Wrapped Foods from All Cultures in the Lake Minnetonka Area

Wrapped food spans cultures.
Wild mushrooms take center stage in Spasso's raviolli, stuffed with Portobella criminis.

I think about food all the time: What I ate yesterday, what I might eat tonight and what I want to eat on my birthday. I also think about what kind of restaurant I would like to open. This last line of thought is a fun one, especially when pursued with a fellow foodie. A few years ago, a friend of mine hit upon what I thought was a genius idea for a restaurant. It would feature wrapped food from all cultures and it would be named Knish, after the savory filled turnover found in Jewish delis. Think about it: Every culture’s cuisine has some kind of self-contained meal wrapped in an edible skin, whether it’s dough, rice paper, seaweed or leaves. And we think it’s just plain nifty. We have yet to launch this brilliant concept restaurant, but it lingers in the back of my mind whenever I dine out. Here are some fantastic little bundles of yum in our area.



Big Bowl

If you ask me, dumplings are the best thing about Asian food and hallelujah, there are dumplings galore! I have yet to meet a dumpling I didn’t like; that said, the ones Big Bowl turns out are exceptionally delicious. Besides which, they’re adorable; each dumpling looks like a pregnant crescent moon with frilly fluted edges. I like the steamed dumpling combo, which features three chicken and two vegetable dumplings. You can eat them with chopsticks or your fingers; the filling stays put when you bite them in two. The ground chicken dumpling is shot through with the distinctively floral kick of lemongrass, and the finely chopped vegetable dumplings are crunchy and bright with ginger. Dip ’em in a soy ginger sauce or fiery hot sauce, or both. $4.95. 12649 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.797.9888; bigbowl.com


Ravioli are one of the many iterations of filled pastas found in Italian cuisine, along with tortellini, agnolotti and cannelloni, to name a few. Pasta dough handily envelops any combination of fillings to create a savory pillow of intense flavor, nicely complemented by sauce. Spasso knows its way around wild mushrooms and uses them to superb advantage in several dishes. The ravioli are stuffed with chopped Portobello crimini mushrooms sautéed in Madeira, mixed with mozzarella, parmesan and garlic. The sauce is simple but powerful: a nutty, basil-kissed brown butter with chunks of pungent aged Humboldt Fog blue goat cheese. Dio mio! $24. 17523 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.224.9555; spassomn.com

Lago Tacos

The word burrito translates as  “little donkey”—which gives us absolutely no insight into this popular Mexican constellation of meat, vegetables, rice and whatnot rolled into a soft flour tortilla, unless it’s a reference to its outrageous size. Newcomer Lago Tacos doesn’t pussyfoot around: Their so-called “monster” burritos are indeed lumbering, huge and slightly scary. There are many intriguing monster burrito choices on Lago’s menu—beef and potato, carnitas, chicken tinga—but we couldn’t resist the walleye burrito, a fine example of fusion cuisine, Mexico by way of Minnesota. Big chunks of hot, beer-battered walleye make up the bulk of the burrito. The crunchy fresh fish snuggles in with the restaurant’s signature Lago rice, shredded cheddar cheese, smoky-hot chipotle mayo, cabbage blend, chunky pico de gallo and creamy avocado, combining into a truly inspired cross-cultural flavor bomb. $12.95. 30 Water St., Excelsior; 952.836.1246; lagotacos.com



Origami West

Japanese cookery is full of fun food packages, sushi being the most notable, with its nutritious nori (seaweed) wrapping. Rice paper is another handy Asian wrapper, the binding stuff of myriad rolls and buns. Origami’s spicy tuna spring roll is a brilliant cross-pollination of sushi-cum-spring roll and it makes excellent finger food, a bounty of texture and taste snugly bound in soft, translucent rice paper. High-quality tuna is finely minced and tossed with chili oil, then wrapped up with translucent yam noodles, crunchy bean sprouts, fresh basil, lots of cilantro and a dash of fiery garlic chives. It comes with ground sesame seed dipping sauce that is earthy, mellow and utterly addictive. $12.50. 12305 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.746.3393; origamirestaurant.com


Bukhara Indian Bistro

Samosas originated along the trade routes in the Middle East as early as the first century; the small, portable pastries make ideal road food. Variations on the samosa remain popular throughout India and the Middle East, eaten both as part of a meal or a hot street food snack. At Bukhara, they are listed on the appetizer menu, though they would easily do for a lunch or a light dinner. We chose the beef version: sautéed ground meat fragrant with cumin and coriander stuffed into a triangle of flaky pastry, then fried to a rich golden brown. The pastries come with a spicy green cilantro chutney and a mellower sweet tamarind dip. The delicately spiced potato and pea samosas merit a separate order themselves. $3.99. 15718 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.476.7997; bukharamn.com


Christos, The Myconos Room

Package Deal
These pretty golden packets of flaky phyllo pastry are filled with chopped chicken, sautéed spinach, sautéed leeks and tangy feta cheese. Phyllo, a crackly-thin multilayered dough, is both delicate in texture and rich with layers of butter. The chicken and vegetable filling is lemony and light in contrast, and you won’t have any trouble putting away a few of these without feeling stuffed. Eat them on a dinner plate in this atmospheric restaurant with rice, cucumber salad and pita, or imagine nibbling away as you lazily sail the blue Aegean sea. $14.95. 15600 Highway 7, Minnetonka; 952.912.1000; christos.com

Lone Spur Grill & Bar

Latin-American hand-held street food dates all the way back to the Aztecs, with tamales and corn on the cob. Variations on the theme continue to evolve; the chimichanga is a more recent mutation that is more often found in the United States than south of the border. The football-shaped creation follows the same stuffed-to-the-max principle as a burrito, but the whole shebang is deep-fried for a crispy shell and molten interior. At Lone Spur, your choice of meat gets smothered with gooey yellow cheese and spicy burrito sauce. We always go for the brisket at this eatery, as it’s slow-cooked and smoked in-house so it’s always tender and ever memorable. This baby calls for all the accoutrements—sour cream, guacamole and salsa. Pile it on. $9.45. 11032 Cedar Lake Rd., Minnetonka; 952.540.0181; lonespurgrillandbar.com



It bears consideration: Where did people first get the idea of wrapping food? From Mother Nature, of course, as is so often the case. The baked potato is one of the original wrapped foods—a thick, dirt-cured container for a sustaining starch interior. We have taken the basic configuration and improved it tenfold with innumerable add-ons and toppings. A single thick-skinned, guinea-pig-sized russet potato can contain a universe of tasty contributions, from cheese and meat to vegetables. Ike’s offers a doozy of a spud, with Hope creamery butter from nearby Hope, Minn., along with bountiful sides of sour cream, bacon and cheddar for you to apply as you see fit. Although it’s listed as a side plate, a loaded baked potato can wipe out dinner in one fell swoop—satisfying and economical. $3.99. 17805 Highway 7, Minnetonka; 952.681.7099; ilikeikes.com