Bite of the Week: Vegan Szechuan Rice Bowl at Pat’s Tap

Szechuan Rice Bowl from Pat’s Tap // Photo by Tj Turner

Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.

The inaugural Twin Cities Vegan Chef Challenge is on, running from September 20 through October 20, pitting a host of local chefs against one another in a friendly competition to create the most popular (as decided by public vote) new vegan menu item. In the mix: the distinctly not-vegan-in-general Pat’s Tap on Nicollet Avenue. The restaurant is serving up a Szechuan Rice Bowl ($14) that packs an earthy wallop of flavor into a compact dish.

In contrast to many rice bowls, which are laden with rich sauce and heavy meat, the Pat’s Tap rice bowl is light to the point of being refreshing. Its brown basmati rice is delicate and fluffy and it’s liberally studded with vegetables including kale, daikon radish, carrots, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. The chunks of tofu that ride the bowl’s surface have a tea-like earthy depth of flavor and they add interest and contrast to the veg-studded grains of rice below. The broad term “Szechuan” is often used as a 1-for-1 stand-in for “spicy,” but this rice bowl is mellow and balanced, with a touch of spicy heat that accents its contents without overwhelming them.

Szechuan Rice Bowl from Pat’s Tap // Photo by Tj Turner

THE DISH: Szechuan Rice Bowl, $14

THE PLACE: Pat’s Tap, 3510 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis

THE REASON: A refreshing, comforting and nimble spin on a typical rice bowl