The intersection of 26th and Nicollet has been on a culinary roll, but the prolonged vacancy on the corner that formerly housed Azia has been a conspicuous void until now. The new Eat Street Buddha Kitchen and Lounge retains just enough of the former occupant’s menu and vibe to please nostalgics (including a riff on Azia’s famous cranberry cream cheese wontons), while letting diners know they’re not in Pham-land anymore. The sushi bar blends seamlessly into the liquor bar, forming a room-long island where Yoga Rolls (spicy yellowtail roll topped with salmon, avocado, and delicate slices of lemon) pair with Tang Dynasty cocktails, a bright concoction of apricot brandy, citrus fruits, and a sparkling sugared rim. The menu leans a bit heavily on the deep fryer, and the spice level of wok dishes seems to be calibrated to a Minnesotan palate, so heat-lovers should request an extra kick. Still, it’s a solid pit stop on an Eat Street progressive.
2550 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-886-2468, eatstreetbuddha.com