Satay 2 GO
With nothing in common but uncommonly good food, two far-flung wonders are revealed
Satay 2 Go promises to hook the southern suburbs on nasi lemak, laksa, and other Singapore-style treats
Image by Tony Nelson
by Dara Moskowitz
March 9, 2005
Satay 2 Go Asian Cuisine
6670 150th St. W., Apple Valley
SATAY 2 GO
When Greg, Chicago transplant and Apple Valley resident, wrote to recommend Satay 2 Go, I thought,
"Oh heavens, that is really far away." It's so far away, it's even farther away than the zoo. Because, as you
all know, the world as seen from Minneapolis looks like this: There's Minneapolis, then the Mall of America,
the zoo, Iowa, Texas, some water, South America, and finally Antarctica, with the penguins. Well, driving a
third of the way to the penguins is a heck of a journey for satay. Even though Greg assured me that the
restaurant was "2 good 2 miss," I determined it would have 2 w8. Yet when Alice, unrelated to Greg and
also of Apple Valley, wrote to tell me how great Satay 2 Go was, I knew I had to motor on out: Two reader
recommendations are, in my experience, the earthly equivalent of a bolt of lightning to the head.
I ended up outside of the Home Depot in Burnsville, peering with confusion at the low buildings that crouch
in its orbit and the obscuring rings of SUVs around them.
I later ended up outside of the Home Depot in Apple Valley, peering with confusion at the low buildings that
crouch in its orbit and the obscuring rings of SUVs around them. But this, this was completely different.
This was the home of Satay 2 Go.
I entered the little storefront with its lemon walls, its bakery case full of fresh-made golden pork buns,
chicken curry buns, yam crescents, and more. I saw half a dozen fellow Minnesotans waiting silently,
staring with absolute unblinking absorption at the orange-curtained cooking window that let forth the clatter
and hiss of wok cooking. They looked like nothing so much as six cats staring at the one radiator that they
know conceals a mouse. At that moment I knew I had found something enormously important.
I consulted the various laminated color printouts that make up Satay 2 Go's menu. I ordered noodles,
curry, satay--the works. By the time I got to my car, I was tearing into the chicken satay, sweetly marinated
tender chicken skewers served with an ebullient sauce of ground peanuts and flowery rice vinegar served
on a bed of fragrant, liltingly light coconut rice. By the time I reached Cedar Avenue, I was sneaking
slithery chow fun noodles out of a box, with my hands, and determining that these were easily the best
chow fun in the state. (Satay 2 Go is just east of Cedar, on 150th Street South. Not west. East. East.
Rhymes with feast. Don't forget, or you will be sorry. And even if you are not sorry, you will be in Burnsville,
which is disorienting at best.)
By the time I got all my boxes home and could look at them in the clear light, with a fork, I became
completely convinced that Satay 2 Go has the best Singapore hawker-stand food in the state. You see, in
Malaysia and in Singapore, which broke away from Malaysia nearly 40 years ago, a lot of the best food
doesn't come from tablecloth restaurants, it comes from stalls called "hawker stands," informal spots that
specialize in one or two treats derived from any (or all) of the Asian cultures that have fed the Malaysian
population. In these hawker stands you'll find Chinese noodles, Malay grilled satay, Indonesian curries,
Indian breads, Peranakan fusion (Malay plus Chinese), Japanese snack foods, and so forth. At Satay 2
Go, you'll find the same sort of informal, cheap, and delicious foods you'd find at Malaysian hawker stands:
Chinese noodles, Malay grilled satay, and so on. Yes, I said there is a Singapore hawker stand restaurant
in Apple Valley.
Better yet, almost everything I've tried from the place is just great. Chief among the joys was the nasi
lemak, a sweet but pointedly spicy coconut curry made with potato and chicken, and served with a creamy
coconut rice ($6.50). This concoction was just lovely, so big, spicy, feisty, and balanced by the sweet
cream of all that coconut that it reminded me almost of an ice cream of sun-heat, so big and unto itself.
The Singapore chow fun ($6.99) was another treat. Here, pale, wide rice noodles were worked in a wok
with scallions, bean sprouts, bits of marinated chicken, shrimp, and soy-darkened scrambled egg until the
whole thing became united in one glossy, satiny web of salt and savor. The mee goreng ($6.50) was a
similar treatment of thin, curly, hearty egg noodles transformed into the most munchable of comforts.
Laksa ($7.99) is perfect takeout. Order it and you get one large container of sweet coconut curry broth,
and another of noodles, shredded chicken, and bean sprouts. Combine it all in a bowl in your own home
and you'll get many of the benefits that accrue to those lucky folks with Singapore vacation packages,
without the trouble of finding someone to mind the cat and shovel the walk.
I didn't love absolutely everything at Satay 2 Go. I could live without the Cantonese chow fun, smoky chow
fun noodles submerged in a gummy egg-and-shrimp soup, and I've always thought okonomiyaki (from
$5.99) is an acquired taste (however, if you are a Japan-o-phile who has acquired a taste for that prized
Japanese junk food, which is something like a noodle quiche topped with mayonnaise and
Worcestershire-like okonomiyaki sauce, well, if you have that taste, please know you finally have
somewhere in the state to satisfy it).
This marvelous little restaurant is the work of Corinne Tan, a woman with intense wok skills, an ability to
turn rice noodles into silk, and a schedule that would bring tears to the eyes of a hardhearted man. Satay
2 Go is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. six days a week, but closed Sundays. Have you ever asked
yourself, "Why can't a visit to the Home Depot be more like a night among the tropical hawker stands of
Singapore?" Well, actually, it is. Gentlemen, start your engines.