Thursday, October 30, 2008


1989 Silver Bell Road
Eagan, MN 55122

Here's a little non-typical blog about a place that should be more well known than it is...

It is a firm belief of mine that everyone should experience Asian cuisine at least once in their life. I'm not talking Panda Express at the mall food court (although I do enjoy a little chicken and mushroom to fuel me for shopping...but why are they always trying to get me to 'try sample?' I'm going to buy the food, save yourself the trouble). There are tons of places to visit in the Twin Cities, many of which are delicious and pretty true to their origins, but there's one in particular more people need to know about - HOBAN! Given, this is a Korean person's opinion (adopted, but kimchee still runs in my veins from the womb days), but I think you should trust me on this one. I can say with 99% certainty that you'll enjoy what Hoban has to offer.

Located in Eagan, Hoban has made it's home in a small strip for over 15 years. Surrounded by a McDonald's, Domino's delivery, and a gas station, the area seems unusual for a restaurant of this nature. However, just this summer they closed down (I almost had a heart attack) for renovation and expansion sake. It was closed for 3 months (longest 3 month of my life!). The dining area almost tripled in size, they got new booths, and metal chopsticks that Mr. Bottenfield will never agree with. I guess the strip mall is treating the Hoban well. To me this means the place is worth a visit, even if it is a little out of the way.

I've ate there countless times, so I'm going to give you the lowdown on may want to grab a pen.

Hoban is located at the end of a strip. Just drive on down through the lot, there's tons of parking, and if you have the correct address you can't miss it... time is calling. I'll finish you later.

Here are the basics of Hoban:
a. There is plenty of seating so a reservation is not really necessary. I think I've waited once at Hoban, but that was before the renovation and there was less seating. Come to think of it I've never tried to make a reservation. If you can stand the possibility of waiting 10 minutes you'll never have to worry about going to Hoban on a whim.

b. You get water (just like at every other restaurant) but I recommend trying some ginseng tea (Mr. Bottenfield always gets this) or if you're adventurous and of age try the soju. I would desribe soju as the Budweiser of Korea. Not because it's piss water, but because everyone in Korea drinks it.
What I learned about - SOJU

Soju is a distilled alcoholic beverage native to Korea. While it is tradionally made from rice, most major brands supplement or ever replace the rice with other starches such as potato, wheat, barley, sweet potato, or tapioca. Soju is clear and varies in alcohol content from 20% to 45%...this isn't moonshine people.

The taste of Soju is comparable to vodka, only not as strong (less alcohol content) and slightly sweeter because of the sugars added during the manufacturing process.

Soju is traditionally drunk in group gatherings (I consider 2 people to be enough of a group) and poured into individual shot glasses. Korean custom frowns upon filling your own glass. Allowing someone else to do it promotes the idea of thoughtfulness and friendship.

Mr. Bottenfield and I will take credit for getting Soju put on the new menu at Hoban. They served it before, but didn't have it listed so you had to make a special request. WOW! and just now reading their website I see they have added a large selection of Soju to choose from. I'd stick with the Chamisul, this is the most popular brand in South Korea.

c. 'So You've Decided to Try Banchan'. Banchan is a Korean meal tradition served at the beginning that involves a variety of small side dishes. They can be eaten alone or be mixed with the meal. Hoban always serves this to it's customers. It typically consists of Kimchee, potatoes, kongnamul (bean sprout salad), and other pickled vegetables.

d. Appitizers at Hoban are great. I would highly recommend trying a couple, or at least the Man Doo. Man Doo is a small fried dumpling filled with beef and vegetables. You can't really go wrong here. I also recommend the Bin Dae Tuk which is a Korean-style soybean pancake cooked with green onions and carrots.

A little side note: Since expanding their restaurant Hoban has added numerous new food items to their menu. My suggestion is don't be shy when you order. Also, sharing is always acceptable. Bring a group, order a variety and try a little bit of everything.

e. Here are my top 5 picks for entrees, then you're on your own.

1. Bulgogi (seen left): thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, green onions and pepper. Flamed grilled with onions and served with rice.

2. Dolsot Bibimbob: Sizzling rice (served in a hot stone bowl) topped with carrots, spinach, raddish, mushrooms, bean sprouts, carrots, kimchee, sliced beef and a fried egg. Comes with a special hot sauce. Try mixing everything together, add a little sauce, and let it continue to cook in the hot bowl.

