Gangchen Bar & Restaurant

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At 8:45 on a Friday night, the more popular Eat Street restaurants are still abuzz, but the dining room at 1833 Nicollet Ave. S. is empty. The former Soul City Supper Club has been reborn as the Gangchen Bar & Restaurant, with a logo that includes a martini glass tipped at a rakish angle. A string of festive colorful plastic pennants celebrating the Grand Opening are strung outside the door like prayer flags. There are a few staffers and friends huddled in the bar, watching Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt, on the big flat screen TV.

Gangchen Bar & Restaurant, 1833 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-872-8663.

The restaurant’s name sounds vaguely Asian, hard to place, but it means Snow Mountain in Tibetan (or so our waiter tells us). There is also a monastery in Tibet called Gangchen, and a Gangchen lama, now living in exile in Italy. The walls are painted the color of monks robes, and covered with Tibetan art and photos of the Himalayas. The owners, we learn, are Tibetan; one of them previously owned Tibet’s Corner, which closed last year in Uptown.

The menu is an eclectic Mix of everything Asian: Chinese egg rolls, Thai and Vietnamese spring rolls, Japanese teriyaki chicken, pad Thai, Singapore noodles, and even Minnesota-style celery chow mein. We sample a few of these: an appetizer of deep-fried shrimp isn’t really tempura-battered, but more in the style of classic Chinese take-out, complete with sweet red dipping sauce. The shrimp with green “Thai style curry” ($9.99) isn’t very Thai, but it’s very spicy and quite tasty. So is the hot and spicy squid, stir-fried with onions, ($12.99), which seems vaguely Vietnamese.

There are two Tibetan dishes on the menu. On an earlier visit, I tried the thenthu, a hearty and very tasty meal-sized soup with hand-made noodles, cabbage, carrots, and your choice of beef or chicken ($8.99). I would gladly go back and try the momo, steamed dumplings stuffed with seasoned chopped beef ($9.99).

Service is friendly and attentive, prices are reasonable, and there is a full bar with a small but decent selection wines by the glass.

Next door at 1831 Nicollet, the former home of Big E’s Soul Food, and then, briefly, the Lucky Star Chinese Restaurant, a new sign above the door says Provencial, Inc., specializing French cuisine and soul food. A hand-written note attached to the door says it will open soon.

8 thoughts on “Gangchen Bar & Restaurant

  1. Wow If I open a restaurent I would have indian, Nepali, and tibetan dishes, instate of chinese, vietnamise all that crab. Oh well I probably go try the thentuk for sure..

  2. yeah but the seabass, vietnamese style, absolutey rocks at this restaurant (and most Asian style eateries) – in fact you cannot beat the seafood in general at these type of places. Try the scallops as well!

  3. The name of the Dalai Lama’s brother in exile is the Panchen Lama. I haven’t been to the restaurant yet but will go soon. In general, Tibetens are a way cool and friendly people. Maybe it is the Buddhism…

  4. I dj at Gangchen Fri-Sun and I enjoy the food so much that I hold off from eating dinner just to eat there. Now my 2nd home. We have djs nightly
    Music:

    Hip-Hop, classic/current R&B, House (Various including Chicago Warehouse), Jazz, Latin, Reggae (Monday’s), Indie Pop, Euro Lounge

    Come out one night, I know once you do it will not be long before we know your name…

  5. A wonderful resturant, Great happy hour and very nice bartender-waiters. My experience with appetizers, Thai and Tibetan has been excellent with fresh ingredients and tasty flavors.

  6. Forgot to mention having Nightly Unique DJs like myself Dj Angel, variety of interesting music from Hip-Hop UG to Dubstep, Reggae, Euro Lounge, Jazz, House.

  7. Its Tibetan, not Tibetian. Secondly, Panchen Lama is not Dalai Lama’s brother. He is second ranked Lama in Tibet. Dalai Lama is in exile, not Panchen Lama. You are true. Tibetan people are way too cool and friendly people and this is because of Buddhism, I believe too.

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