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Bask in the Southeast Asian Design of Hai Hai

Elements of Bali, Vietnam and Thailand mingle with the fresh design

A lot more light and a lot fewer dancing girls
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities

Hai Hai, the Asian street food restaurant from Hola Arepa’s owners Christina Nguyen and Birk Grudem is now open on 22nd Street and University Avenue in Minneapolis’ Northeast neighborhood. The restaurant was inspired by their vacations through Vietnam, Bali and Thailand. The room advertises that inspiration with giant fronded trees, vibrant wallpaper, splashes of turquoise, emerald green and a whole lot of of light.

For those who remember this address’ former tenant, a neighborhood bar with small section for topless dancers, the room is unrecognizable. Especially considering, there didn’t used to be much in the way of windows.

A long bar wraps its way around one side of the restaurant and that is where Grudem, who was one of the area’s top mixologists before starting Hola Arepa with his now-wife Nguyen, serves tropical beverages. The drink list includes drinks made with ingredients like mezcal, coconut water, lime-peanut orgeat, pisco, Saigon cinnamon and more. All are $9.

A thai iced tea garnished with purple basil
Garnish game on point
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities

The kitchen is overseen by Nguyen and that menu is a mix of snacks, small plates, vegetables and large plates. The most expensive item is a roasted fish with tumeric and dill for $15 and the least expense is a $6 egg roll with herbs, lettuce and nuoc cham. There is a wide selection of gluten free and vegetarian or vegan options, some are even both like the $6.50 salt and pepper tofu or the $9 Balinese cauliflower with coconut cream and lime leaf.

The brightly colored blue interior of Hai Hai, decorated with palm tree plants
Plenty of seats and light
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday beginning at 3 p.m. with a happy hour menu with limited food. All the food is then available starting at 5 p.m.

The turquoise and green wallpapered dining room at Hai Hai. Deep blue chairs are stationed at wooden tables and two orange and purple paper lanterns hang above them. Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities
Just look at all those comfy bar seats
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities
An alcoholic mix with Thai iced tea
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities
A rattan workout
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities
Hi, Hai!
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities

Hai Hai

2121 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418 Visit Website