What happens when you mix Japanese food, Italian food, and one of the Twin Cities’ most successful chefs?
You get Sanjusan, one of the newer North Loop restaurants from Daniel del Prado.
Does this crazy combination actually work?
We booked reservations and decided to find out for ourselves!
DiscoverTheCities.com “Must Eats” at San Jusan
- Arancini blew us away
- Pork Gyoza was incredible, and unlike anything we’ve ever had
- The Isaac Becker or Funghi pizzas are some of the best pizzas in town, bar none.
Sanjusan is one of the newest concepts from Daniel del Prado, aka the guy who just might be the Twin Cities most popular restaurateur.
For a quick refresher, del Prado arrived on the Twin Cities foodie maps when he was running the kitchens at Bar La Grassa and Burch Restaurant. Since then, he’s been opening up his own hugely popular and critically acclaimed restaurants all over town.
(If that resume wasn’t impressive enough already, del Prado also runs Colita, Cafe Ceres, and Cardamom, and he even shares kitchen space with Kado no Mise and Kaiseki Furakawa)
After getting our minds sufficiently blown at Martina (our full Martina review here) and thoroughly enjoying our visit at Rosalia (full Rosalia review here), we knew we had to add Sanjusan to our list.
Our Full Review
Sanjusan is located in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood.
Its building houses three other all-stars in the Twin Cities food and beverage scene… Sanjusan takes up the building’s entire bottom floor, while the following sit upstairs:
- Kado No Mise (one of the best sushi restaurants in Minneapolis)
- Kaiseki Furakawa (possibly the most expensive restaurant in the Twin Cities)
- Gori Gori Peku (a high-end Japanese whiskey bar)
The Vibe and Atmosphere
When you book a reservation at Sanjusan, you actually get three different options:
- Indoor table reservation – this covers the regular dining tables in the restaurant’s bright, open dining room.
- Indoor counter reservation – this is essentially bar-style seating, where you get a front row seat to the food coming out of the kitchen.
- Outdoor dining reservation – only available in the summer months, for obvious reasons here in Minnesota. The patio is essentially a sidewalk/alley patio with large umbrellas at each table.
We opted for the outdoor dining reservation, you know, because we live in Minnesota so we feel guilty any time the weather is nice and we’re not outside.
The outdoor space is a quieter, more relaxed (if not basic) vibe than the bustling indoor space. Perfect for our purposes, but if you’re wanting more of a “wow factor” than the indoor area may be a little more fun/impressive.
As promised, the menu is a unique mix of Japanese and Italian (seriously!) which means a whole host of appetizers with mash-up concepts, pastas with fish-flavored twists, and pizzas with unique flavors.
So, we did what we do best. We invited some friends to help us sample as much of the menu as possible for you, dearest reader! (Oh, the sacrifices we make…)
Sanjusan brings a small but carefully selected mix of classy cocktails, wines, and sakes. (Sorry bros, no beer at this spot.)
I got Hanami, which was a gin-forward sipper that came with a heavy pour. I enjoyed it, and everyone else had equally nice things to say about the old-fashioned, the white wine, and even the orange wine!
Appetizers / Small Plates
We got a ton of appetizers, and I think this is where Sanjusan really shined. Narrowing down our choices was no easy task, and I left so impressed that I wanted to try even more!
Fried rice balls first blew our mind at The Bungalow Club. They’re traditionally an Italian food, but in the true spirit of Sanjusan’s concept, they mix it with all sorts of unique Japanese stables like enoki, Japanese egg, and furikake.
And I bet you didn’t expect the insides to look like this!
As a dish, this starter perfectly sums up what Sanjusan is all about. It was incredibly unique, and a must-order as far as I’m concerned.
The server promised that Sanjusan’s Pork Gyoza would change our lives, and he wasn’t kidding!
This is basically the most elevated gyoza you’ve ever had. I mean, they’ve even got wood ear mushrooms and foie gras, for goodness sake!
Luckily, this wasn’t just fanciness for the sake of fanciness. Those ingredients added a whole new dimension of flavor to gyoza that I’ve personally never experienced anywhere else.
This was the lighted, airiest, and crunchiest calamari I’ve ever seen. I particularly liked that it came with that red-shiso vinegar (tasted similar to a salty, soy-sauce like dipping sauce) and the tiny slices of jalapeno added the perfect spice for any heat-seekers in the group.
Crispy Sweet Potato
We actually didn’t even plan on ordering this one, but after our jealous eyes noticed it at another table, we knew we were helpless.
They aren’t kidding when they call these crispy! And our table really enjoyed the saucy but subtle bed of horseradish for slathering the potatoes into.
We actually ordered enough of the four skewer samplers to try every cut on the menu. To be honest, I don’t have any specific recommendations for you, because they were all fantastic.
As much as we are head-over heels with the pasta at Daniel del Prado’s other spots, we’d heard too much about the unique pizza options here. We were all in!
The Isaac Becker
Named after Bar La Grassa’s owner (remember, Daniel del Prado’s ties there) this is a crazy raw tuna pizza.
If you could have sushi pizza, this is it!
It totally blew me away, and everyone else had equally amazing thing to say. Another must-order.
Wow, imagine the most perfectly browned mushrooms you’ve ever come across, mixed with some warm, rich cheese and perfectly balanced with the smallest hint of lemon.
Another amazing pizza. (Lily actually said this was her favorite overall).
Not even sure what this was called, but I know the waiter described it as an apple/caramel/matcha mix. I described it as the best, most high-end caramel apple you’ve ever had. Loved it!
Italian and Japanese is a crazy combination, but Sanjusan knocks it out of the park.
Not only was everything that we tried just flat out delicious, but the unusual flavor profiles also makes this one of the most unique restaurants in the Twin Cities.
Daniel del Prado is on a roll, and Sanjusan is absolutely one of our favorite new restaurants in Minenapolis!
Roughly $13-16 appetizers, $15-25 pizzas/pastas
What’s the service like?
Full wait service.
Paid street parking (which is admittedly difficult to find) or paid valet. (Valet appears to range from $5-10, plus tip)
Do you need a reservation?
Definitely recommended, although it did look like a few people walked in.
33 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401