Ask Jason: Best Ramen, Shrimp, Dinner Date, and More

Your food questions answered

I love answering your food questions—you can email, tweet, Instagram, or Facebook message me. Here, I’ll compile some of my recent questions and answers:

“Going to downtown Minneapolis for lunch tomorrow—best ramen restaurant?” –Paula Hahne

If you can hit the edge of downtown, Zen Box Izakaya is the best ramen by far. It’s not even close. John Ng and Lina Goh run an excellent restaurant, and the passion and care he puts into ramen is amazing. Don’t miss the tuna poke and the tempura avocado, too. (Paula’s response: You we’re right about Zen Box!)

“My husband and I are celebrating our five-year anniversary tomorrow night and looking to enjoy something new and fresh. Wondering if there’s a spot you recommend. (No reservations, and keep around $100 or less.)” –Amy

Four options for you. In Minneapolis: Hai Hai in Northeast, Sweet Chow in downtown, and Bungalow Club in Longfellow. Hai Hai has inventive flavors, great drinks, and is very affordable. Sweet Chow is a little under the radar right now, but fantastic. And Bungalow Club (review coming soon to MnMo) is truly delightful. Far better than just a neighborhood spot, and also easy to do a meal under $100. In St. Paul, I adore Saint Dinette. Chef Adam Eaton is one of the most underrated in town—famous for his Saint Dinette burger, but so skilled with every other dish he creates. 

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“Jason, what’s the best place for shrimp in the Twin Cities?” –Kristin Bailey

Octo Fishbar has the best peel-and-eat shrimp I’ve had in my life. Juicy, plump, dusted with Old Bay, a great comeback sauce. For a shrimp boil, I’m loving Grand Catch in St. Paul, but you can also check out Crazy Cajun and Cajun Deli in Brooklyn Park.

“Where’s the best Cuban sandwich in the Twin Cities?” –Dan

Victor’s is such a hot spot for brunch in south Minneapolis that people forget it’s a great lunch spot, too. And the Cuban is legit perfect. If you want a great summertime spot along the Mississippi River in St. Paul, you can’t beat the Red River Kitchen Cuban sandwich, too.