Culinary Tour of Minnesota – Vietnam

A friend told me recently I need to focus my career goals on something that I am passionate about. I agree entirely. I want to live a life of purpose and meaning – where I wake up everyday excited to get to work. Only problem is…I don’t know what that passion is yet.

That’s not to say that I’m not passionate about things, because I am. I just don’t know which passion I should try to turn into a career. So in the spirit of making a choice rather than being scared into indecisiveness, I’m going to spend my upcoming months doing something that I love…eating.

That’s right folks, it’s time to do what I do best; shove food in my face. But not just any food. My goal over the next however-many months in the Twin Cities is to eat food from as many different cultures/countries as possible and tell you about it. I’ve noticed that Minneapolis/St. Paul has an above-average amount of international influence – especially in the culinary scene – and I want to try it all. I don’t have any formula or general gameplan to speak of as to how I’m going to attack this daunting task other than to eat. A lot. But if you know me…I think I can handle it.

So without further ado, here we go.

VIETNAM

Vietnam is first on the list simply because it was on my way home from work today. I stopped for a late lunch at Lotus to Go Go – the takeout spot so nice, they named it twice. Even at 2:15 p.m. the place was busy. Located in a small shopping lot on the corner of LaSalle Ave. and Grant St. in downtown Minneapolis/Loring Park – Lotus isn’t somewhere you’d drive by and think, “Oh honey, that place looks cute, let’s try that.” Quite on the contrary, it sits alongside a liquor store, a gas station and some oddball apparel shops. I don’t know what it is about Asian restaurants attached to gas stations but I’ve never been disappointed by one in my life. (If you ate at Shangrila Asian Bistro in East Cobb before it shut down, you know what I’m talking about.) There’s little to no parking to speak of and there’s a good chance you’ll have to ward off (or give in to) some beggars before you get inside. But once you do – you’ve made it.

Serving up authentic Vietnamese dishes like Com Ga, Bahn Mi and Pho alongside fan favorites like Pad Thai, Kung Pao Chicken, Lo Mein and the likes – Lotus offers a real Vietnamese cuisine as well as some flair on many traditionally Chinese dishes. I went for the Com Tam – grilled pork over rice with an egg (?), lettuce, cucumbers and pickled daikon & carrots.

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The pork was seasoned with something on the sweet side and it was delicious. I’m not even going to try to act like I know Food Networks phrases to talk it up – all I know is that it was awesome. Best part was the $9.99 price tag for a filling meal. If there’s one thing I know know, it’s that I’ll be back to Lotus to Go Go.

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