Three restaurants whose roots are in Southeast Asia are being transplanted this spring in Saint Paul. The owners of the single Filipino and two Vietnamese establishments all promise updated versions of classic family recipes.
Set to open by the end of April, Kalsada will serve refined adaptations of traditional Filipino dishes, according to co-owner Leah Raymundo. The restaurant is located in the former Augustine’s restaurant at 1668 Selby Ave. Hours will be from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. for breakfast and 4-10 p.m. for dinner Tuesdays through Sundays.
“We’ve modernized home cooking while keeping the same flavors,” said Kalsada chef and partner John Occhiato, who most recently worked at Volstead Emporium in Minneapolis. Most of the dishes on the menu can be made without meat, dairy or gluten on request, he added.
Although the dinner menu is not yet final, it is likely to include such traditional Filipino dishes as lumpia (egg rolls), pork adobo and barbecued meats, in addition to more contemporary fare. Tropical cocktails will highlight the beverage menu. The restaurant will seat 75 diners indoors and will add 25 more on a streetside patio when the weather permits.
Raymundo and Occhiato also operate Stella Belle and Cafe Astoria in Saint Paul’s West End neighborhood. In fact, most of Kalsada’s breakfast dishes will mimic those served at Cafe Astoria. The partners previously worked in the front of the house at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Saint Paul.
BANH MI & YOU
A fast-casual banh mi sandwich and bubble tea shop, Banh Mi & You will open soon at 718 S. Cleveland Ave. With just six stools for seating, the eatery is designed primarily for takeout.
Owner Thinh Pham, who immigrated from Vietnam with his parents at age 5, owns three full-service Vietnamese restaurants: iPho Saigon on University Avenue in Saint Paul’s Midway neighborhood, iPho 2 in Inver Grove Heights and i Heart Pho on Saint Paul’s East Side.
Banh Mi & You will offer 10 varieties of sandwiches with such ingredients as Vietnamese deli meats, chicken, pork and vegetables, all complemented by a savory mixture of raw carrots, jalapenos, cucumbers, daikon radishes and house-made mayonnaise. The 6-inch oblong sandwiches are served on crusty wide baguettes. Prices range from $6-$10.
Bubble teas—iced flavored teas or smoothies, often with tapioca pearls or jellies—are the featured beverages. Banh Mi & You will also serve a few appetizers, including egg rolls, cream cheese wontons and French fries. Hours will be 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.
EM QUE VIET
Brianna Le and Maria Nguyen are transforming the former used bookstore at 1332 Grand Ave. into a full-service Vietnamese restaurant. “Little sister” to Que Viet, a Northeast Minneapolis restaurant that has been in the family since 1980, Em Que Viet will have more in the way of traditional Vietnamese dishes than Que Viet.
The menu at Que Viet incorporated many Cantonese dishes when Vietnamese food was less popular in the Twin Cities. Its oversized egg rolls on a stick have been popular at the Minnesota State Fair. Em Que Viet will also serve the signature egg rolls and some other dishes from the mother restaurant, but will emphasize Vietnamese cuisine, such as banh xeo, a crispy crepe filled with meat and fresh herbs; braised sea bass with a sweet-salty sauce; and a banana flower salad.
The 50-seat restaurant will include a full bar with exotic fruit cocktails and a bakery case with such goods as macarons and coffee almond cookies. It will have a takeout window facing Grand Avenue. Hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The owners would not specify an exact opening date, but said it will be sometime this spring.
— Carolyn Walkup
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