What is the least known, great food pilgrimage in the United States?

by on September 10, 2013 at 6:11 am in Food and Drink, Travel | Permalink

Could it be Hmong Village, 1001 Jackson Parkway, in north St. Paul?

It is a large indoor market, set in a warehouse, Hmong stores and stalls only, a kind of Eden Center (for those of you who know Falls Church, VA) for Laotians.  The produce and spice and bark sections are amazing.  Along one wall of the warehouse are about fifteen small restaurants, barely more than stalls, mostly Hmong in their cooking but two served authentic-looking Thai food.

Based on visual inspection of the options, we dined at Houaphanh Kitchen, which was superb, don’t forget the dipping sauces.  And I hope you like purple sticky rice.  The other places did not look much worse and there were many more dishes I wanted to sample.  Overall entrees ran in the $4 to $6 range.  Highly recommended.

Here is some discussion, with good photos.  Here are some useful Yelp reviews.

david September 10, 2013 at 8:09 am

What approach did you use in your visual inspection of the options? ;D

mb September 10, 2013 at 8:19 am

Address correction:
1001 Johnson Pkwy,
St Paul,
MN – 55206

Travis Ormsby September 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Also, in St. Paul, we would call that the East Side, not north. There isn’t really a “north side” and North St. Paul is a suburb.

albert magnus September 10, 2013 at 9:43 am

Is bark good to eat? Do you eat it with sauce or something?

Sean P. September 10, 2013 at 12:15 pm

You swallow a whole tablespoon of ground bark at once and I give you $5 if you can keep it down.

albert mangus September 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm

So its like Cinnamon or something?

Jordan Peacock September 10, 2013 at 9:45 am

Oh man, that’s local and sounds *awesome*. I know what I’m doing this weekend.

Tim September 10, 2013 at 10:44 am

This is the most Tyler post in the history of Tyler posts. The bark really sets it apart.

dan1111 September 10, 2013 at 11:00 am
John Thacker September 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

At this point, anything that Tyler posts on is no longer the “least known” food pilgrimage.

Andrew' September 10, 2013 at 11:58 am

Or it’s the most known unknown rather than an unknown unkown.

karl September 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm

You go to eat with the food court you have…

Tyler September 10, 2013 at 11:38 am
Bjartur September 10, 2013 at 11:57 am

Thanks TC, now the bark lines are going to be huge :-(

Edward Burke September 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Gastronomic Research Alert #09102013: or, What Could Anyone Have Against Chitterlings?

http://www.chitlinstrut.com/

Yum!

mkt September 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Nice, but there are several un-answered questions. I presume that Hmong cuisine differs from other sorts of Laotian cuisines. But I know almost nothing of either; had Laotian food for the very first time about six months ago. Really good, probably closer to Thai food than Cambodian but that’s based on my single experience. Is the purple rice the same as what’s used to make the sticky black rice dessert? That’s really good too, but seems to already be fairly well known in the US, and seemingly not a Hmong dish per se.

Bill September 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm

One of my relatives is a New York film documentary producer who visited this place and loved it, along with some other places along University Ave. there is a locally produced documentary which he said covered the development of this area. One of the interviewees is a an economic geographer who discussed how the city was trying to develop this area. No city plans, but the market solved the problem: entrepreneurial Hmong and and Vietnamese rented cheap properties and built a string of very authentic ethnic restaurants that could not have been imagined by any city planner, in the words of the economic geographer. My relative is looking at doing a similar documentary on a changing area in Brooklyn.

chuck martel September 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm

There are two Hmong/Karen Lao markets in St. Paul, one on Como & Marion and a newer one on Johnson Parkway. There’s also a seasonal one on Dale & University but it doesn’t feature any restaurants.

Pat September 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Williamsburg, Va. Pierce’s BBQ off of I-64. It is well known for Barbeque, but if you try the Burger’s there, they are phenomenal;

http://www.pierces.com/

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