Korean Flavors in a Minneapolis Market

Bok Bok at The Left Handed Cook

MINNEAPOLIS – You realize pretty quickly, while looking for a parking space, there’s an ethnic experience ahead. Inside the giant, concrete lot adjacent to the Midtown Global Market, there are instructions written not only in English and Spanish, but Ethiopian – a nod to the region’s growing immigrant wave from Somalia and Ethiopia. I had been to the Market a few times before, always stopping by Michelle Gayer’s Salty Tart, where flour, sugar and butter are coaxed into magical tarts, cookies and cupcakes. But this time I was on a mission. I had heard great things about The Left Handed Cook, which was drawing on Asian flavors (mostly Korean) and employing them in some non-traditional dishes. It was love at first sight (of the menu) for me.


The section of Bop (rice bowls) had me at the first item listed: Bok Bok, a 10 inch-wide, circular tinfoil container stuffed with what is essentially a riff on bibimbop. The base is all white rice, but its been thoroughly soaked in moderately spicy gojujang (Korean chili paste). Above that starchy/spicy layer, knobs of vibrant kimchi, sauteed spinach, crunchy romaine and a soft-poached egg that exploded upon the slightest nudge from my chopsticks. On the side, a “21 spice” fried chicken finger of sorts, which I devoured, thanks to its crunchy coating.


There were several temptations on this menu: a mac and cheese with truffle oil and panko bread crumbs, plus a “hot tofu” with buttered kimchi and a poutine featuring pork belly, curry, kimchi, poached egg and chipotle aioli. But I gazed at the sandwich section, and couldn’t resist trying The Chop, a.k.a. chopped softshell crab:


“The Chop” at The Left Handed Cook


I would have been happy with just the crab, the Thai mayo and the ultra buttery bun from nearby Salty Tart. But when you add fresh avocado, onions, peppery arugula and a vinaigrette, I’m unable to restrain myself. I honestly wish I would have visited with a few friends, as I could have easily ordered four more dishes that caught my eye (see you next time, Mussels from Brussels). The most impressive feat: this small brigade is producing food with massive flavors in a space no bigger than the average food truck kitchen. If you plan on visiting the Twin Cities anytime soon, you’ll no doubt want to visit The Bachelor Farmer and 112 Eatery for serious sit-down dining; oh, can’t forget about Tilia too, but be sure to carve out an hour or so to hit the Global Market and do some serious grazing. Don’t forget to bring a friend or two.


The Left Handed Cook stall at the Midtown Global Market

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