Monday, June 4, 2007

Art, Azia and a very stiff drink

Some friends of ours live at the semi-exclusive Minneapolis address of 801 Washington Ave, which is a massive loft conversion that was at the forefront of the conversion madness in that part of town that now has run amok. Nevertheless, the space is fabulous, the lofts gargantuan and the public areas are used as a gallery to display art. Once a quarter they host an art opening there for the public called, "Art at 801" so that the residents can show off the building to the community of envious gawkers and the art-i-nistas. After a couple of hours of people watching, it was after 10pm and we were peckish enough to brave Azia - a rather over-the-top pan-asian fusion place on "Eat Street" in Minneapolis.

We went with a happy-hour order of cranberry wontons and some fried calamari off the main menu. Calamari begs for salt - I don't know why, but anytime I've been disappointed with calamari, it was due to a lack of salt - this was no exception. The most interesting part of the dish was the sweet basil dipping sauce that I tried to capture in a photo. The color was akin to lime sherbet and looked terribly unnatural, but was quite tasty. They have a version of the calamari sauted with a sweet chili sauce so we'll try that next time.

The Cranberry wontons were $5 or $6 on the happy hour menu and made up for the calamari disappointment - they were crispy fried and stuffed with cream cheese. They made for the perfect companion for the Lychee-tini - a 14.5oz knock-your-socks-off monster of a cocktail made with lots of 3 vodka (it's apparently distilled from soy) and lychee-fruit puree. Be sure to hit this drink up at happy hour when it is 1/2 price - it's $14 during regular business hours. Given previous trips to Azia, I knew one of these would make me happy, two would create a personal disturbance. I stopped at one and was home watching TV by midnight.

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