The new Ginger Hop is in the space formerly occupied by The Times Cafe, in Northeast Minneapolis. I am not privy to the reasons for The Times end, but it was somewhat of a sentimental place for me. So hearing of it's demise had me feelin' sad. But then...it's almost like the god's themselves heard of such sadness, and decided to make it better. Way better, by opening a THAI place in NORTHEAST MPLS. I could barely contain my excitement at such a rarity. So barely, that I went there 3 days after it's grand opening on Sept. 21st.
I have so many thoughts about this place, it takes work to organize them. In order to do so, I'm doing this blog in sections.
There have been no extreme renovations to the structure, so the layout is the same as The Times. Which is good...but weird. The dining area has been revamped into an attractive, modern, clean looking dining space. Comfortable and romantic. Dark and inviting. Versatile, as you could just as well snack at the bar, or have a special night here. The vibes are good, and stress free. Stress vibes are not my friend. In the bar area, there are Asian fans on the ceiling, individually waving back forth in unison. Very cute. The biggest revamp is in the bathrooms.
The only critique I have is for the bar area. It needs something. If I remember correctly (which i often DONT so dont throw stones if I am wrong!) The Times had some back lighting behind the bottles and whatnot. My companion for the night (and Ginger Hop waitress, Christy Hunt) pointed out it needs some lighting. It is a new place, so I'm not concerned about tweaks such as these.
Well - I sat at the bar. My bartender was one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen, and most importantly: they pour wine with a heavy hand. Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!
The cuisine is primarily Pan-Asian. Some appetizers are ceviche, spring rolls, wontons (cream cheese, or cream cheese and carmelized onion with no price difference.) and all are on the cheap. I'm pleased the menu is brief, but not so brief that there's only one thing I would order. In fact - I would like to try about 90% of things on the menu. Specifically, the banh-mi! I have heard of banh-mi, but only imagined eating it one day, since it's not common fare here. For those not familiar, it's a Vietnamese baguette sandwich, with pork, carrots, lettuce, cilantro, something pickled (memory lapse, forgive me) and other dreamy things. Their spin on the reuben is innovative, using kim-chee, which I hear is local along with other ingredients. Other fare includes 2 curries, some noodles, asian salads and soups. The wine list seems extensive, affordable and user friendly. They have a standard cocktail menu, and some sake as well. I had the Red Tree cabernet, which was lovely.
Since I was a little money shy, I decided on the spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce ($5), and a chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce ($2.) The spring rolls were HEAVENLY. Some spring roll no-no's = gummy rice paper, loosely wrapped, lettuce/good stuff ratio being 75/25. None of this occured. NONE! The spring rolls were light, cold, and fresh. The balance of flavors, exquisite. The chicken satay was delightfully fragrant. When my food was placed in front of me, I immediately inhaled the delicate scent of yellow curry which the chicken is marinated in. It is delicately flavored. Not dry, not overpowering, and not bland.
I was concerned about recieving the same peanut sauce. But no. The spring roll dipping is a thin asian sauce, with some chopped peanuts in it. The spring roll sauce was the best I've had, harmonizing all four S's perfectly. I was so pleased, I wanted to do some harmonizing of my own! The satay sauce was a thick peanut sauce, which tasted like unsalted peanut paste. It was very complimentary to the satay.
Sometimes, you just go to a place where everything just works. I have no complaints about my visit to Ginger Hop. I'm even more excited for it's smaller counterpart, Honey (formerly Jitters) to open. I forsee going back many times, bringing many people.
There is no website for Ginger Hop yet.