Midori Floating World Cafe

Jon called me at the office the other day with a hankering for sushi. So we picked up our good friend Joe after work at the Light Rail Station and headed over to Midori’s Floating World Cafe. It’s not far from our home in the Longfellow Neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Now, I’ve lived in the Longfellow Neighborhood for more than 10 years and Midori’s Floating World Café’s has been there for more than six years, yet this was our first visit. I thought to myself, “Where have I been?” Then I remembered oh yeah, I was one of my friend Matthew’s caregiver’s for a couple of years then we remodeled our kitchen which took more than 2 years — my how time flies!.

Looking back, waiting this long is no excuse. We ate way too many times at the Longfellow Grill during our days without a kitchen when we could have been eating at what, I think, is one of the best sushi restaurants in the city. And we’ve eaten at quite a few, including Origami, Fuji-Ya, Saji-Ya, Bagu, Jade (in the Global Market) and most recently Tiger Sushi (Tiger Sushi is a whole other story and not a pretty one at that.) Thank goodness the neighborhood supported this family-run gem until we were able to get our feet in the door and chopsticks in our hands.

We started our leisurely Tuesday evening dinner with an order of Edamame – boiled & salted soy beans in the shell $3.95. They were hot, tender pods with the perfect complement of salt. Joe and I were also intrigued by the Takoyaki – octopus dumplings $5.50. According to Wikipedia it is made with batter, diced or whole baby octopus, tempura pieces (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion, topped with okonomiyaki sauce and japanese mayonnaise, originating from Osaka. The ones we had a Midori were much simpler but very tasty. This may be a stretch but they reminded me of a miniature savory aebleskiver. Both are fried dumplings cooked in a half-spherical molded, cast iron pan.

Shrimp Tempura – deep fried shrimp & vegetables in light batter $6.95 came next to our table by the window. Three perfect shrimp in a tempura batter cooked to perfection and without a hint of oil. Accompanying these tasty morsels were vegetables including a sweet potato spear, broccoli floret and a wedge of sweet onion. The $4 maki rolls during happy hour included a Spicy Tuna Roll – tuna, scallions, with spices, a California Roll – crab, cucumber and avocado, a Philadelphia Roll – smoked salmon, cream cheese & cucumber and a Dynamite Roll – tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and spices. All were fresh, delicate and full individual flavors.

Jon and I made a second visit to Midori’s Floating World Café, this time to check out their new space at the corner of 26th Avenue South Lake Street. While their new digs have more “room” it doesn’t have quite the atmosphere their former location had. The new space of 40 seats seems cavernous with tables just a bit too far apart. The walls are painted a light pink with darker maroon accents and a natural pine bead board wainscoting. The ceiling was painted, what looked to be the original tin ceiling near the front entrance. Beyond the greeting space you will find parasols hanging upside down from the ceiling. On the walls there were, what I would classify as, modern Japanese art – pleasant and colorful. Hanging over the bar area there are arts and crafts-styled lighting. The opportunity for a larger kitchen and the fact that the new space sits on Lake Street was the impetus for the move.

The music left much to be desired as they were playing a combination of Beatles along with some other older styled music. When we arrived, there were only two other tables occupied so it was much too loud and distracting.

For dinner, we again had the Octopus Dumplings, along with a Dynamite roll, California Roll and a veggie tempura roll as it was happy hour. I wasn’t as bowled over this time around. Atmosphere plays a huge role when I am dining whether in or out. The aforementioned music, unfortunately, put a damper on our second experience.

We’ll definitely go again, as it’s in the neighborhood and locally owned. My hope is that they will get in the groove in their new space and that the experience of the new will be a good as the old.

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