13 June 2012

Minneapolis: Evergreen

Jeez, I haven't blogged in like a WEEK.  And a half.  The only question I've been asked lately is "How do you get your protein?"  I'm wondering if I really want to make that post.  For you omnivores out there, to us this question is akin to asking, "Where did you get that interesting pillow to put on your couch?"

Now that I'm writing about it, I find myself inspired.  I think I will make that post tomorrow.  For now, enjoy our amazing Chinese meal and allow yourself to be heavily reminded of that time I posted about that one other Chinese place.  It was far away.  This one isn't.  Score!

2424 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN  55404
(612) 871-6801

The place advertises itself as providing authentic Taiwanese cuisine.  It's unarguably in the basement of a tiny Asian immigrant-run shopping center.  You won't get cell phone reception and you'll wonder how they got KDWB without commercials to play on the intercom, but it's a nice basement.*

Each table is equipped with those ubiquitous Chinese zodiac paper place mats.  Matt's a rat and I'm a boar.  Super attractive animals.  I'm sure you're something awesome, like a cat or dragon or something.  Good for you.  Good job getting born in a non-lame year.

To lessen the sting, you also get a pot of tea for free.  I like to add sugar to it - as far as I can tell, it's a black tea.  Tastes bitter and/or bland to me.  Since there's a big ol' sugar shaker at the table, I sweeten mine.  Considerably.

The Evergreen menu is extensive, but not overwhelming.  It's got so many vegetarian options that instead of using a v or similar symbol to flag each one, there's a circled little m next to each item that CAN'T be made vegetarian.  Isn't that great?  Of the vegetarian choices, you'll want to look for the ones that actually say vegan next to them in little bold print.  Keep in mind that there are more vegan choices than just those, however; most of the meat dishes can be made vegan with mock meat.  If you're not sure, just ask the server.

Captain Adventure and I started with Vegetarian Rolls for $3.20.  They smelled great and were definitely fried.  Hallelujah.  The veggies inside might have been steamed beforehand, and they didn't have very much flavor - but that's what the sweet and sour sauce was for!  It came in a red squeezy ketchup-looking bottle.  The rolls plus the sauce tasted better than I remember egg rolls ever tasting.  The fried taste didn't feel greasy or unhealthy - just crispy and delicious.  The server also brought us a yellow bottle along with the sweet and sour sauce - the it's full of wasabi mustard.  Some may call it horseradish mustard.  I call it death in a yellow squeezy bottle.  Proceed with caution.

I snagged a plate of Sweet and Sour Mock Chicken for $10.75.  I'd like to take this moment to thank Becca for always ordering this dish over the past several years - only now have I finally caught on that this is possibly the best thing on the menu.  Well, this and the Eggplant with Garlic.  And Three Cup Tofu.  Whenever Becca comes here with me, she orders it and I pick off her plate until she starts throwing rice at me.  (Just kidding.  She throws clever puns at me.  SO MUCH WORSE.)

The first time I ever came here, my companions and I were so convinced our mock meat was real meat that we asked the server if he'd heard us correctly while ordering.  Of course, he assured us it was fake, and we have since realized it's just really amazingly prepared mock meat.  It's still amazing: dense and chewy.  This particular dish comes with really wonderful juicy pineapple, crispy bell pepper, and cute carrots cut up like flowers.  The sauce, of course, is also awesome.  You know.  Sweet and sour.  Can't really go wrong with that.

Matt's Three Cup Tofu at $10.75 was fan-freakin'-tastic.  You gotta take a bite and wait about 30 seconds for all the flavors to unfold in your mouth while you chew.  It's spicy, garlicky, salty, dense, and SO GOOD.  The tofu is jam-packed with taste all the way through to the center, but succulently crispy and chewy on the outside.  It's like biting into... well, meat.  Evergreen knows tofu.

This restaurant has won several awards for its amazing treatment of everything it serves.  Now that you know that and have read my post, I'm sure you'll be wanting to visit Evergreen within 24 hours.  There's one more thing you need to know: it's closed on Tuesdays.  Don't despair.  If you forget and go anyway, you're on freakin' Eat Street.  Go to Bad Waitress.

* Writing about basements is approximately 10,000 times more enjoyable than writing the answers to online teaching application questions.  Next time I get asked how I'm going to reach diverse learners, I think I'll just put up a link to my chilluns post.

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