Food For Thought: Thom Pham’s Wondrous Azian Kitchen

One of my biggest guilty pleasures is dim sum brunch at Thom Pham’s Wondrous Azian Kitchen.

For those who don’t know what dim sum is, it’s like a buffet on wheels. The waiters and waitresses roll carts around, each containing a different type of food. The dim sum service consists of a noodle cart, a traditional cart, a steamed cart (my personal favorite), and a fried cart. As the servers bring them around, you pick what you want off of them.

When you open the stainless steel dim sum boxes, it’s like opening presents on Christmas morning – the excitement nearly destroys you.

As steam rises from the freshly opened boxes, the aroma of the dishes hit you and you’re immediately entranced. You can’t help but inhale everything in front of you in order to get to your next dish.

Selections range from fried shrimp balls, which are ground shrimp and pork coated in crispy wonton noodles, to squid with a green onion and ginger sauce. Of the thirty items on the dim sum menu, my personal favorites are the steamed egg custard buns, which are filled with a thick and creamy faux egg custard that is slightly sweet and dense, and scallop topped dumplings that are symmetrically square in presentation and filled with succulent ground shrimp. I often eat the dumplings offered during the service with a mixture of sriracha, a spicy chili and garlic paste, and soy sauce, giving them a hot and salty kick.

The dishes are nothing special in presentation with the exception of the shark fin dumplings, named for their resemblance to none other than a shark fin, and their desserts. The dim sum service offers beautifully crafted desserts to bloat your belly even more. The mango custard is exquisite in flavor and texture, garnished with a cherry and mint leaves.  It’s the perfect pallet cleanser.

The restaurant itself is dark and intimate. The decor is a fusion of modern American and traditional Chinese, housing an extreme amount of red and black with gold, yellow, and white accents. The cartoonish logo and stone lions outside the restaurant allow it to stand out in a part of downtownMinneapolisthat many of the city’s top notch restaurants call home. The restaurant is a bold concept forMinneapolis, which contains few Asian, American, and French fusion restaurants.

A typical dim sum outing for me lasts around two hours and leaves me incapacitated. If you haven’t experienced the resulting food coma from Thom Pham’s dim sum brunch, you need to do it ASAP. Costing only twenty bucks, you won’t regret it.