3. Kimbap: I'll note that this might be a little more on the adventurous side. For those of you who enjoy sushi you should try this one. It's served warm (no raw fish), but it has that sushi like appeal with the seaweed. Kimbap is a tradional Korean rice and seaweed roll filled with beef, egg, carrot, and yellow radish. Comes with a house dipping sauce, awesome!

4. Kimchee Bokum: Again, this is for the more adventurous, but if you like Kimchee you will absolutely love this dish. Pork, Kimchee, rice patties, onions, green onions, and a side of fresh (cold) tofu. I'm pretty sure they created this dish just for me.

5. Chap Chae: Clear vermicelli noodles, sliced pork, and sauteed vegetables. Don't get this dish expecting a lomein-type thing from a fast food joint. Clear (rice) vermicelli noodles are much different from typical stir-fry noodles. You should probably just try it.

So, what else can I say. Hoban is good food. The selection is great and true to it's origin. Go there and tell them I sent you. Just kidding.


Photos courtesy of

Hoban on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 27, 2008

Broders' Pasta Bar

Broders' Pasta Bar
5000 Penn Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55419-1035

I don't think it would be a stretch to say that Broders' is one of the top, if not the best Italian restaurant in the Twin Cities. It is my personal favorite. So maybe this review will be filled with bias, but if it convinces people to visit, I don't think they will be angry with me.

The family owned Broders' Pasta Bar is located on the corner of 50th and Penn only a few blocks away from Lake Harriet. The restaurant has a small parking lot out front. Don't count on pakring there, but no worries, there is plently of non-metered street parking. A little walking never hurt anyone. Their deli (Broders' Cucina Italiana) is right across the street on the other side of 50th and offers a great variety of fresh pasta, bread, desserts, and other deli items. The bread and pasta are made fresh at the deli and used at the restaurant.

A little side note: Can I go on a little rant here? Fresh pasta vs. dried pasta. Maybe I shouldn't even make a comparison because the two are totally different. And yes, my cupboards are stocked with dried pasta. It will do and it stores for a long time, but if I was not so lazy I would make/drive to Broders' to get fresh pasta and never use the dry stuff. If you've had both look me in the eye and tell me there's no difference. YOU CAN'T DO IT! Damnit. I'm hungry.

The seating area is small, but warm and inviting. And not like the warm and inviting your realtor talks about (this is code for small as shit!). The average table fits about 2-4 although they allow for bigger parties. There is a bar in the middle and an open kitchen so you can see all the chefs making your food (I like these kinds of things). They have daily specials and a menu that changes for seasonal and new items.

Fresh Bread $FREE
Focaccia, Fulton Flatbread, and Pane Villaggio bread fresh and warm. If you haven't noticed I like bread. Served with olive oil and pepper for dipping. I also recommend asking for a little balsamic vinegar to add to the oil (thanks Chris!). Good stuff.

Caesar Salad $5.95 (side portion)
Crispy lettuce, fresh parmesan, great dressing. For those who do not enjoy salad (Mr. Bottenfield) try this one anyways. Anchovies are $1.00 extra, but worth it!

Rigatoni alla Meridoionale $15.95
Fresh rigatoni pasta (the big tube ones) served al dente with beef tenderloin tips, sundried tomatoes and asparagus. Perfect portion size. Hearty sauce (not runny <--that's a gross word to use when describing food, sorry.), tender beef, and asparagus. The presentation is beautiful, lots of color with the sundried tomatoes, beef, and green asparagus. The beef terderloin melts in your mouth. It's almost like a stew where all the flavors have been cooking together for hours and everything is tender and wonderful.

Linguine Con Trota y Tartufi $13.50
Fresh tomato and egg linguine with Star Prairie Trout, crimini mushrooms and truffle cream. What about this doesn't sound good?? Local trout that I had to do a little more research on since it was so good...

What I learned About - Star Prairie Trout
Star Prairie Trout comes from a farm ( in Star Prairie, Wisconsin (Okay, the word 'prairie' never looked right to me and now it really doesn't). Established in 1856, Star Prairie uses 100% pure natural flowing (versus pumped) spring water for it's fish farm. The farm also include a Class A hatchery.

