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Chef Ann Ahmed’s Upcoming Restaurant Has a Name Inspired by the Fragrant Sticky Rice of Northern Laos

Plus, a new Detroit-style pizza spot opens in the North Loop, and pastry chef Diane Moua pops up for Valentine’s Day

Rainbow rice and sakoo, a type of tapioca dumpling, on plates, with sauce and a lime wedge.
Rainbow rice and sakoo at chef Ann Ahmed’s restaurant Khâluna, soon to be followed by Gai Noi.
Caroline Yang for Eater
Justine Jones is the editor of Eater Twin Cities.

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine broke the news in December that chef Ann Ahmed — named a James Beard semifinalist just last week — was closing her restaurant Lemongrass in March of this year, and opening a new restaurant in the former 4Bells space on the edge of Loring Park. Now, that restaurant has a name: Gai Noi. According to an Instagram post Ahmed made yesterday, “Gai Noi” is an abbreviated version of khao gai noi, a kind of glutinous, short-grained rice that’s grown in the Xieng Khouang regions of northern Laos, where Ahmed’s family is from. Also called “little chick” thanks to its small, round shape, khao gai noi is known for its grain quality and aroma. “So important is sticky rice in the Lao culture, most Laotians refer to ourselves as ‘luk khao niew’, or ‘children of the sticky rice’, as sticky rice is the sustenance of our people; the central component of any meal and gathering,” Ahmed wrote.

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine reports that Gai Noi is slated to open by early summer. Ahmed is about to head out on a trip throughout Asia, so further details may be slow-coming, but keep an eye on the restaurant’s Instagram page for updates.

Bricksworth Beer Co. is bringing Detroit-style pizza from the suburbs to the North Loop

Burnsville restaurant Bricksworth Beer Co. is opening a second location in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood — the grand opening, in fact, is today, February 1. Bricksworth pairs craft beers with Detroit-style pizza, the rectangular, pan-baked style with a crispy cheese crust that’s been gaining local traction with the help of restaurants like Wrecktangle and Mario’s. Ingredient-wise, Bricksworth hews fairly close to classic Italian favorites: pepperoni, cremini mushrooms, prosciutto, anchovies, and mozzarella (though specials like Swedish meatball pizza and a “Minnesota sushi roll” break that trend). The restaurant serves chicken wings, too, and salad. It’s open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to midnight on weekends, adding a much-needed casual late-night spot to the area. Find it at 305 N. 5th Avenue, Suite 105.

Diane Moua pops up with Valentine’s Day pastries

Pastry chef Diane Moua officially departed Bellecour Bakery in December — what’s she up to now? While the James Beard nominee works toward her upcoming Hmong, Southeast Asian, and French-influenced restaurant, she’s also running a pastry pop-up. Moua kicked things off with holiday desserts in December; now she’s back with an assortment of Valentine’s Day desserts, including a layered raspberry and lychee cake, vanilla shortbreads, and a chocolate mousse cake topped with whole, chocolate-dipped strawberries. Orders are available for pick-up at Colita (5400 Penn Avenue South) on February 11, 13, and 14.