Twin Cities Chinese
As a frequent traveler to Asia I haven't been able to find much good authentic Chinese resturants at home. Any suggestions particularly in the east metro/St. Paul area?
This topic comes up often. As you probably have realized, the TC are better known for their SE Asian restaurants than for their Chinese. That said, there are a few places with good options, as well as a few standout places.
In your specified area, there is China Jen in Roseville. It is on the high end for the TC, but in, say, NYC, it would probably be considered C-. Anyway, it has things like soup dumplings, cold sesame noodles. There have been a bunch of posts on it lately, the most notable:
In the rest of the TC, there are a few good options. In the U area, there is Hong Kong Noodle (I am just too lazy to post all the links, etc., so maybe TDQ will come through for you :). In the Southwest area, there is Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington, which is especially great for seafood and dim sum. YangTze in SLP is hit or miss for dim sum lately, and I have never had a lunch or dinner there. Then there is my personal favorite, Tea House, in Plymouth, which is worth the trip. I particularly love their Chung King Chicken, and be sure to order off the authentic (smaller) menu.
Jun Bo recently opened and I have never been, but others rave. I think it is in Richfield.
I recently posted an update in Anne's Jun Bo thread here--I'm afraid I didn't really rave about it...
I have to confess that I've eschewed Twin Cities Chinese because I worried it would disappoint, so I haven't tried anything recently except Jun Bo and China Jen. I preferred the latter.
Here's a link to our recent China Jen discussion:
EDIT: Whoops! I realize Alice already posted a link to the China Jen discussion! I'm such a copy-cat! :)
Wherever you decide to eat, please do come back to this forum and let us know where you went, what you ate, and what you thought. This community thrives on feedback from folks like you. Enjoy!
re: The Dairy Queen
I just picked up a copy of the most recent edition of City Pages, and Dara did indeed rave about Jun Bo. I still stand by my report. However, I will concede that 1) I only went once and 2) I ordered dim sum very late in the evening, which is definitely not prime dim sum time.
Also, as an almost irrelevant tangent, I happened to be driving by Bui today: still closed. :(
Fish, your post reminds me of a poster from a couple years back who was specifically looking for the Chinese food that s/he remembered from childhood growing up in the Twin Cities. That person was looking for an "authentic" experience, too, but in this case, they were looking for authentic Americanized Chinese cuisine. Unfortunately, I can't find the thread anymore, although, here's a later thread that refers to it:
(Does anyone know where that person's first thread went? Did they ever post a follow-up? I'm very curious now.)
I agree that food doesn't have to be true to some kind of ideal to be delicious, but sometimes, you just have a craving for a specific kind of experience.
My top 3:
1. Mandarin Kitchen
2. Tea House
3. Shuang Cheng
The food at the first two places compares quite favorable the food I have had in Boston and NYC when I lived in those cities. in both instances you need to order from the more authentic menu.
I'm not sure what "authentic" Chinese food should taste like but I would suggest the Rainbow on Nicolette Avenue in Minneapolis. Growing up in the twin cities soured me on Chinese food until I was introduced to Rainbow. The ingrediants are always fresh. The menu has many items to choose from but is not overly expansive. I have been satisfied with everything that I have ordered.
Tea House, Tea House, Tea House!!!
Just went there for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it, loved it, loved it. Ordered from the "special menu," had the seriously amazing "Spicy Fish Fillet with Szechuan Peppercorns in Hot Sauce" and a great chicken & asparagus dish.
Then it's a short walk to the Willow Creek Theater for some stadium seating moviegoing...
Shaung Cheng, Seafood Palace, Mandarian Kitchen, 1st Wok and (I know I'm going to get flack for this) Big Bowl.
I didn't mention Tea House because the last few times I've been there, I've been disappointed - and that's depressing because it's less then a mile from my house.
Is Village Wok on University Ave. still there? Haven't been in that area for a long time but it was always the top spot for Chinese as evidenced by the sheer number of chinese university students in there.
Rainbow in Mpls. is also good. I ate at Shuang Cheng once and wasn't too impressed. I liked the food at Village Wok better.
If St. Paul is convenient, Grand Shanghai is pretty good, especially the noodle dishes and anything that's a daily special--great dry-cooked green beans and sea food. I've actually spotted big tables of Chinese families there, happily chowing down.
I also second the rec of Rainbow. If I lived in Minneapolis, I'd be there once a week.
We just had dinner at Grand Shanghai about two hours ago, and indeed did observe at least one big table encircled by a Chinese family, happily chowing down.
We asked the server what was "authentic" and she recommended the Schezuan eggplant and beef brisket hot pot. We went with both. The hot pot was terrific, with the brisket falling apart easily, and a very pretty presentation as well. The eggplant was also good, but not quite up to SF Bay Area equivalents which we've had.
Believe it or not, I was disappointed by... the white rice! I think we got the bottom of the rice cooker (crisped edges, etc.)
Overall, we'd definitely go back and try other dishes off their "specials" board.
I still think Shuang Cheng is overrated, and like Hong Kong Noodle and even Ping's better. I do like First Wok, but that's mostly because it's a good lunch place near where I work.
I've been so disappointed by Chinese in this town that I don't have much enthusiasm for anywhere in particular.
There is only one dish I remember there, and I THINK Diesel told us about it first, it is something like noodles with ginger and scallion, not the soup one but the stir fried one. It is sort of ineffable, there is nothing super special about it but once you have had it you want it again. It calls out to me like a siren. . .
I meant to make this a reply to Anne above, but forgot to hit reply, so Anne, this is for you re: Hong Kong Noodle!
Village Wok? Why doesn't anyone mention Village Wok? Wor Mein feeds 3-4 for $9. Singapore Rice Noodles, Iron Hot Beef...the appetizer menu sucks, but otherwise, a pretty good place.
Hong Kong Noodle has really nice Chow Fun with chinese sausage in XO sauce.
Mandarin Kitchen generally gets it right.
My Le Hoa on Rice street in Little Canada does a decent Dim Sum.
Tea House's Sichuan specialties are unique in MSP...and good if you like spicy food.
Grand Shanghai is the one I eat at most often, but that's because it's 3 blocks from my house, not because it's the best in town.
Shuang Cheng has always underwhelmed me. 1st Wok was a good place to eat lunch when I worked in Bloomington about 10 years ago.
Rainbow is too fusiony for my taste. Please save me from Big Bowl.
Actually Village Wok was mentioned. Also, My Le Hoa has new owners as of earlier this summer. The dim sum is now a buffet. Things might have changed since the last time people were there.
In the MSP Mag that came out yesterday, Andrew Zimmern reviews Jun Bo. It's a good read.