The oasis-in-Northeast ambiance! The "fried-to-perfection" Thai chicken and Chinese crullers and crispy tofu! The magic of pork floss!
But hey, you don't have to take our word for it. Take Eater's roving food critic Bill Addison's word for it. Because ol' Bill spends his year traveling the U.S. in search of the best new restaurants. And guess what?
He says Hai Hai's one of them.
"Chef Christina Nguyen opened Hola Arepa with her bartender husband Birk Grudem in 2014, doling out easy-to-love sandwich versions of Venezuela’s ubiquitous griddled corn cakes. Their second venture, though, is Nguyen’s breakthrough restaurant," Bill writes in his 18 Best New Restaurants in America roundup, which dropped Wednesday.
What makes the Minneapolis restaurant so great? Well, there's the "bombastically colorful" banana blossom salad, and Nguyen's rice noodle and pineapple-shrimp sauce riff on the grilled fish dish chả cá lã vọng, and the outstanding, playful cocktails. Addison shouts out Hai Hai's "uplifting" atmosphere overall, from the "beachy wallpaper prints" to the "confident, effervescent staff."
"But Nguyen’s stirringly personal food gives Hai Hai its depth of spirit," he concludes.
Find the full list of 2018 honorees -- which includes True Laurel in San Francisco, Kamonegi in Seattle, and Austin's Suerte -- here.
And for the love of all that is fried and crispy (and chewy, squishy, crunchy, and juicy -- this place really is a textural playground), if you haven't been to Hai Hai yet, get there as soon as you can.
2121 University Ave. NE, Minneapolis