I hear it often mentioned, but seldom reviewed. Wife and I went last night, and I thought it was very good.
We arrived shortly after opening, and got a great table in a lovely room. The simple layout takes advantage of the warehouse space, but great lighting adds the right amount of intimacy.
We started with the Agedashi tofu and edamame. This is a must-order. The light,crispy tofu cubes drink up the signature broth, while papery whispers of fish actually curl up and swirl above (presumably on account of the steam). It's like a tasty version of the plastic bag scene from American Beauty.
The edamame was kind of an afterthought, but it's the best I've had. Tender, with a hint of sweetness. There was no soy sauce for dipping, and none was needed.
For entrees, we had the wild mushroom (topped with omelette) soba and the chicken udon. Both come in japanese-style broth, which is complicate and pungent without being overwhelming. I prefer the soba to the udon, though I didn't get to the latter until they had been soaking for quite a while. The mushrooms were exceptional, complimenting the taste of the broth without embracing it, and the chicken and egg were just right.
We finished with the pumpkin creme brulee, which doesn't seem to have been made on site. The shell was way to hard, and the custard was part warm and part cold. It was a bit of a disappointment, on doesn't seem to be in the Tanpopo wheelhouse.
For the price point ($40 including tea for two), this is some great stuff. This place gets a lot of praise here, and it is well warranted.
Tanpopo Noodle Shop
308 Prince St, Saint Paul, MN 55101
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