Mystery Lunch #10: A lunch in the grocery store.
Since we started doing Mystery Lunches, people have been giving us recommendations on where we should go. No place has been more recommended to me than United Noodles. I mean, sure, it’s only been recommended 3 times, but that’s still more than anywhere else.
The Unideli is a lunch counter in an Asian grocery store in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. It’s very heavy on Pho-like soup bowls, and similar easy-to-serve offerings. The menu is great, because it’s on a beautiful set of screens above the order counter, and the photos of the food are large and colorful, so you can get a better idea of what you’re ordering if you’re unfamiliar with the menu. Not all items had photos, however, which bothered me, because it’s a fantastic addition to a menu when there’s bright photography, so why do just half the job? But I digress. So we picked out a couple good looking bowls for ourselves, and then I noticed something called “tea eggs” for a couple bucks, and ordered those too. And then the guy told us that the chicken wing flavor of the day was Mango Thai Chili, and who the hell is going to say no to that, so we ordered those as well! Then they give you a number (we were number 1!), and you go sit at a table and wait.
The tea eggs came out immediately, and were hard boiled eggs cooked in tea. That sounds weird, and they look weird, but they were utterly delicious. I had one problem, however, and this problem bothered me for the entire visit. Soy sauce and rooster sauce are provided on the table, but salt was no where to be found. Soy sauce is salty, but it is not salt. It tastes like soy sauce. I just wanted salt. Perhaps I’m becoming too demanding. So I used the soy sauce.
The eggs were delicious.
Then the bowls arrived. They were beautiful, and smelled like very intense liquid happiness. I had gotten a beef noodle soup, and Efrain was more adventurous and went with a Kimchi Ramen bowl. These were packed with super fresh and abundant ingredients, with hyper-dramatic flavor bombs in every bite. The greens and shoots were super fresh and crunchy, and the flavors in the broth were deep and rich. You’d be hard pressed to do much better than this for ramen bowls.
And then the wings came.
We didn’t come here to eat wings. And they don’t market themselves as a place to eat wings. It’s supposed to be about the Asian lunch bowls, which were terrific. But the wings stole the limelight. The Mango Thai Chili sauce was absolutely amazing, and completely unique. I’ve never heard of this flavor combo before, and I’ll now never stop seeking it out. Little bits of cilantro provided a nice touch of green, both in color and flavor, and the wings themselves were crunchy in a way that most places fail at. Like a deep-fried battered apple kind of crunchy. These things were perfect. I will have dreams for the rest of my life about those wings. Just so you know.
And then, I noticed the bathroom area of the grocery store, and how it had these pretty little Hello Kitty curtains adorning the entryway. And I thought that maybe meant that the bathrooms would be cutesy and fun as well…
They are not. I will not even show you a photo. You might be better off walking a couple blocks to The Cabooze and pissing in their trough. Or just going outside. You’ve been warned.
And the lunch counter didn’t have dessert, but we’re in a grocery store, right? They must have something sweet somewhere! And Efrain had a plan, plus I wanted to shop a little bit, so we went a-wandering through the aisles, me searching for strange ingredients for my upcoming dinner experiments, and Efrain looking for some dessert treat that he tried while traveling somewhere.
And after much searching, he approaches me holding a box of ice-cream treats that are the strangest and most fun things I’ve ever eaten. They are called Mochi Ice Cream Bon Bons, and they rule. It’s little balls of ice cream in a pistachio flour chewy pouch that is weird and sweet and powdered and delicious and fun to eat. It feels strange in your mouth, but super yummy and chewy at the same time. You have to go find some of these. I was a little unsure about the flavor being called “Red Bean”, but it was delicious. Seriously. Go find these. They’re so yummy.
And that concluded the adventure for the day, because we ate dessert in the car, like a couple of professionals. See you next week!