconut, peanuts, little pieces of lime (rind included), hot red and green chilis, little dried shrimps, diced ginger, and red onion. Fold a pinch of each into a leaf, pour a little of the sweet, hot, fish sauce-based dressing over the top top, and munch happily away. Our server suggested we take it slowly for the full effect, to let the flavors express themselves. She was right. The vibrant, diverse flavors roll out like a good song, changing and building, then doubling back into a chorus. The chewiness of the lime rind, the smoky richness of the coconut, the ginger bite and peanut crunch, and the shrimp you could pop like candy equal sensory perfection.

Hungry for more? The dishes in our countdown thus far are linked below:

No. 100: Volcano Salad at Tiger Sushi No. 99: Eclair at Butter No. 98: Moussaka at Gardens of Salonica No. 97: "Flappers" at Colossal Cafe No. 96: Bento Box at Obento-Ya No. 95: Sausage, salami, onion, and green olive pizza at Black Sheep No. 94: Crab Cake at the Kitchen No. 93: Passion fruit cake at Pardon My French No. 92: Kafé 421 Signature Dips No. 91: Lutefisk at Landmarc Grill No. 90: May Day Cafe Croissant No. 89: Dowjic at Babani's No. 88: Osso Bucco at the Modern Cafe No. 87: Chef Shack Hot Dog No. 86: Adult Mac & Cheese at Good Day Cafe No. 85: Ropa Vieja at Victor's No. 84: French Toast of the Dead at Chino Latino No. 83: Uni at Origami No. 82: Bagel at Common Roots No. 81: Jasmine Deli's bánh mì No. 80: Pho 79's bò cuốn lá nho No. 79: Sweets Bakeshop's Kettlecorn Cupcake No. 78: D'Amico Kitchen's Chicory Salad No. 77: Be'wiched Deli pastrami sandwich No. 76: La Grassa's lima bean appetizer No. 75: Bulldog NE Tater Tots No. 74: Pop's Swedish Meatballs No. 73: Hot Plate's Caramel Apple French Toast No. 72: Grand Cafe's Ham and Cheese No. 71: Galactic Pizza's Thailander No. 70: Jackson's milk chocolate gelato No. 69: Patrick's Bakery and Cafe's tiramisu No. 68: Punch's Chopped Italian Salad No. 67: Red Stag's Smelt Fries No. 66: Mancini's Grilled Garllic Bread No. 65: Uptown Bulldog's Chicago Dog No. 64: Crema Cafe's Sorbet Spritzer No. 63: Matt's Bar Jucy Lucy No. 62: Baker's Wife Doughnut No. 61: Bar Abilene Guacamole No. 60: St. Paul Cheese Shop Cheesemonger No. 59: Fasika Vegi Sampler