24 December 2013

Minneapolis: Naviya's Thai Brasserie

So, how's things?  It's been a while, muffins.  Know why?  Guess.  Just guess.

IT'S BECAUSE I'M A TEACHER NOW AND I LOVE IT AND sometimes, when you have essays to grade and tests to make and PowerPoints to write and a Moodle site to update and you also want to fly in the face of time-management skills and have a social life while also getting 8 hours of sleep per night, you develop an addiction to coffee.  I mean - don't have time to blog.  But also coffee.

Anyway, food.  So Sunday night happened as follows:

ALLI: Matty, let's walk to the Harriet Brasserie for dinner!
MATT: (Skeptical) Where's that?
ALLI: Like half a mile away.  They have Nutella Mochas!  Look, I blogged it.  You'd love this tofu thing.
MATT: How cold is it?
ALLI: Like -1 or something.
MATT: (Squints)
ALLI: I ran 8 miles this morning, so if you don't walk there with me, you'll look like a wuss.
MATT: Yes, because that's something that I care about.
ALLI: (Bats eyes)
MATT: Let's go to the Brassiere.

So we set off, fully equipped in our best winter gear.  We were within one block when we walked by Naviya's - and it was a magical moment, wherein we simultaneously decided that walking an extra block would be maybe the worst thing that could possibly happen, and even though Matt had just had Thai the previous night, we would try this place for the first time.

Naviya's Thai Brasserie
2812 W 43rd St
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 276-5061
Monday - Friday: 11:30a - 9:00p
Saturday & Sunday: 12:00p - 9:00p

The menu is full of vegan and gluten free options, easily identifiable with their green parenthetical text.  Roughly 15 dishes, including appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and desserts, can be made vegan by request - but the real draw is their ability to veganize their curries.  That's right, friends!  Vegan Thai curries await you at Naviya's and, unless I'm mistaken, at no other Metro location is this a possibility.  (Chiang Mai Thai does offer a - as in, a single - vegan curry.  But we are way more impressed with Naviya's here.)

We, starving in a very first-world kind of way, started with 14. Thai Lettuce Wraps at $9.  I asked our server for the vegan kind and he asked if tofu would be alright.  I was like, "Is that even a question?!"  Except in a way more polite and socially acceptable manner.

Things always come in threes.  Bad things, good things, degrees Farenheit...
The DIY thing was super fun.  You grab some butter lettuce (Matt scoffs at the nutritional value of lettuce, but I caressed my face with the silky leaves like a long-lost lover because that's a healthy way to interact with lettuce), scoop in some of the tofu mixture, and sprinkle crispy rice noodles on top.  It is possible to stuff it all in your mouth in one go.  This is certainly the course of action I recommend.

10,000 times better than potato salad.
The blend of sweet (cracked palm sugar) and savory (wok-charred tofu and lime) flavors is super delish, and pretty much every food texture that ever existed is included here.  Except mushrooms.  Nobody likes that texture.  The tofu mixture has a smoky and/or bitter aftertaste that is totally enjoyable.

Matt got the 51. Pad Ze-Ew (sweet soy noodles) vegan with tofu for $14.  Check out these noodles:

Tofu vs. broccoli vs. giant noodles: who will win?  MATT'S MOUTH duh.
The description on the menu includes the magical words, "Double black soy reduction."  The noodles are so thick and wonderful - Matt could've eaten a plate of nothing but.  The sauce had a little heat and a nice soy flavor which penetrated all the components, veggies and tofu alike.  The dish was sweet-but-not-too-sweet, with a hint of caramelized something.  Win.

I went with a curry, which you knew a grillion paragraphs ago.  The 40. Red Curry "Elegant & Thunderous" with tofu for $15 - AND our server asked if I wanted white or brown rice.  I was overjoyed to have this option.

Brown rice literally turns you into a supervegan.
This thing was incredible.  Spicy and sweet, creamy and tangy, crunchy veggies and soft rice, with kefir lime and basil leaves to finish it off.  I couldn't have been happier with this dish.  Plus I get to eat more of it when I need a meal of leftovers.  Double score.

Then we went all out.  Perhaps you know that lately I've avoided all things sugar - so I made Matt order the Vegan Chocolate Ganache Cheesecake for $6.  He was super bummed.

Is this what it feels like to see the gates of heaven?
I decided to take one, and only one, bite.  Just so I could write about it without feeling like barfing up sugar.  Matt also decided to take one, and only one, bite.  He was full of noodles.  Then this happened:

Not a single gram of sugar was barfed up that day.
I ate like the whole thing!  One bite made it clear that it had no added sugar - the sweetness came entirely from coconut, dates, and dark chocolate.  Can you believe it?  What are the odds that I would land on such a dessert?!  And with cinnamon, no less!  My one weakness.  (By one, I mean one of like 8,000.)  Usually I'm satisfied with a bite of 85% dark chocolate, a few berries, or a super super light decaf mocha, but this outstripped them all.

During the walk back home in subzero temperatures, we thought of happier times, like the previous ten minutes when we had been sitting in Naviya's.

MATT: I hate my life.
ALLI: Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger!
MATT: So if by chance some guy comes up to me and says "Hey," then chops off my arms and legs, would that make me stronger?
ALLI: I like how he says hey.