MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When you take a neighborhood that’s been down and out and add some business owners like Eddie Wu, you have a recipe for a rebirth.

Cook Saint Paul is no doubt part of the East Side comeback of Payne Avenue. And other restaurants, like the Ward 6 gastropub and Tongue In Cheek, are drawing people from all around.

For this former Marine, Cook Saint Paul is a bet on his family’s future.

“There isn’t that big of a risk in opening a diner in a place where there was a diner for 60 years. It was a calculated risk,” Wu said.

However, doing just typical diner food wasn’t quite what Wu had in mind.

“My wife is a Korean adoptee. Minnesota is home of largest Korean adoptee population in the world, there are about 15,000 of them,” Wu said.

So, Cook Saint Paul has Korean pancakes — and they’re incredibly popular.

“What makes it a Korean pancake? Korean ingredients we serve it for breakfast. That’s it,” Wu said.

They’re not what you’d get in a Korean restaurant. It’s yellow beans from the top of a sprout, ground up with pork, chili peppers and turned into a batter.

He sells a Bibimbap, which is a rice bowl with meats, veggies and egg.

“Our rule is: put an egg on it, it can be breakfast,” Wu said.

Cook has its own Korean hot sauce: made with mangos, pineapple and chilies.

“Sweet up front, punches you at the back,” Wuy said. “You probably could shut down the restaurant and just sell that.”

Eddie is spreading his love for Korean food, even though he’s a relatively recent convert to the cuisine.

“Although my last name is Wu, I took my wife’s last name. I am a Wu not by birth, but by choice. My birth name is Hansen but I figured there were enough Eddie Hansen’s in the world,” he said.

Cook Saint Paul is a terrific restaurant, with a terrific owner helping change our palates and change his neighborhood.

“I still want to adjust that we’re talking, or that everyone wants to say thanks. I’m just doing my job,” Wu said.

Only open for breakfast and lunch, Wu hopes to be open for dinner someday soon. Right now, he is doing a Korean dinner on Wednesdays.

Jason DeRusha

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