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[NE Minneapolis, MN] Hai Hai - One of the Best New Restaurants in America | Tons of Gluten Free and Vegan Options


Whenever I see my home state in the national news, I am very excited, so I was super excited when Hai Hai was named one of the best (new) restaurants in America for the last two years.
Links: Food and Wine | Bon Appetit

For all of you gluten-free and vegan diners, there are SO MANY options for you (scroll down to see just how many).

I made us a reservation on Resy, just to make sure we had a spot reserved for us. They only release 25% of seats for reservations. Since we were dining on a Saturday, in order to make a reservation we could either eat brunch there, a geriatric dinner time of like 3PM-5PM or else eating at like 8PM (they don't allow reservations during the peak hours).

Three of us got drinks. These are the Mekong Manhattan, Hai of the Storm (slushie), and the lychee sangria. All of us highly recommend and we each chose appropriately for our tastes.

The food!
So, this is a "small plates" restaurant. That being said, however, the the "small plates" are actually not that small.

The Starters:


This is the Spring Rolls (goi cuon nem nuong) starter. These were so fresh and we loved them! You can make it vegan and/or gluten free, just make sure to ask them. The vegetables were so fresh and crisp and the green herb was so, so flavorful. The pork sausage is a somewhat sour sausage and it was super well balanced with the fresh veggies and the herb. The most unexpected and best part of this spring roll is the crunchy egg roll skin! It's like a little crunchy-chiplike surprise in every bite.


These are the Water Fern Cakes (banh beo). OMG, these were my choice and my family just kind of humored me. We all loved these! You can also order this gluten free. These are spicy, though. It's an enjoyable and flavorful spice, but spice-sensitive people beware. The crunchy elements added some wonderful texture to each bite and were a perfect contrast, obviously, to the soft, yet firm, steamed rice cake. The flavors were so great together - the savory flavor of the pork and onions with the spice of the Thai chilis.

The water fern cakes are somewhat messy to eat, but definitely add them to your order if you want to try something pretty darn unique. Don't worry, the server will let you know how to eat it, but basically you eat it like you would an oyster.

The mains:


This is the Banana Blossom Salad (goi bap chuoi) - can be made vegan or gluten-free. This is what my mom ordered. This was a combination of very unexpected flavors. The citrus mixed so well with the spice from the Thai chili. All of the textures played so well together and all of the ingredients were so fresh.


 

This is the Crispy Rice Salad with the Lao-Style Sour Sausage. This was the perfect dish for me. It was exactly what I wanted. I am not sure if I, personally, would call this a salad, though. But, they did. This vegetable was less like a vegetable salad and more like a grain salad, obviously. The pork was a nice addition, but I, personally, don't know if I needed it.

If you are worried about spice, this was not spicy to me. Oddly, my mom's Banana Blossom Salad did not have a fire symbol next to it, but hers was spicy and mine was not.

This is my dad's order. He got Turmeric & Dill Fish. He was so surprised by this dish. Honestly, we were all pretty surprised by his order, too (check out yesterday's post if you want to know why we were surprised). This was a very filling portion of food, too. The fish was so flavorful and so flaky. He actually didn't add the sauce to the bowl, so that should tell you how flavorful everything is. He did try some of the sauce and said that he preferred the no-sauce flavor personally.



Marissa got the Hanoi Sticky Rice (xoi man thap cam). This was also the perfect menu item for her, too. She was less of a fan of the pork floss, but loved all of the other fresh ingredients. She did like the Chinese sausage and mentioned that the pickled veggies were quite freshly pickled. She highly recommended this dish.

For those of you scared of spice, this was a very not spicy option and also a pretty safe option for people who are not used to Southeast Asian flavors.

She could not finish the whole bowl and brought this as leftovers and can attest that the bowl is also great as a leftover meal.


Hai Hai Menus:



But wait, there's dessert!


 

My sister and dad shared the Racines Cake. They both loved this cake and, obviously, fought over the ice cream.


This is the Vietnamese Che. I loved this! I love shaved ice for dessert. It is not that sweet, so I obviously loved this because of that fact. I loved the variety of textures and flavors that were in every bite. As an FYI, I obviously stirred this right after I got it, but I wanted a picture of it when it was so photogenic. It was kind of hard to stir it without spilling, so be careful of that, but it's nice that the top layer is literally just crushed ice. I love grass jelly! If you have never tried it before, you probably won't like the first bite, but it'll definitely grow on you and you will also come to love it. It has a slightly herbal flavor, but it's quite mellow. The coconut cream does add a slight creamy sweetness to the other more subtle flavors. The greatest thing about this dessert is harmonious interplay between the textures and the flavors.




*FTC Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through the links provided and make a purchase.*

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