"Gai Noi is the most noteworthy restaurant yet opened by the veteran Twin Cities chef Ann Ahmed, mainly because she has never leaned so hard into her native Lao cuisine," wrote Brett Anderson wrote. "If customers appear at ease dredging sticky rice through one of the four kinds of jeow, or chasing hot bites of laab with juicy morsels of shrimp flake-dusted watermelon, it has something to do with Ms. Ahmed and others who've been spreading Southeast Asian flavors across the metro area. Angle for a second-floor seat overlooking Loring Park, and settle in with a bracing, fruit-forward cocktail."
Ahmed is the chef/owner of Lat14 in Golden Valley and Khaluna on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis. Gai Noi is her fourth restaurant (she shuttered her first, Lemon Grass earlier this year). The restaurant is a celebration of the city she was born in, Luang Prabang in Laos. She used colors and decor to draw in the feeling she has when she returns to the place that inspires her.
In his recent review, Star Tribune restaurant critic Jon Cheng called Gai Noi's "unapologetically funky" green papaya salads a "revelation" and highly recommended the restaurant to readers.
When sharing the news with fans on social media, Gai Noi's account read, "We are so honored to be named one of the Top 50 Restaurants of 2023 by the New York Times. Chef Ann Ahmed is proud to be able to represent Minnesota and Lao cuisine."
Gai Noi opened in May 2023 in the former 4 Bells on Harmon Place, overlooking Loring Park in Minneapolis. The sprawling restaurant makes use of every corner of the lushly decorated building with a rooftop patio; a third floor, glass-topped dining room; special event space; and ground-level dining room and bar with front doors and windows that open to a small sidewalk patio. The restaurant recently added alley seating out back as well.
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., the restaurant (1610 Harmon Place, Mpls., gainoimpls.com) does not take reservations, with the exception of private events.