World Street Kitchen: Love! Bukhara? Not so much…

Been putting the next issue of Real Food to bed this week, so I’ve been chained to my desk. You should grab a copy of the magazine when it comes out in the next few weeks, available locally at Lunds and Byerly’s stores, and check out the article about Nigella Lawson. She has some remarkable things to say about the local and organic movement: “In the Victorian age, the poor had to make do with what was seasonal and local, and the aristocracy built glass houses in which to grow pineapples and other exotica,” she told our writer, the estimable Tara Q. Thomas. “I sense that, now that the masses, so to speak, have access to imported rarities, the moneyed classes wish to distance themselves from the mob, and so an inverted snobbery grows.” I think she’s got a point. I also think that Anthony Bourdain has been trying to say the same thing, just not as eloquently. Leave it to the British to put their finger on class issues.

Speaking of class: I’m in love with the super classy World Street Kitchen, the street-food truck opened in September by Sameh Wadi. Wadi, of course, is the chef and owner of Saffron, Minnesota’s leading (well, and only) haute Middle Eastern fusion restaurant, and the only Minnesotan ever to compete on Iron Chef. He’s been working in the truck himself, with his brother Saed Wadi standing out in front of the truck expediting. (That is, organizing the orders for the cooks.) Why do I love WSK so? First, the flavors: So fresh. So unusual, at least on the streets of Minneapolis. Some highlights: An heirloom tomato salad with sweet ripe green and red tomatoes, handfuls of chopped mint, handfuls of cilantro, crispy little pita chip triangles, and a lively sauce; it was summertime on a paper tray. Another joy: The pressed lamb sandwich, made by pressing big chunks of lamb, pickled peppers, herbs, and cheese together inside a fluffy banh-mi type roll ‘til the roll gets as flat as a tortilla and everything inside it fuses into one delicious whole. My last love: A rice bowl, a sort of Middle Eastern take on the Korean classic dish bibimbop. The bowl consisted of a fried egg, a version of the above heirloom tomato salad, and well-seasoned grilled chicken all piled high on a bowl of short-grain rice, and squirted liberally with a spicy chili mayonnaise. That’s craveable street food! My only regret is that I don’t have a giant stack of them to get me through this winter. Saed Wadi tells me that they plan to be at their parking lot location across from the Nicollet Mall light rail station (Fifth Street, across from Nieman Marcus) through mid October or perhaps a bit later, and then shut down for the year. Noooooo! Wait, I don’t think that expressed it. Nooooooooo! Nope, that’s not it. This keyboard doesn’t contain enough o’s to express my dismay. Sameh Wadi, the chef, told me that World Street Kitchen has been a back-burner plan for many years, originally conceived as its own restaurant. Please, someone buy that truck a heated garage for the winter!

Barring that, go before it snows. You won’t regret it.

And you certainly won’t regret it as much as I did my first, and likely only, meal at the western suburbs newest Indian restaurant, Bukhara. I went this week and discovered some great lentil dal. Subtly spiced, a compelling blend of differently textured lentils that was so fragrant you could just hover over it like an aromatherapy spa session. Excellent veggie samosas, again subtly spiced and complex. And everything else was atrocious: The garlic naan was raw, the lamb biryani as mushy as baby food, the chicken vindaloo was actually some sort of mild white curry as rubbery as pencil erasers, and the sampler of various kabobs as rubbery as the trunk of a rubber tree. The restaurant reminded me of a place I went to once years ago when the chef explained to me that he was a vegetarian and had never tasted any of his dishes that contained meat. Not that I’m saying this place does that, but if I ever went again I’d stick to the vegetarian offerings. I’d stick to them like a sequin applied with marine epoxy.

Bukhara Indian Bistro
15718 Wayzata Blvd E., Wayzata