This past weekend, we tried Aribel's Restaurant (1120 E 66th St in Richfield). What a Chow find, if there was a prototypical Chowhound place, this would be it. It is a former Mexican restaurant that the owners are slowly remodeling tucked away in an otherwise non-descript area (although that may change when the nearby SuperTarget and Home Depot open). To call the atmosphere odd would be nice. (Some of the old Mexican decor is there, I swear the tables and chairs date to the early 1980s. At least they've repainted - apparently the previous owner of the place painted EVERYTHING black.)
We were really, really impressed. We were the only customers there on Sunday afternoon, and had a nice chat with the owner and his wife. They're very proud of their country, and their food. Guyana is part of South America, but more closely identifies itsself with the caribbean. They also have a large population of Indian and Chinese descent. Thus, the food is a fusion of all three: Caribbean, Chinese, and Indian.
We started off with an appetizer of fried dough made with chickpeas, and served with a homemade tamarind sauce. (On the menu, look for the appetizer that comes with 10 pieces) They sort of reminded us of hush puppies, but much lighter. They were a great carrier for the tamarind sauce which was sweet and tangy. I later found myself dipping anything I could find into that sauce - it was that good.
TCL ordered the vegetable lo mein. Take your typical American-Chinese Lo Mein, but replace the overwhelming soy sauce flavor with Indian spices. Add in a lot more vegetables (we were told that even the meaty versions have many more vegetables than the chinese version) and you have Guyanan Lo Mein. It was available with quite a few meats - next time, I think I'm going to have to have the Jerk Chicken Lo Mein (How's that for fusion?.)
I had the Chicken Curry. This was large chunks of bone-in chicken breast simmered in a caribbean curry broth (with a bit of Indian flavors as well). The chicken was perfectly cooked, and TCL and I soaked up the broth with our side order of their bread. (Again, I forget the name. It was a flatbread that was filled with ground chickpeas.)
The owner has worked in restaurants since he was a child. First in Guyana, then in New York, and finally here. He reccommended that we try their Beef Pepperpot, Cookup rice, or any of their fish dishes (they always have red snapper, and he said to ask if they have grey snapper). He imports his fish from Guyana (via New York) and his. He also promised to have a video about Guyana for us to watch, rather than the Indian music videos they usually play. (Saturday nights, they turn the place into a dance club that draws a diverse audience, mostly Indian, but also many from the caribbean, as they often feature live reggae.)
1120 E 66th St, Minneapolis, MN 55423