Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Saturday, February 19, 2005

I feel like I ate a horse 

Definitions which may help you better read the following:

  1. 8:30 am: Spyhouse: coffee shop: Earl Grey

    I met Nick and Kella here to start the adventure. The goal was for me to eat at every restaurant on Eat Street between Franklin and Lake that has a door opening onto Nicollette Ave (AKA "Eat Street") - all two dozen of them. Nick would write an article for the Whittier Globe, I would make a weblog entry. The geographical constraints were dictated by the boundaries of the Whittier neighborhood. This was that day I was to be twenty-four times as likely to get food poisoning and the day I would eat the equivalent of three eight course meals.

  2. 9:32 am: McDonald's: billions served: breakfast burrito

    Pictured in the inset is a child who seemed like he could have had his picture taken all day. He experienced complete ecstacy when Kella showed him what he looked like in her videocam's view area. He had introduced himself to us by exclaiming, "Baby? No baby!" when he overheard me ask Kella if she'd like her own baby.

  3. 9:52 am: Yummy: Pan-Asian: steamed pork wontons

    Awesome: pork, shrimp and fish eggs. Inexpensive: $2.20.

    First time I've eaten in this relatively new establishment. I will be returning. They have tanks of live eel and crab, both of which I really like to eat after someone has cooked them.

  4. 10:19 am: Bubble Tea: Bubble tea house: coconut milk tea

    Not "coconut milk" tea, but coconut, soy milk, tea and tapioca pearls - chilled. Can't really go wrong with that.

  5. 10:41 am: Sinbad's: Middle Eastern: date cookie, pistachio cookie

    Inset is Freddie. Sinbad's is a Middle Eastern grocery store with great prices, as is the case with most ethnic groceries here. Sinbad's makes their own pastries and bread and have a restaurant which serves a buffet daily. The restaurant consists of tables and chairs in the front of the store in place of aisles. Freddie encouraged us all to dance, snapping our fingers with palms facing upwards like ... well, like he was dancing to Arab pop music.

  6. 11:27 am: Quang Restaurant: SE Asian: spring rolls, Hmong red bean drink

    This is the restaurant I usually argue for when going out for pho. Extensive but not overbearing menu, excellent pho and cold noodle salads, great prices, comfortable booths, fast, polite and efficient service. This restaurant is unique among the pho shops on Nicollette in that it is just as popular with ethnic Asians as ethnic Minnesotans. I usually get the pho with meatballs and beef tripe or mock duck noodle salad, but was going light.

    Jamie and his daughters Ivey and Ursula joined us.

    I enjoy the heck out of Hmong red bean drink (its a dessert, not a beverage) and its nothing like you would expect: its creamy and sweet, not "beany" at all although it does contain both soybean milk and actual beans. I also enjoy what they sell under the name "sandwich": french bread, lunch meat, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro. Two bucks - they have them to go by the cash registers. Picked one up for later.

    Update, next day: They've changed the recipe for "sandwich": it is now a medley of the ingredients, chopped. The sprig of cilantro is still whole. I like this better - one of the lunch meats included used to fight back when you tried to bite it apart.

  7. 12:27 pm: Java: Middle Eastern: herb pot soup

    I forget the vegetable name - something like "mlooka" - its like spinach but firmer. The herbs were mostly dill or a spice very like dill - at least that is what I detected.

  8. 12:56 pm: Old Arizona: SW American cafe: oatmeal crasin cookie

    I wasn't even aware this place existed - attached to the Old Arizona center for performing arts. As its their off-season and they were only open due to tap dancing tryouts, the menu was limited. The cookie was good.

    old arizona
  9. 1:13 pm: Pho Tau Bay: SE Asian: beef and young papaya strips

    I refer to this place as "the airplane pho place" as it has a line drawing of an airplane on the menu and used to have a huge photo of an airplane as part of the decoration. Nick always calls is "Pho Tau Bay" in a caricatured Vietnamese accent. The menu is much like Quang, but I just like Quang more - service is not as friendly here, although not exactly unfriendly. This was a very pleasing dish though. Immature papaya is more like a lettuce heart or cabbage than ripe papaya.

    pho tau bay
  10. 2:12 pm: Harry Singh's: Caribbean: chicken wings

    Harry Singh is the proprietor. This was the first time any of us had eaten here since it moved to Eat Street and the first time anyone had had the wings. They were great! Somewhat like jerk sauce, but distinctly different - maybe somewhere between jerk and mole sauces. Harry would not tell us what was in it - "You couldn't make it even if I told you and even if you could you'd then have no reason to come back. I have no reason to tell you."

    This is a really fun place to eat - the service is very welcoming and Harry's son Rob - pictured - is always so friendly, it doesn't even make sense to wonder if he remembers you, you may safely assume you are his most valued customer ever.

    harry singh's
  11. 2:59 pm: Christo's: Greek: chilled octapodi

    Tender; good marinade. When given the choice between squid and octopus, I almost always choose squid. But was in the mood for tentacles and there were no appetizer size squid. Being that we were on the verge of half-way though, this was one of my last chances for an appetizer.

