I had a birthday happy hour for my friend Lisa on Friday the 10th, so decided it would be a good time to try out moto-i for dinner - killing two uptown events with one stone. We got there a few minutes late for our 7pm reservation, and were punished with a table in the very boring and ambiance starved upstairs. They don't have any music or decor up there - it really was pretty lame. They should work on that. In hindsight, I would have rather waited 20 minutes for a table downstairs or sat in the bar, but since Ben was already seated by the time I came in, I didn't want to bother.
I was absolutely starving, so I ordered the rangoons (shocker). They were some of the best rangoons I've ever had! Light and crispy skin, delicate cream cheese mixture inside and excellent sauce. Yum. If we had paid attention to the many reviews available, we would have known that moto-i is known for their small plates and not for their entrees and would have just gotten a number of those, but alas, we did not do enough research...
We ordered one each of all the cold sakes. I have had sake before a few times (just a sip here and there) and I knew I wasn't a fan, but figured I had to at least try it again, given that moto-i is the only sake brewery restaurant outside of Japan. I still didn't like it, but that's no fault of moto-i's. Ben spilled one of them all over the place, so that was awesome, and put me in an excellent mood.
I ordered the Thai Fried Rice for my meal because Jake said it was pretty good. It was just that, pretty good. Not great, not bad. There was a little icon next to it on the menu indicating that it was spicy. This is not the case at all. In fact, I would even go so far as to say it was anti-spicy. From me, that's saying a lot given that I normally order my food at a zero level of spicy and that even can be too much.
Now that I know that the small plates are where it's at, I would go back to moto-i, sit downstairs, and order a bunch of small plates. It's certainly not somewhere I'll rush back to though.
Two Fridays ago (this is late I know, Erin's been bugging me about it) we went to moto-i with Jake and Allison. Jake had been there once before, but didn't try any sake at the time and they wanted to go back.
moto-i is right at the intersection of Lake and Lyndale in Uptown. This means that parking is a little tight, but we've had good luck finding a spot on Aldrich (one block west of Lyndale). The first floor has a large bar in the middle of the room, surrounded by tables. The restaurant is narrow, but there are at least two floors of tables and the server mentioned that they will be opening a rooftop area when the weather gets a bit warmer. I would definitely go back just to try out the rooftop.
We were seated on the second floor which was kind of a bummer because it seemed they had JUST filled up on the first floor, so we were the only table of people upstairs, along with some people at the smaller bar. Jake and Allison hadn't arrived yet so I ordered a Surly Furious before ordering the sake. The beer list isn't huge but it has plenty of variety with an assortment of Minnesota beers from Summit, Surly, Lift Bridge, Schells, Lake Superior, and Grain Belt.
Initially I was thinking that we would order our own sake but it made more sense to just order one of each and share them all. This way everyone got to try each one (we didn't order the one hot sake) and it was cheaper than everyone ordering the individual sample ($12 each). Of course I managed to spill one of them soon after they were delivered, but they were really cool about it and replaced it without charging us for it, which was great.
I've only had sake a couple times so I don't know what "good" sake tastes like. The sake we had at moto-i tasted like I'm told sake should taste and has the added benefit of being brewed right at the restaurant. I still prefer beer to sake so I think that even if I go back at some point I probably wouldn't even order sake.
Shockingly, Erin found the closest thing to cream cheese wontons on the menu and quickly ordered them for the table. We got the rangoons with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and chili sauce. These were a great appetizer, as most fried things are :)
The entrees are noodle and rice dishes similar to what you would find at a Thai restaurant. The drunken noodles sounded good, but I had just had that same thing at True Thai a couple weeks ago, so I went with the curried noodles. I contemplated substituting chicken for the beef and in hindsight I wish I had as the beef wasn't that good. To be honest, the whole entree itself was nothing special and I think that almost every Thai meal we've had for wegotserved has been better than this one. The portions were smaller and it felt like more effort went into the presentation (which was excellent) than into the taste. One thing that I did like was the spice tray they bring out so you can make the dish as spicy as you like.
I would go back to moto-i at night to try out the rooftop, but I doubt I will go back for dinner. We have so many Thai places yet to try (even though this isn't technically a Thai place, most of their entrees seemed to be Thai inspired) that I would go to someplace new instead.
- Service: The service was fantastic, they replaced the sake I spilled and were on the ball the whole time.
- Food: The food was OK, but the entrees not as good as other Thai places we've been. The appetizers are great.
- Drinks: Good selection of MN beers and they brew their own sake. They also have wines and a full bar.
- Ambiance: The first floor had a good vibe while we were there, but unfortunately we were buy ourselves upstairs for awhile :(
- Price: The prices for food are reasonable, the sake is a little more expensive, but with good reason. Still not an outrageous night out.
- Convenience: Might have to walk a block or two to park, but there are plenty of buses too.
2940 Lydnale Ave S.