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Aug 9, 2003 03:06 AM

Minneapolis: A Very Disappointing Trip To Rainbow Chinese

  • m

Rainbow Chinese restaurant on Eat Street-- Nicollet Ave just north of Lake Street-- has been touted for several years as the top or one of the top chinese eateries in the twin cities. good reviews when they opened and Best Of awards from City Pages weekly. tried it for the first time tonight and was UNDER whelmed. especially my chinese wife, originally from Hong Kong, who is knowlegable about cantonese cuisine. the food seemed to have been cooked by non chinese "Gweilos" for other non chinese. indeed there were few chinese in a full room and that to me is always a bad sign in a chinese rest. we exchanged one dish whose menu description was way off from what they actually served but that only helped things marginally. if this is a Best Of, then the Twin Cities Chinese rest. scene is dismal. and it may be true that the local Vietnamese scene is far better. I would like to try My Le Hoa in Little Canada but that is about the only chinese place that intrigues out there. MAYBE the A team in the kitchen was off on summer vacation. Maybe this is an example of a restaurant getting lazy and complacent once they develop a reputation. would like to see the local critics go back to update their impressions.

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  1. Even as long ago as 1999, My Le Hoa was leagues better than Rainbow. I always chalked up Rainbow's popularity to the strong (though not necessarily spoken aloud) Twin Cities sentiment for old-timey Chinese-American food. This style most certainly has its place, but those expecting something else might be disappointed.
    I do remember Rainbow having strong mixed drinks, a pretty nice setting, and active fish tanks.

    1. j
      Jim Grinsfelder

      Have you tried The Teahouse on Shelard Parkway? They have a sichuan menu with some really good food. You have to ask specifically for the sichuan menu.

      A chinese friend of mine who happens to be a pretty good cook told me it was, in his opinion, the best chinese food in town.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Jim Grinsfelder

        I've been to Rainbow Chinese twice in the past decade, back when I first came to the Twin Cities and then most recently with my wife. Not much has changed. Basically mediocre Chinese American food and high prices. Just don't understand why it's always so highly rated.

        Now the Teahouse is a different story. It's become standard fare for business lunches since I work out on the western half of the Cities. But when we go out as a family, we go to Teahouse East, 94 off White Bear Ave. It's a different menu and very different cooking style. The dan dan noodles blows away the one they serve in Golden Valley. It's a long drive but one I'm glad to make every single time.

        Can't comment on the buffet. I'm Chinese and never tempted to try it.

        1. re: discus

          I like it there but it might be the kid of place I go DESPITE the food (there is another thread on this board about those places). It is certainly "Chinese-American" food. But it's actually kind of a "nice" restaurant and they have a full liqour license and there are very few Chinese places like that in the Twin Cities. I mean it's not in a strip mall, they have a cool fish tank it's nicely decorated, they never have a buffet. (Of course I used to go to Nankin for more than just Wanderer's Punch too). I had an odd experience last time I went there however. I didn't really look at the menu and ordered the Orange Peel Chicken which I've probably had 50 times and the waitress said "Well OK as long as you promise not to send it back." WTF?

          Is there any Chinese place in the Twin Cities that might qualify as a "nice" restaurant? I certainly don't mind finding a whole in the wall or something in the strip mall but sometimes if we're meeting another couple or something we like to have cockails (wine doesn't go with Chinese Food too well) and expect a certain level of aesthetics. (I might sound like a snob there but it's not only about the food certain places serve certain purposes)

          1. re: mnitchals

            Azia might be a good example of a "nice" Chinese restaurant. Not that it is super Chinese or authentic, it is very nice.

            1. re: churchka

              I would agree that the ambience is nice, but the food is average. Also beware of the sushi options. Here's another thread about it:


      2. Try instead Evergreen down the street on 24th and Nicollet - the owners/chefs are Taiwanese. The food rates with the stuff I had in NYC's Chinatown.

        It's in the basement of a little strip mall, so it's sorta easy to miss. It's worth it, though.

        Evergreen Chinese Restaurant
        2424 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

        1 Reply
        1. re: pgokey

          Second that one, the food is incredible there. Rainbow Chinese would be one of my last picks on Eat Street.