Nothing Like New York Nostalgia and MN Equivalents

So it’s been about two months since I’ve been back in the Land of 10,000+ Lakes, and while I am enjoying 90% of my minutes here… Let’s be serious, there are a few things I miss about New York and Brooklyn. First and foremost, I miss my amazing roommates- Amanda, Caroline and Michelle- turned sincere friends far more than anything. Secondly, I quite often think of my incredibly easy access to any type of food I wanted.

Usually, when I wasn’t thinking my off-brand frosted flakes and soy milk would satisfy me after a long day of trying to convince high school boys that graduating is actually a really good idea, I’d scour the internet for places that were under $10, try to grab a friend (mostly always Caroline) and hop on the subway for a fulfilling food adventure in the different Boroughs.

After a few months of finding the places that filled my stomach and offered a place of solace, entertainment, and community through the challenges of volunteer life, I was able to find the some of the best food considering my budget. To reminisce about the food that just isn’t the same or at the same value here in Minnesota, I’ve created a not that extensive list of the places I found myself loving far more than a normal person would.

So I’ve highlighted my favorite NYC spots and the lesser MN equivalents…

1. T Baar – Sunset Park! Ah this place was on my walk from the subway to my apartment through Brooklyn’s Chinatown. You guessed it, after a trying day or on a particularly hot one, I couldn’t get this place out of my mind. This place was amazing for any type of bubble tea.. My favorite the taro bubble tea with extra tapioca pearls. Additionally, thanks to me keeping my SCSU college ID, I was able to get the ‘student discount’ and a tea for $2.00 from the Chinese teenagers who ran the place. Ahhh transplant here TBarr!

MSP equivalent:

Tea Garden-Really there’s no comparison. But Tea Garden has sort of satisfied my boba tea fix now and again. There are a few locations- Uptown, Dinkytown and MOA- Dinkytown being my favorite. Their menu is a bit confusing with all of the different types of flavors and jellies one can throw in there, but I say stay away from that. I also find the taro so very far from less than awesome so stick to the Royal Tea or Thai Tea.

2. 16 Handles – St. Marks Place- As little or as much Birthday Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Graham Cracker, and Vanilla Sky of frozen yogurt with all the sprinkles I want in one bowl?! Does one really need 16 flavors of yogurt and 20 toppings to choose from? Nope, probably not, but hey I enjoyed it… Every. single. time. Only, they charge $.49 an ounce so skip the Capn’ Crunch and fill that cup with yogurt.

MSP equivalent:

Chilly Billy’s  – Dinkytown- I can’t say I’ve been here yet, but I’m going to make an assumption… Only 10 choices. Lame. But I’ll take it upon myself to go try this out. Soon.

3.  Zen Restaurant – St. Marks Place- I totally dig this place to satisfy my insane appetite for sushi. And 1/2 off all the time is always a great sell. By no means did I have many standards for quality sushi as a humble, full-time volunteer, but this place filled me up on sushi as if I was almost getting paid a living wage! I actually walked out of here with my stomach, mouth and wallet feeling the happy sushi high.Great place for sushi lovers with big stomachs, smaller standards, and even smaller budgets. Maybe a bit too much rice, but I would one of their dinner sushi meals that cost a bit closer to $10, and always walked out with my stomach feeling like I’d paid at least $30.

MSP equivalent:

None. Sad. Very, very sad.

4. Argo Tea – Union Square NY- While this chai isn’t exactly a great deal as it rings up to about $5.00 for a small, the blend, environment and location drew me back time after time. Full of NYU students cramming and collaborating on group projects, I enjoyed the bustling environment while loving the fact that I was always there for pleasure, not business. After the last sip of delicious tea is gone, leaving Argo’s doors can just be a beginning of a day adventure. The blocks surrounding Argo are stacked with University-ish shops, mainstream shopping and restaurants while Union Square’s Park is a great place to attend a farmers’ market and people watch.

Minnesota equivalent (actually maybe better):

Namaste Cafe – Uptown- While Namaste isn’t solely a tea shop (also offering Nepali and Indian cuisine), this cafe’s tea menu rivals any I’ve pondered over. Sitting and carefully savoring every ounce of my Ginger Cardamom Chai on their outdoor patio watching the flow of cars and bearded hipsters on bicycles here became my one of my favorite things to do in Minneapolis. Word to the wise- if you’re seriously craving tea in Uptown, forgo Uncommon Grounds. While UG’s is decent- Namaste has much friendlier employees and teas for $3.00 as opposed to annoyed servers and $6.00 teas. While I think about finding $6.00 outrage0us for a tea, I wonder why I think it’s decent to get a vodka diet for the same price.

5. Food Gallery 32 – Midtown – My heart just hurts thinking about how much I miss this place. This quality food court is a serious Korean wonderland. With several tasty booths, if you can’t find something in this immaculate food heaven, I ask, what are you doing in Koreatown? Several different varieties of cheap kimbap, cheap bi bim bap, friends (Christian and Caroline) who’d always go, and everything worth each penny at really reasonable prices. I loved this place so much, I found myself here once a week and continually breaking my volunteer budget. I’d probably fly back to La Guardia just for this place.

MSP equivalent:

Dong Yang – Fridley – Situated in the back of a great grocery store, this tiny restaurant promises huge portions, absolutely stuffed stomachs, and satisfied cravings for Korean food. Dong Yang is much pricier than FG32 and their kimbap seems like an afterthought.