Everything about this dish was wonderful. The sauce is what got me the most. The pasta wasn't drowning in sauce and because of the freshness of the pasta and the consistency of the sauce it stayed on every piece in the dish. Not too watery, not too heavy. The truffle gave the sauce depth and just the right amount richness. Each small piece of fish was like a mini filet. It held together well, but was flakey and never chewy. Michael Rostance, you're my new hero!

Tiramisu $4.75
Yeah, it's good. I would eat anything on their dessert menu. All made fresh at the deli. You can also get any of the desserts at the deli to bring home.

# of People: 2
Reservations: No. They take call aheads (you can call and get your name on the waiting list up to an hour before you arrive) but no reservations. When you are put on the list this does not mean you will be seated right away when you get there!!! It's a good idea to call ahead, but be prepared to wait a few minutes especially if you go on a weekend.
Day/Time of Visit: Friday, October 10th 6:00pm
Will I be back: Um, I don't think you have to ask. If and when you visit you'll probably see me there.
YAYs!: Fresh and authentic, family owned (love that), knowledgeable and friendly staff, great ambiance, everything on the menu is amazing, good wine selection.
Nays: Does not take reservations (which I could care less about).
Notes: Go to the deli and make some Broders' at home! Also, Sun-Thurs go for the "After Eight" deal. Check out the details on the website.


Broders' Pasta Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Qualifications Do I Have?

Let me start off by stating that I've been eating all my life so in that respect I'm a seasoned vet when it comes to food. However, I realized that there is no real reason for anyone to read my blog, much less get anything useful from it. Unless...

There are a lot of food critics and rating/review sites out there. So how do you decide to what to believe? Sorry, I don't have a good answer for that. Maybe it's because I feel that official food critics aren't really like me and thus have no idea how I would feel about anything, especially when it comes to something serious like food. And maybe it's because I read 'reviews' written by 'regular people' that are riddled with spelling errors and contains such little information that it's no help or use to me personally. Reviews can't be driven by rage people! When you tell me some place sucks that doesn't help me much. Be more constructive with your feedback (<--if you got this reference we can be friends). Eating should be about enjoyment and experience, and having that sort of good attitude when you go out to eat is a good idea (this is a whole other blog). Anyways, I'm getting off the subject here... Okay, back to the reason you should read this blog- My unofficial qualifications include:

1. the ablility to eat (a lot!)
I love eating, I do it everyday. I can eat 5x my body weight. However, I do work a full-time job and I do have bills. I don't always have the time to go out and I don't always have the means. Sometimes I eat at an expensive restaurant, sometimes I cook an elaborate something or other, sometimes you'll see me at the drive thru. People have to eat! I like to try it all, and if your restaurant isn't spelled with an 'e' at the end, don't worry, I'll still try you.
Also, I care little to nothing about my weight (that was supposed to be a joke).

2. adventurosity
That's right, adventurosity. I gots it! Food does not scare me. I won't eat everything, but I'm pretty darn close. And at the very least I'll try it and pretend to like it...then come home and blog about the gross stuff you made me eat. We have this problem of food critics being on one side and us normies on the other. The fact of the matter is good food can be found anywhere and thus I must find it!

3. i can, will and love to cook!
People that have an excessively weird obsession with food, like me, do everything with it (ew, not like that). What I mean is they encompass it into as many parts of their life as possible because it brings them joy. For me, eating and cooking go hand in hand. Like I mentioned before my wallet doesn't alway allow me to sit back while others do the work for me. Cooking is the fun and cheaper alternative.
If you don't cook now, I encourage you to try it. I'll post lots more about this later, but BOTTOM LINE is: I cook a lot at home, I know a little about what goes into things, and my spice rack contains more than just pepper, table salt, and Lowery's seasoning salt.

I'm sure there are more fake qualifications I can add...I'll think of some more later.


Amore Victoria

1601 West Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408

M-F 11:30am to Midnight
Sat & Sun 9:30am to Midnight (brunch 9:30am to 3:30pm)

Italian food? I love it! It is definitely in my top 3 as far as cuisines go. So any excuse to eat "delicious Itailian fare" complemented by a "pleasant and inviting atmosphere" (says the website) well of course I'm there. Mr. Bottenfield actually picked this one out. We had been looking for a new place to eat and landed here.

