When a new restaurant opens in Minneapolis and the earliest reservation you can get is for a month from now, you know it’s going to be good. At least, that’s what my gut told me walking into Khâluna, south Minneapolis’ newest Laotion restaurant.
And let me tell you, my gut was right.
Not only was the food phenomenal – the wine list had me salivating, the atmosphere was unlike any Twin Cities restaurant I’ve tried, and yes, the reservation was worth the wait. I found the service to be wonderful – we’d gone roughly one month after the official opening, and every single person working at the restaurant provided such a wonderful experience that made for such a lovely evening.
A modern, warm design with earthy flair
When it comes to my favourite places, atmosphere is everything. And I mean that. If the food is great, but the space doesn’t feel inviting – odds are, you’ll only ever see me order takeout.
Khâluna, formerly Harriet’s Inn, has created a warm, inviting space that begs you to stay a bit longer from the moment you walk in the door. With calming interiors rooted in earthy elements, the table settings and space itself set the scene for the bold flavours delivered in every single meal.
Ann Ahmed has certainly outdone herself with her newest Minneapolis dining venture – and it’s one you really should consider trying if you’re in the area.
Food and Wine
This is the type of food that craves a second look (and maybe a quick picture). It’s rooted in traditional Thai and Vietnamese flavour-profiles (think banana blossoms, spices, Thati chilis, coconut milk, fish sauce and aromatic herbs) but taken to the next level, Ann says, a tribute to her time living in sunny California.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what we ordered during this visit to Khâluna:
Ann Ahmed’s signature basil wings, made with tempura fried wings, thai basil, jalapenos and signature dry rub. A spicy, aromatic bite that keeps many coming back for more.
My personal favourite, and a good dairy-free option for those that require it, these samosas are made with ground chicken, potatoes, thai chili, cilantro and madras spice. As someone that doesn’t love cilantro, Ann’s use of it in the samosas is the cooling element that this spicy plate needs. Easy enough to say, I was tempted to order a second plate.
I was a bit unsure of these at first, but these came in as a close second for my favourite dish, these tapioca pearl dumplings were unlike anything I’ve ever tried. Made from shiitake and crimini mushrooms, picked radish, peanuts, pistachios, tapioca pearls – this vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free option is one that you should definitely try at least once.
Now, I did not personally try this plate, as I’ll admit – I’m not a fan of seafood. However, my parents (who very much are), really enjoyed this one. The shrimp roll created with shrimp (obviously), jicama, purple shiso, mint, cilantro and rice paper is a fantastic dairy-free option for those of you looking for the fruits of the sea.
My father is a massive fan of a good old-fashioned. To the point where he’ll ask every bartender how they make theirs, you know, to perfect his own – for which he swears that his secret lies in the cherry. More specifically, the Luxardo cherry. Khâluna’s old-fashioned, made with Suntory Toki, Torres 10, Uncle Nearest, Coconut Ghee, Palm Sugar and Chamomile-Rested Trinity Bitters, was spirit-forward (the way I prefer a good cocktail), aromatic and a true experience from first sip to last. If you’re a whiskey drinker, this one is for you.
I love a good red. Especially an old-world red. Spanish wines are right up there for me alongside an Italian Sangiovese-based wine or a Brunello di Montalcino. The Tempranillo from Khâluna was a perfect compliment to the small plates we ordered. Full-bodied and well-balanced, a wonderful wine for almost any occasion.
***One thing to note, if you have a seafood/shellfish allergy – you may find yourself with limited options on this menu.
How to Find Khâluna
New to the intersection of 40th and Lyndale Ave S, here’s how you can find Minneapolis’ newest Laotian restaurant, Khâluna.
Have you ever been to Khâluna? If you have, what did you think?