Dong Yang vs. Hoban: Bulgogi blowout

Categories: Food Fight

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Amy Dahlin
Beef bulgogi at Hoban


To paraphrase noted poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of grilled meat." While Minnesota lifers know another snowstorm is not inconceivable, burgers, brats, and juicy steaks on the grill are just around the corner. If you haven't scraped your grill clean, dusted off your charcoal, and tied on your apron yet, then this week's Food Fight is here to help. The Korean barbecue dish known as bulgogi offers a taste of summer while the thaw continues.

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Tilia vs. Blackbird: Fish sandwich fisticuffs


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Tilia vs. Blackbird: Fish sandwich fisticuffs

Categories: Food Fight

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Jeremy Keith
Fish sandwich

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but would a fish sandwich, even if you insist on tarting it up and calling it a Fish Taco Torta or a Catfish Po' Boy? It's just fish, bread, and toppings, folks. No need for misleading Orwellian doublespeak. Whatever you want to call them, you don't need to use Lent as an excuse to try the fish sandwiches at Tilia and Blackbird Café.

See also - Cave Vin vs. Meritage: A French onion free-for-all

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Cave Vin vs. Meritage: A French onion free-for-all

Categories: Food Fight

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saebaryo
French onion soup

Café Levain's onion soup is number 34 on our 100 Favorite Dishes list. But is it the only place in town with strong soup game? We don't live in some competition-mad, Talladega Nights-style dystopia where "if you ain't first, you're last." (At least not when it comes to food, anyway.) But a search for the silver medal soup is not without peril. There are restaurants -- even French restaurants -- foisting inauthentic mugs of cheesy-salty brown brine on unsuspecting customers. Don't give those dishes a moment of your time. Instead, stay on the watch for those telltale signs of real French onion soup: nutty gruyere, rich broth, mellow onions, and a meaty crouton.

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Grand Ole Creamery vs. Lynden Soda Fountain: Ice cream clash


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Grand Ole Creamery vs. Lynden Soda Fountain: Ice cream clash

Categories: Food Fight

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Joyosity
Fresh strawberry ice cream

Here are some stats from last Friday's blizzard: 17 inches of snow; post-snow highs in the single digits; 60,000 people without power; more than 1,900 automobile spin outs and 680 crashes; 100 flights cancelled; 66 jack-knifed semis; black ice under bridges and on ramps; and yet another school day cancelled. What we're saying is this: If current trends continue, we're right in the middle of one of the five coldest winters in Minnesota history.

What we're also saying is this: who feels like some ice cream (or maybe some sherbet)?

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First Course vs. 112 Eatery: Gnocchi knockout

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First Course vs. 112 Eatery: Gnocchi knockout

Categories: Food Fight

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Potential Past
Making gnocchi

In Rome, Thursday is gnocchi day. And if you're serious about this delicious but labor-intensive dish -- which involves peeling, boiling, and ricing potatoes and mixing them at exactly the right moment with exactly the right amounts of flour and egg -- then trying it once a week is enough. Unfortunately, many restaurants in Italy (and everywhere else) ignore this sensible Praetor's edict. They cut corners with dehydrated potato flakes or semolina and, by doing so, they transform perfectly airy pasta pillows into deadly, mushy gut bombs. Fortunately, there are two Minnesota restaurants that make great gnocchi every day.

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Uncle Franky's vs. Valley Lounge: A coney dog confrontation

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Uncle Franky's vs. Valley Lounge: A coney dog confrontation

Categories: Food Fight

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Steven DePolo
Coney dog

Most of the time we visit restaurants that specialize in something we wouldn't normally prepare at home: tacos al pastor, Thai boat noodles, grilled sweetbreads, tres leches cake, and coney dogs. Real, make-your own sauce coney dogs respect and honor Michigan's great culinary contribution to the Western world. However, in the sausage-mad Twin Cities, where numerous restaurants chef up nearly infinite high- and low-brow hot dog permutations, there are only a handful of legitimate coney dog vendors. This week's Food Fight features two of the best.

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Foxy Falafel vs. World Street Kitchen: A falafel fracas

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Foxy Falafel vs. World Street Kitchen: A falafel fracas

Categories: Food Fight

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Photo courtesy of Foxy Falafel
Falafel with sprouts

Which do you prefer: boutiques, tiny cafes, and record stores that specialize in Northern Soul 45s or malls, Macy's, and other convenient all-in-one emporiums with groceries and tires and tube socks?

Your answer is not only the key to predicting our future economic landscape, it also relates to this Food Fight. Where you buy what you buy matters, whether it's yachts or brats. Or falafel. Especially falafel. A family favorite or a meat substitute to appease your vegetarian sweetie, falafel is a savory, crunchy, wonderful dietary staple that has been around forever.

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A Baker's Wife vs. Sarah Jane's Bakery: The chocolate croissant crucible

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A Baker's Wife vs. Sarah Jane's Bakery: The chocolate croissant crucible

Categories: Food Fight

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Brian Legate
Chocolate Croissant


For many people over the age of eleven, the holidays feel less like a cheerful sleigh ride and more like a grueling biathlon where disappointment lurks at every turn. It can be tough to believe in the restorative power of holiday cheer: The long lines and the punishing weather, the endless bundling and unbundling and the fastidious holiday decorating, and the inevitable arrival and overstaying of fruitcake and relatives take their toll.

To survive, everyone needs a stress-eating escape hatch -- the one sure thing to turn to when it all gets to be too much. Might we suggest a chocolate croissant? It's the perfect complement to a cup of hot chocolate or coffee, and a good one is sure to cure whatever ails you whenever this season of light feels a like glimpse into the abyss.

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Mac's vs. Cecil's: The Reuben rumble


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Mac's vs. Cecil's: The Reuben rumble

Categories: Food Fight

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Larry Hoffman
Reuben sandwich

How far can a little greatness take you? Does one great scene make a great film? Does one song make a great album? Does one great ingredient make a great dish?

This is the conundrum we face this week. Behold the Reuben, the most delightful hot sandwich around. Each bite is alternately sour and salty, creamy and crunchy, cheesy and saucy. A good Reuben is not just one thing done well; it's a little bit of everything done right. But pop quiz, hotshot: What happens when one part of this Reuben is so stellar that it elevates the dish beyond its competitor's solid performance in every other category? What do you do? What do you do?

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Hilda's vs. La Loma: Chilaquiles cook-off


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Hilda's vs. La Loma: Chilaquiles cook-off

Categories: Food Fight

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Tavallai
Chilaquiles

Not too long ago, Mexican food in the Twin Cities was inedible. Dig if you will the picture of those awful Purple Rain-era nachos: heaping mounds of stale tortilla-chip shards and detritus covered with mild Pace Picante sauce, fortified with browned hamburger and topped off with sour cream, grated orange cheddar cheese melted in the microwave, and slices of canned jalapeños lying among the muck.

No one knew any better back then; home cooks and bar kitchens churned out these piles of mediocre goo for years. But in our most lurid fantasies, we craved something better, something less packaged, something mas -- but not mass-produced. Fortunately, time and immigration and growth have brought restaurants serving authentic chilaquiles -- a melange of tortilla chips, salsa verde, eggs, meat, crema, and queso fresco -- to Minnesota. What took them so long?

See also: Quang vs. Jasmine Deli: Pho Fight

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