Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine: A taste of the multicultural mecca in Minneapolis

This month, the United Foodies of Minnesota traveled to Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine on Eat Street in Minneapolis. For many of them, it was their first time trying Malaysian food and the menu at Peninsula is quite extensive because of the multicultural and multiethnic nature of the country—from Malay to Chinese, Indian, and Thai.“What should we get?”The waiter steered us away from the dishes that were drizzled with belacan, or a dark sauce made from fermented shrimp paste. Of course, our curiosities were piqued, so he brought out small sampling of jicama with the shrimp paste for us to try. The belacan certainly had the smell of fermented shrimp, and let’s just say that many of us decided that it was for someone with more of an acquired taste.We started off with the popular Malaysian favorite, roti canai, an Indian-influenced flatbread that is light and flaky. It was served with spicy curry chicken and potato dipping sauce that we wanted to pour over everything.Although I usually enjoy the nyonya laksa spicy coconut noodle soup at Peninsula, I decided to go with my other favorite, the Buddhist Yam Pot. Continue Reading

Safari Restaurant in Minneapolis: Somali cuisine from traditional to contemporary

Growing up back home in the Horn of Africa, Safari Restaurant & Event Center co-owner Abdirahman Ahmed thought that pasta was traditional Somali food. In a sense, it was. Given the large amount of trade and influence from Italy, India, the Middle East, Far East Asia, and many other regions within Somalia, the cuisine represents a cultural blending of sorts. As the United Foodies of Minnesota sat down for dinner at Safari, we not only enjoyed pasta in the form of Safari’s unique creation of homemade noodles, ke’key, but also delighted in the sambusas (the Somali version of samosas) and basbaas sauce, a green hot sauce made of lime, chile, and coriander. As a spice lover, I ended up adding a little basbaas sauce to pretty much everything.“There are three variables for what makes things tick when it comes to food,” Ahmed said. Continue Reading

Fasika: Ethiopian food worth celebrating in St. Paul

Earlier this month, when many people were welcoming spring by celebrating Cinco de Mayo, others in Minnesota were celebrating Fasika, or the Ethiopian Easter. For this month’s stop on the tour Around the World in the Twin Cities, we headed across the Atlantic to Africa by visiting the Ethiopian restaurant Fasika at 510 North Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.United Foodies of Minnesota group member Nick Maryns carved a passport stamp of the Ethiopian flag for the outing. The star in the center of the flag symbolizes diversity and unity. It was an appropriate sentiment for Stop #4 on the tour. Continue Reading

Samba: A taste of Brazil in Hopkins

“Sake?” questioned one of the passengers on our trek Around the World in the Twin Cities.“Yes, sake is very common in Brazil,” said Jose Luiz Pantano, owner of Samba Taste of Brazil in Hopkins, “You see, there are many Japanese in Brazil. Many influences in Brazil.”The variety of influences in Brazil was immediately apparent as the United Foodies of Minnesota sat for drinks and food on stop #3 of our tour. First, we were serenaded by Sergio Rosa, who entertains Samba diners on Friday and Saturday nights with a fusion of both bossa nova and Beatles music. Then we tried caipirinha de sake, or sake with crushed lime and sugar—a delightful blend of Japanese and Brazilian flavors.  The word “caipirinha” comes from “caipira,” or a person from the country. Continue Reading

Chimborazo in Northeast Minneapolis: You had me at llapingachos

Welcome to the second stop on our Around the World in the Twin Cities tour! From Mexico, we head down to Ecuador to try llapingachos, ceviche, and encocado at Chimborazo.Llapingachos (pronounced ya-ping-ga-chos), or potato pancakes stuffed with cheese, are one of the most famous Ecuadorian dishes and are representative of the highlands region, where Chimborazo owner/chef Marcos Pinguil was born. The llapingachos con chorizo are Pinguil’s personal favorite on the menu. These potato pancakes are served with rice, chorizo, fried egg, and peanut sauce, but you can also get llapingachos as an appetizer or side dish.  While many people associate potatoes with Irish fare, the first potatoes were actually cultivated by the Inca people in South America. Continue Reading

Disruptive innovation: Changing future for Minnesota students, educators

“My dream is to be a singer,” said one Susan B. Anthony Middle School student. Another student wrote that he wanted to be a doctor, while one girl told me she hoped to open her own business. As a volunteer exhibitor for Rêve Academy at the recent Minneapolis STEM Expo, I had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of middle school students who shared their dreams with us. What struck me most was that no matter the dream, each of these students would need to learn how to use certain technologies during the course of their careers. With the way the music industry has been changing, even the aspiring singer will probably need to have some knowledge of how to record a video of her singing to post on YouTube in the hopes of “going viral.”As innovative applications of technology increase, many industries, from entertainment to healthcare to retail, are experiencing what Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, terms “disruptive innovation,” or an innovation that creates a new market and eventually overtakes an existing market. One example of a disruptive innovation is the cell phone, which offered portability, but was initially expensive and of lesser sound quality than a traditional phone. Continue Reading

El Taco Riendo: A great go-to spot for tacos in Northeast Minneapolis

Since becoming a Minnesotan, I have discovered the winter blahs. They usually set in during the month of February. Fortunately, with the variety of restaurants offered here in Minnesota, a staycation to a warmer place is well within reach: sunny Mexico will be the first stop on our tour around the world. That’s right, this year I’ll be taking you on a journey across the globe by featuring an eating establishment representing a different cultural cuisine each month. So, United Foodies of Minnesota—get your passports out and have them ready to be stamped!First stop: El Taco Riendo On 24th & Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis sits my little slice of Mexico. Continue Reading

MN VOICES | Rosa Tock finds “sense that working together, we can achieve things” in Minnesota

For Rosa Tock, a first-generation immigrant from Guatemala, the sense of possibility is what impresses her most about Minnesota.  “In Minnesota, I have that sense of possibility that things can be done,” Tock said, “There is always the sense that working together, we can achieve things. That sense of possibility is one thing that really makes me feel at home.”Tock first came to Minnesota on a Fulbright Scholarship to finish her Master’s Degree in Public Policy at the University of Minnesota. As part of the program, Tock was required to go back to Guatemala for at least two years after graduating.However, her husband was still in Minnesota, so she eventually made her way back, drawn to the possibilities that the state offered. Tock started out as a human rights investigator with the City of Saint Paul, looking at incidents of potential discrimination. Continue Reading

Minnesota Karen community celebrates warm St. Paul welcome

“Minnesota may be cold, but the hearts are warm,” said Priscilla Aung, one of the first Karen refugees to arrive in Minnesota more than ten years ago. Now, approximately 6,500 Karen live in the state, making St. Paul home to the fastest growing Karen population in the United States.The Karen are an ethnic group from the mountainous border region of Burma and Thailand, where they are the second largest ethnic group in each country. The community has suffered a tragic history of being persecuted by the Burmese military junta for over 60 years. Several hundred refugees from other ethnic groups in Burma, including the Kachin, Mon, and Shan, have also made Minnesota their home. Continue Reading