Eating at St. Paul's Sole Cafe is like having dinner in the home of the long-lost Korean auntie you never knew you had. In the corner, a television flashes with Korean soap operas, while authoritative and chatty Korean women bustle around your table, plying you with bowls of homemade banchan and curiously inquiring about your marital status. If Korean food is Greek to you, no worries--chef and owner Kimberly Firnstahl will earnestly explain what's what on the menu. Whatever you order, be sure not to miss the gal bee, marinated and broiled beef short ribs that burst with juicy, meaty flavor in every bite.
The ribs, also known as galbi or kalbi, are marinated in Kimberly's "chef's special sauce," a salty-sweet mixture that penetrates the meat and caramelizes under the heat. They arrive glistening on a bed of sliced raw onions that are a culinary treat of their own--crunchy, sharp, and richly flavored with the meaty drippings. The succulent meat is tender and chewy, yet solidly primal. Topping the dish is a scattering of sliced green onions that crunch with a zing of freshness.
Order a platter to share, as portions are served family-style. Chopsticks are civilized, but you'll probably want to pick up the bones with your hands to really work off the last bits of silky meat clinging to them. When you're done, you may be covered in meat juices and grease, but so what? Ain't no shame in asking for another napkin or three. SOLE CAFE 684 Snelling Ave. N., St Paul 651.644.2068; website Hungry for more? The dishes in our countdown thus far are linked below:
No. 90: Porter & Frye's El Pelon No. 91: Coffee News' fish and chips No. 92: Bread & Chocolate's Fabulous Fudge Bar No. 93: People's Organic Panna Cotta No. 94: Sea Salt Eatery Crawdad Po' Boy No. 95: Fuji Ya's Tofu Don No. 96: Ike's Food and Cocktails The Weekender Bloody Mary No. 97: Punch's Toto pizza No. 98: Stockholm Pie Company's peanut butter fudge cream pie No. 99: Dogwood Coffee Co.'s macchiato No. 100: Al's Breakfast buttermilk pancakes