Lots of people go to press previews of restaurant openings just for the free booze and food. But I also go to see old friends, and catch up on old restaurant news. Like at the preview party for the Left Handed Cook, which opens May 21 at the Midtown Global Market. Owners Thomas Kim and Kat Melgaard offered a great sampling of the foods they will be featuring at their stand, in the space that formerly housed La Sirena Gorda.
Kat’s from a North Dakota farm, while Thomas is a sushi chef from LA, so the menu is a hybrid of Midwestern comfort food with LA hipness and an Asian twist—stuff like a seared steak with a Korean sauce of garlic, sesame oil and chili paste; or 21 spice fried chicken, or 48 hour braised short rib. The bowl entrees, topped with chicken, pork belly, short rib, veggies or a fish of the day, are variations of the theme of be bim bop, the traditional Korean garnished rice dish.
Once the operation is up and running, Thomas plans to start offering omakase dining. It’s a term I have only heard at sushi restaurants: it means “chef’s choice,” and it means that you just leave it all up to the chef, who will direct a series of small dishes to your table—whatever his inspiration of the moment may be. I’ll be eager to go back and try this.
I ran into old foodie friends Pat Lindquist and Carla Waldemar, who tipped me off to some upcoming openings. I don’t keep up on food news the way I used to, so I didn’t know that Erin Ungerman and Hector Ruiz, owners of El Meson and Cafe Ena, are opening a new restaurant, Rincon 38, at 38th and Grand. Or that one of the owners of Buster’s will be opening a new bistro, Well Seasoned, at the Midtown Global Market. Also coming soon to MGM: a branch of El Burrito, St. Paul’s legendary Mexican market.