In a time of turnover and transition, the Uptown dining scene seems to be on the cusp of a new era.
Sure, Il Gatto closed its doors for good but it seems the consensus is, there’s an anticipation in the air for what might be around the corner.
A few new joints popping up have certainly added to that buzz.
While it’s been a little while since they opened, I was eager to finally make my way to Kinsen Noodles & Bar. Parked off Lagoon Avenue in Uptown, this noodle shop seems like a perfect placement for this trendy neighborhood.
The restaurant is quite modern with an Asian-inspired decor and sleek lines. Clean white tables line the front of the house with cozy, low-lit booths in the back. All the seating inside Kinsen wraps around an open kitchen, where chefs can be seen preparing fresh, all-natural local Asian fare.
We stopped in for Happy Hour, which on Tuesdays is conveniently all day. The Happy Hour menu features bottle beer, tapped beer, rail drinks or appetizers — your choice for three bucks each.
As a special bonus to their new neighbors, anyone who lives in Uptown — and can prove it with their driver’s license — gets 10 percent off their bill.
I started off with an item that stuck out among the list of appetizers — quail egg wontons. These deep-fried wontons are filled with chili-injected quail eggs and served on top of a spicy tamarind glaze and topped with a carrot and red cabbage garnish.
The wonton had your classic crunch but the quail egg inside provided a creamy, silky texture packed with flavor. The tamarind glaze had a perfect balance of spicy and sweet, elevating the chili infusion inside the egg. It was a true treat.
Tuesdays also mean $10 ramen night, so, of course, I couldn’t resist trying a bowl of warmth. The Tonkotsu ramen made with your traditional pork bone stock was served with pork belly roulade and finished with the typical ramen accompaniments. The broth was subtle and didn’t pack a ton of flavor but was a nice bowl of authentic ramen.
The Miso Sopporo, on the other hand, had a delightful broth, truly tasty and comforting. The ramen included tiny, bite-sized Togarashi crusted bay scallops, which helped keep the meal light and airy.
It was a pleasant surprise for a first experience — and one that will certainly lead into a return visit.
Kinsen Noodles & Bar is located at 1300 Lagoon Ave. in Minneapolis. Check the website for hours, specials and a complete menu.