Hola Arepa owners bringing 'Southeast Asian street food' to Northeast

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What to expect from Hai Hai, the next joint venture from the owners that brought you Hola Arepa. Hai Hai website

The new tenant in the former Double Deuce space will probably not remind you of the divey, now-closed northeast Minneapolis strip club.

Well, maybe the name. And only if you speak Vietnamese.

The food and drink, however, will recall experiences Christina Nguyen and Birk Grudem had during trips they've taken to southeast Asia. Nguyen and Grudem, the couple behind Hola Arepa in south Minneapolis, were revealed last month as the next owners of the University Avenue building that formerly housed the 22nd Avenue Station (aka Double Deuce).

At the time, they kept quiet on what they'd be bringing north of the river. Another arepa shop, maybe? 

Turns out, they're taking their cues from another hemisphere. Called Hai Hai -- Vietnamese for "two two," a sly nod to the building's strip club past -- the new venture will be a "Southeast Asian street food restaurant and bar," according to a skeletal but enticing promo website, which only just went live.

Hai Hai will feature more than just usual Asian standards, according to the site, and will instead "shine the spotlight on some lesser known delicious regional dishes," plus a few new ones Nguyen's come up with on her own. 

The description continues:

"During their most recent trips to Southeast Asia, Christina & Birk (the duo behind Hola Arepa) searched down winding streets to find alleyway food oases, followed the smell of charred meats & smoke to the grills they came from, had unforgettable meals at street food stalls next to roaring traffic, went on scavenger hunts for specialties at local markets, pulled up short stools at sidewalk cafés & ordered whatever the people next to them were having. They tried it all so they could bring with them the best dishes & most inspiring flavors for you to enjoy back home."

And that's all you'll get for now in the way of details, but the pictures here -- of big, bright dishes and pretty little cocktails -- are enough to keep Northeast mouths watering until "fall 2017," which is when Hai Hai's site says the new restaurant will open.

Stay tuned for details. We'll keep you posted.


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