  12. 3:48 pm: Blue something: bubble tea: thai tea shake

    I don't remember the exact name of the place, and see no reason to. They were out of tapioca balls, and when trying to ask what was in the drink, they couldn't tell me if it had actual coconut milk in it or not. Whatever I ended up ordering - which contained the words coconut, tea and milk wasn't very good - actually not good at all. Tasted like 1 part regular milk, 1 part water with some instant coffee and sugar. The Air Supply video on the flat panel made the experience a bit interesting though.

    made me blue
  13. 4:00 pm: Taste of New York: NYC style pizza by the slice: spinach and mushroom pizza

    I had feared all the cheese would fill me up, and I did feel uncomfortably full for an hour afterwards. Let's hear it for self-fulfilling prophecies.

    taste of new york
  14. 4:31 pm: Evergreen: Taiwanese: hot and sour soup, garlic and ginger seaweed

    This is an excellent and inexpensive place. Everything is prepared with excruciating attention to detail. Enjoyed my food immensely despite being somewhat full from the pizza. If you are feeling under the weather, you can describe your symptoms and have soup custom prepared for you. Once, Nick and I described symptoms to get soup-to-go for a sick friend - we were asked "Is your friend man or woman?"

    It may be a bit hard to find, so a hint: it is in the basement of a mall on the same side of the street as McDonald's between 24th and 26th streets - on Nicolette, of course.

  15. 5:17 pm: Azia: Pan-Asian: cranberry cream cheese wontons

    First time I ate at this relatively new and potentially spendy place. The cranberry cream cheese wonton's reputation had preceded them and they lived up to it. This location has had a new restaurant in it every few years since I moved to Minneapolis in the early 90's. Looks like Azia may be a keeper. A lot of attention is given to atmosphere and presentation.

  16. 5:49 pm: Jasmine Deli: Americanized SE Asian: BBQ pork sandwich

    The sandwich was very good and the proprietor - who sat with us - was very friendly in an outgoing way and very proud of his business. He picked our minds about what we liked about the food on Eat Street and noted he felt his was the best a few times. He also noted that the clientele are almost exclusively ethnically Minnesotan and told us he had spent a lot of effort determining what Americans like and what they don't like. He responded to my offer that I do like tripe in my pho - his response - "Yes, but you can't go more than maybe 10%." He is right - I should have more accurately said "I like a little tripe in my pho."

    jasmine deli
  17. 6:25 pm: Seafood Palace: Chinese: back pepper and salt broiled quail

    You will get real Chinese food here, not Americanized - so I've heard. The menu items are different than most American Chinese restaurants - whole pieces of meat and dishes containing almost exclusively of one vegetable. I've only eaten here three or maybe four times.

    The quail was very good: perfectly crispy and flavorful.

    seafood palace
  18. 6:52 pm: Pho 79: SE Asian: coconut desert drink with tropical fruit

    I tried to order the drink, but the guy wouldn't let me.

    "To go?"
    "For here, I'm just having a snack."
    "Not have that here."
    "You mean even that one in the glass glass?"
    "First you eat."

    When he came around again, Nick started to try to explain what we were doing, but he ran off again. I caught up with him at the cash register and told him I'd take one to go. Everybody felt quite jarred by the exchanges - the same guy had been running around in a state of hurried irritation a few weeks ago when we had gone around to write down hours each restaurant was open. See "Caravelle" entry further down.

    pho 79
  19. 7:31 pm: Rainbow: Chinese: chicken and corn soup, Rainbow Martini

    Rainbow is very good, but on the opposite end of the spectrum of Chinese food from Seafood Palace. Almost exclusively white clientele, and offers the Americanized version of Chinese food: heavier sauces, most of them sweet and sour.

    My chicken and corn (that is, maize) soup was good, but good like American corn chowder is. The Rainbow Martini is fresh ginger in Finlandia vodka. I enjoy their chow fun and would have ordered it had I not felt that I could tell there was little space left for burps between my mouth and what it had already eaten.

  20. 8:10 pm: Caravelle: SE Asian: fortune cookie

    Caravelle and Pho 79 share the same kitchen. Both had closed early due to the snowy conditions. We ate fortune cookies while the hostess cleaned up and politely explained that there was a rule that customers couldn't just come in and order coffee or just dessert. This could have been explained as politely in Pho 79 as it was in Caravelle.

    My fortune read, "It is easier to be critical than to create." Apparently designed with restaurant reviewers in mind.

  21. 8:27 pm: Pancho Villa: Mexican: flan, Corona beer

    Our server was perhaps the most appreciative of our expedition. The flan went down surprisingly easily.

    There was a soccer game on - as well as a boxing match. We discussed American football vs football. After spending some time trying to make sense of soccer's "offsides" rule and not understanding it, I wondered aloud if just as many non-Americans are convinced they'd still dislike American football had the been born here as there are natural born Americans convinced they would not despise the sport had they been born elsewhere. We didn't come to a consensus, but all agreed that Bush could never have won a single election had he worn a hat and moustache like Emiliano Zapata.

    pancho villa
  22. 10:11 pm: Porter's: Bar and Grill: bacon, Newcastle Ale

    Being as this is the only restaurant besides McDonald's we went to that is distinctly American, I tried to order the most American thing I could find on the menu: coleslaw. They were out, so I settled for bacon.


In addition to Caravelle closing, one pho place had closed before we got to it. Other than that, we succeeded. More later.

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