Tanpopo Noodle Shop, St. Paul, MN

Wow, what a cool, hidden gem. And that's not to say it's hidden from everyone, but I'd bet from the majority. Reason being, if the majority knew about this very modest space, shared in a building with artist spaces and a coffee house, it'd be way bigger and way busier. Frankly though, part of the charm is being an out-of-the-way place (for quisine in MN) in an out-of-the-way location. 

Although on inspection they are a Japanese restaurant serving all kinds of foods, like sushi, sashimi, tempura, etc. , the word "noodle" is in their name and that's what drew me in. A quick web check has them listing two famous noodle varieties, if a noodle can be famous:

Soba (buckwheat flour)

and Udon (wheat flour)

They have daily specials
But on a chilly winter into spring evening, I wanted a bowl of boiling hot broth and fresh noodles. Dining solo, I had plenty of time to choose a beer 
from a brewery I'd never heard of, Hitachino... Japanese no less, and was delicious too. 

I could take my time on the menu, finding and settling on kimchi nabe, which I recognize as having a Korean influence, though maybe kimchi is more universal than I think?
They also did me a solid with my order and wouldn't let me, or strongly suggested not to, order soba noodles with the dish. They said the soba would disintegrate in the hot broth. So, I chose udon in the broth and had a side of soba just to get a taste. Both were awesome noodles. The fixins in the broth were also very well done. All in all, I had a great meal and left feeling like I found a hidden gem. That's a good feeling...plus the full tummy feeling too. 

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