On a cool afternoon in June, gerg and I decided a big bowl of noodle soup would hit the spot. Tanpopo Noodle Shop had been on my radar, and with that, we headed there for lunch.
Tanpopo offers home-style Japanese cooking, and according to their website, "We use organic ingredients as much as possible, and, in keeping with Japanese food traditions, we feature seasonal dishes using locally grown produce from the St. Paul Farmer's Market."
Local, organic foods meet Japanese techniques? Heck yes!
Walking in, I was charmed by the spaciousness of the dining area. Small tables fit gracefully in the large room. I was also charmed by gerg, who looked dapper seated behind a gigantic peony arrangement.
That is not to say big parties aren't welcome at Tanpopo. They have a gorgeous table that seats up to 10:
This table looks like the perfect place to celebrate something or other. The flowers scattered throughout the restaurant were fresh cut peonies - so lovely this time of the year.
NOW. ONTO THE FOOD.
It was our lucky day! The daily specials included spicy shrimp sushi rolls and pork and nappa dumplings!
I love me some dumplings! These dumplings were beautifully made with well seasoned pork, and a bit of cabbage (they were far more pretty than this photo depicts). They were hand pressed, tender, and flavorful. They were served in a sauce chock full of lime juice and green onion, and they came plated with rice, miso soup, a salad, and a small dish of Tsukemono. It was a lot of food, especially for lunch, but it was tasty.
The Nabeyaki Udon Noodles were served in a served in ceramic ‘nabe’ bowl. A small dish of spices accompanies the soup, which you can add to taste.
The noodles float in traditional Japanese soup stock with shrimp tempura, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, fish cake (meh), Japanese omelet, green onion, and wakame. The chicken and the omelet were both quite tasty. I didn't have the opportunity to ask where they sourced their chicken and eggs, but the flavors of both were top notch. That's some darn fine poultry!
To the mushroom lovers out there, Tanpopo offers a Wild Mushroom Noodle soup with shiitake and enoki mushrooms, wakame and slices of Japanese omelet. You can even have the soup made with mushroom broth to maximize the mycological meal (I can tell you're excited).
To the vegetarians out there, Tanpopo offers vegetarian mushroom broth in place of the traditional Japanese broth. In fact, they also offer an entire vegetarian menu that is updated on a monthly basis (which means, YES, vegetarians can eat again and again at Tanpopo).
Gerg enjoyed green tea and I sipped a sweet Reed's ginger brew during our meal, but they do have Sapporo, Asahi Super Dry, Kirin, for those who enjoy thinning their blood a bit.
It was a lovely lunch on a not-so-lovely day.
Help yourself to a lovely meal.
Tanpopo Noodle Shop
308 Prince Street #140
St. Paul, MN 55101
[where: Local Food, St. Paul, Twin Cities, Minnesota]