restaurant: bona vietnamese

I was long overdue for a pho trip. Close to withdrawals actually.

So when I spent a weekend on campus for yoga sculpt training, there just happened to be a Vietnamese restaurant right down the street that I had heard had delicious pho. Fate, right?

So the Taster and I headed to a local watering hole for a pre-dinner drink (no wine or cocktails at Bona) and then it was time to get serious. We both ordered the usual – pho with beef for me; pork noodle salad + shrimp for the Taster – for comparisons sake of course. We take this quest very seriously, you know.

Bona was pretty empty, but it was pretty early on a Saturday evening and we were probably there right when those crazy college kids are just waking up from afternoon naps. ;) I will tell you that being back on campus (U of M graduate!) for a weekend was wonderful. I love it there.

My pho was delicious. Thankfully our server steered me away from getting pho and sauteed veggies and suggested that I just add the vegetables to my pho. You can add veggies to pho?! Yes please!  The large pho which was $7.50 + veggies ($1.50). I only ate about 1/3-1/2 of it, the bowl was that HUGE! I’ll definitely get a small next time and be sure to add veggies from now on.

The Tasters salad was pretty blah and the shrimp that he had added for $1.50 were 2 mini ones. I think he would probably order something else next time – and with a menu of 5 pages, he’ll have no problem finding something.

Bona Vietnamese Restaurant

815 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
(612) 331-5011

cincinnati chili

I’ve never had Cincinnati Chili before and it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve even been tempted to try.

But when Bon Appétit featured a story about different regional chili recipes, it wasn’t the Squash and Black Bean California-inspired Chili that caught my eye, it was the thinner Cincy Chili, customarily served over spaghetti that had me add chili to next weeks menu. Proud? Not exactly. But totally honest.

It was delicious. And although you may scoff at the idea of adding cocoa and cinnamon (like the Taster), I promise it doesn’t taste sweet. :) I wasn’t initially crazy about serving it over spaghetti, but with all of the appropriate toppings it was an amazingly filling meal. Best served with a salad.

Cincinnati Chili - 4 hearty servings - inspired by Bon Appétit

  • 2 white onions, chopped (reserve 1/2 – 1 cup for topping)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef (I used 90% lean)
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 4 servings spaghetti (I used a quinoa/corn pasta)
  • shredded cheese for topping
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Chop onions and garlic. Don’t forget to reserve some onions for topping the chili.

Heat olive oil in large pot…… add onions; saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic; stir for about 1 minute.

Add ground beef; cook until brown, breaking into pieces, about 10 minutes.

Add all spices, apple cider vinegar and tomato paste. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about an hour.

Serving Options:

In Cincinnati, there are 5 different options for serving.

  1. Plain
  2. Two Way: Chili and Spaghetti
  3. Three Way: Chili, Spaghetti and Cheddar Cheese
  4. Four Way: Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar Cheese and Onions
  5. Five Way: Chili, Spaghetti, Cheddar Cheese, Onions and Kidney Beans

But in my house, the Five Way is the only way to go. I just can’t imagine it any other way.

The real question is fork or spoon? We went with forks but any Cincy people know what it is served with? Or does it depend on how you order it?

restaurant: Quang’s

Quang’s was the natural next choice for the Best Pho Quest - it’s been recommended many times and the awards throughout the years fill the entry way of the restaurant. Like many good ethnic restaurants, it’s located on Eat Street and so far, the Pho I’ve found on Eat Street has proven itself.

It’s a good thing that Pho is quite inexpensive, because now that winter is officially here, warm, spicy soup sounds all the better and I’m hoping this means my visits are more frequent. In fact, the night we visited Quang’s, my parents were in town and we were also hit with the first official snow of the season. The pho is so warming, that not even the coldest of toes are left unwarmed.

Quang’s was pretty busy, especially considering the snowy day and when we arrived, almost all of the tables were filled – always a good sign.  The service was great, our waitress was adorable and when our spring rolls arrived, she told us it would be about 6 minutes until the meals arrived. Talk about quick service!

I often waffle between getting the meatballs and sliced beef or just sticking with the beef, and I think I’ll be skipping the meatballs from now on. No matter the restaurant, they always seem a bit off to me, Quang’s included. They had an odd sort of bounce to them, that was not really a desirable quality. The sliced beef was great and I think I’ll stick with that from now on.

Overall, the pho was great, but I really wasn’t wowed. The broth was a tad bland on it’s own, and wonderful once the lime juice and sriracha were added, but I know that I can’t call this the best out there. (This also means my search continues :) )

It should also be noted that they do not sell any alcohol, and I usually like a little wine with my meal. Tea was fine this time, but only because it was so cold! ;)

The taster is also  joining this Best Of Vietnamese quest, but sticking with the vermicelli salads. The grilled meat on this particular one was delicious and sweet and I must say that while I certainly prefer pho, I must say that I am also enjoying all of these salads.

Quang Restaurant

2719 Nicollet Ave. S.
Mpls., MN 55408
(612) 870-4739

Monday: 11am – 9pm
Tuesday: Closed
Wed-Fri: 11am – 9pm
Saturday: 10am – 9pm
Sunday: 10am – 8:30pm

miso soup

My favorite part of going out for sushi is the miso soup. Sure, I love Rainbow Rolls and my favorite Spicy Tuna Roll, but I really love starting my meal with miso soup. The warm, salty broth meets your lips with the cool, smooth porcelain spoon.  Slurp away, you don’t even need the sushi!

Miso Soup - 2 servings

  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp miso + more to taste
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 block tofu, diced into cubes
  • dried wakame

Soak wakame in hot water for at least 20 minutes. Drain water, cut into bite sized pieces and set aside. (Be sure to cut around the stem)

Heat broth and water in sauce pan. Add miso and whisk until miso is dissolved.

Add wakame, green onions and tofu to broth mixture and bring to a simmer.

Taste and add more miso if needed. (I added about 1 more Tbsp)