Last week, Ann Ahmed achieved a major milestone. She was named one of the semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation Awards. Today she announces the first milestone on the journey to opening a signature restaurant in Loring Park: the name. Gai Noi is short for khao gai noi, the short grain rice used to make sticky rice, which is common in Lao diets.
According to Ahmed, it’s commonly known as “little chick” because it’s spotted and small, and the little chick is the logo of the restaurant. Ahmed will be on my WCCO Radio show today (Jan. 31) to share more details at 4:30 p.m. (listen online or search for “DeRusha” wherever you get podcasts).
After she visits with me, she’ll head to Southeast Asia for two weeks to cook and dream and fine tune the menu and vision for the restaurant. You can follow along on the Gai Noi instagram: When will Gai Noi open? Ah… restaurants. Who knows! The goal is to open it in time to get up on that rooftop patio and have it ready by Pride Festival in Loring Park in late June. But supply chain issues still have restaurant equipment tied up and challenging to obtain.
The restaurant’s Instagram post explains, “So important is sticky rice in Lao culture, most Laotians refer to themselves as ‘luk khao niew’, or ‘children of the sticky rice,’ as sticky rice is the sustenance of the people; the central component of any meal and gathering. Honoring this reference and cultural significance, Gai Noi hopes to be a binding agent for the community and connection to a heritage, culture, and lifestyle worlds apart from our own; a place to gather, share, celebrate, and nourish, coming as you are and being welcomed as luk khao niew.”
Gai Noi will be located at 1610 Harmon Place in Minneapolis. Check it out at gainoimpls.com
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