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Minneapolis' Gai Noi makes NYT's top 50 restaurants list

WCCO digital update: Morning of Sept. 20, 2023
WCCO digital update: Morning of Sept. 20, 2023 01:01

MINNEAPOLIS — The New York Times released its annual list of its favorite restaurants in the United States, and a new Minneapolis spot made the list.

Gai Noi, in the Loring Park neighborhood, opened in May.

It's one of the many restaurants opened by Twin Cities chef Ann Ahmed, who is also behind Lat14 and Khâluna. 

"If customers appear at ease dredging sticky rice through one of the four kinds of jeow, or chasing hot bites of laab with juicy morsels of shrimp flake-dusted watermelon, it has something to do with Ms. Ahmed and others who've been spreading Southeast Asian flavors across the metro area," wrote critic Brett Anderson.

Gai Noi is short for khao gai noi, a type of short grain glutinous rice that comes from the northern regions of Laos, where Ahmed and her family originate.

Anderson called the restaurant noteworthy because Ahmed "has never leaned so hard into her native Lao cuisine."

The restaurant is casual - they take no reservations, and about half the restaurant has communal seating. But there's also a level of refinement in the design. The food and the inventive cocktail menu are all bursting with life, color, and fun.

In 2022, Petite León in south Minneapolis landed on the list for its unique Yucatán-inspired dishes and its inventive, comforting aesthetic.

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