Tanpopo Noodle in downtown St. Paul
Tanpopo, you elude me once again! I cannot tell you how many times (okay, so it’s 5 in the last two years) I have tried to eat at Tanpopo and been disappointed to find the quaint noodle shop dark, empty, and CLOSED. The promise of a big bowl of udon with just the right amount of bite, swimming in a clean, flavorful broth keeps me coming back - even when my hopes get crushed time and time again. When I first moved here, a friend from Japan told me that Tanpopo is her favorite authentic Japanese restaurant in the Twin Cities. Now one of my favorite restaurants in the TC as well, it is proof that there’s more to the cuisine than sushi and sashimi.
If you ever make it to the restaurant during operating hours, I recommend the nabeyaki udon, wild mushroom soba (though I usually prefer udon, soba goes well w/ this broth), tonkatsu teishoku (thin, panko-crusted pork cutlet served homestyle), and my favorite - the agedashi tofu appetizer. It consists of deep fried cubes of tofu that defy all your preconceptions of what deep fried tofu is supposed to be. They have a silky texture inside each cube and are coated with an outer layer of potato flour. The outer layer morphs from a gentle crisp to delightfully slippery, absorbing the ginger and dashi-flavored broth in which it sits and forming a little nexus of textures and flavors that makes me very happy.
From what I hear, the noodle shop used to be a ramen-ya and located elsewhere in St. Paul. Bummer b/c I love ramen to the point of absurdity. Anyway, the place must be doing pretty well for itself b/c it can keep these limited hours and is always busy. I am doing my part for social service by posting Tanpopo’s hours here, so that you may not experience the same disappointment that I have gone through one too many times.
Lunch (no lunch on Mon, Sat, or Sun)
Tues - Fri 11-2pm
Dinner (not open Sun)
Fri and Sat 5:30-10pm
Bonus: There’s a coupon in the Blue Sky Guide!