Most Minneapolites (Minnenanapolians?) will probably remember Victoria as being the ex-site of Giorgio's on the corner of Lake and Irving. However, the two look nothing alike on the inside. I was impressed by the decor, very cozy. Dim candle lit, dark woodwork, tiled floors, exposed (although me thinks faux) brick walls, tables and booths, a bar and a piano. So far so good. One thing to note however is the parking lot. Although free, it is not large enough to support all of the patrons and employees. You may have to park on the street (we did), but that's no biggy right? Also, there is no standing room when you walk in, which isn't a problem if you get seated right away and it's not a Minnesota tundra outside. We had reservations so it wasn't a problem.

Our host and our server were both pleasant. Our server was quick to get us our bottle of wine and make sure that we approved. She checked in just enough (wasn't overly nosey) and so gets my stamp of approval, aka more than a 20% tip.

A little side note: I won't profess to being an Itailian food pro, but I have visited Italy (Aviano, Venice) and the food there is everything they say it is.

Blah, Blah...on to the important stuff-

Fresh Bread $FREE
Everyone is brought a fresh basket of bread served with olive oil and fresh grated parmesan for dipping. The bread is awesome!

Bruschetta al Pomodoro $7.95 for 5 pieces and greens drizzled with olive oil
Really great. The bread was cooked just perfect. I've often had bruschetta that is too tough. It's hard to eat and does a number on the roof of your mouth. Needless to say this takes away from any sort of deliciousness it might have been able to provide you. But I digress...Victoria did a spot on job. Marinated diced tomatos and fresh parmesan cheese topped it off.

Mushroom Passion $13.95
Porcini, portabella, shiitake, and button mushrooms tossed in a balsamic cream sauce served with angel hair pasta. That's a lot of fugus! A lot of everything in fact. The portions were giant, not that I'm complaining, so you definitely get your money's worth in that area. Overall it was good. I just got a taste, but I did like it and Mr. Bottenfield liked it and that's what matters, right? The sauce, althought it was a cream sauce, was not too heavy and didn't get thicker as it cooled as some alfredo-e/creams sauces tend to get. It was a little tangy (from the balsamic) which also kept the dish from being too heavy. I guess my only 'turn-off' was the presentation. It was a lot of pasta with a lot of mushrooms on top.

Pasta in White Clam Sauce $10.95
Sauteed chopped clams and fresh garlic in olive oil, clam juice, white wine and a touch of lemon and herbs. I guess I don't have much to say about this dish. It was partly my fault for not being adventurous because Victoria has a lot to offer (I should have gone with the Fettuccine Della Nonna...Damnit). Everything was cooked fine, but I did not particularly enjoy the large chunks of garlic or the fennel in the dish. I got the touch of lemon, but there was more than a touch of herbs and it was a little overpowering for my taste. Overall I enjoyed it though. I had the leftovers for lunch.

Bottle o' Wine (Casillero Del Diablo - Carmenere) $26.00
And yes, I realize with the food choices a carmenere may have not been the best accompaniment, but what can I say-I don't follow every food rule and I'm a sucker for reds.

# of People: 2
Reservation: Yes (probably didn't need them).
Day/Time of Visit: Thursday, Oct. 23rd @ 6:00pm.
Will I be back: Yes, and I will be trying something more exciting. Fettuccine Della Nonna, you
will be mine!
YAYs!: Awesome bread, friendly staff, nice ambiance, large selection o'food (spaghetti and meatballs to sea bass to gorgonzola stuffed veal), good date place, great wine selection, not overly spendy.
Nays: Not much to nay about.
Notes: 1/2 of select wine bottles every Sunday through Tuesday (I'm hitting that up!)
Happy Hour Sun-Fri 2:30pm-7:00pm including beer, wines, rails, cocktails, and apps!


Amore Victoria on Urbanspoon

Hello! I'm a Newbie so be Gentle

Well here it is folks, my first official blog. I've never really been a blog person so we will see where this goes.

For those of you who want to know:

I started this blog thing (A) because I was bored at work and (B) I realized there needed to be some sort of outlet for my food obession (Oh, and I guess (C) because Mr. Bottenfield thought it would be a good idea and I generally listen to most things he says). I figured my other option was to talk at people about food when in fact they could give a crap and let all of my good knowledge (or at least what I consider to be good) go to waste. Instead I've found you, someone also interested in food-woot.

So here I am. Let me know what you think. In the future, once I'm a seasoned blogger you don't have to be kind, my feelings aren't hurt easily.