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MSP: Little Szechuan is back!

We ate at Little Szechuan this afternoon, Monday, 1/15/07, 4pm. They are open again!

Rejoice everyone, for the wait was worth it! We had eggplant with garlic sauce, chung king spicy shrimp, and green beans with special sauce. Everything was *amazing*. They haven't missed a beat. The shrimp was light and fluffy, super spicy but not too hot (if that makes sense). Eggplant was almost molten, subtle, sweet, not bitter at all. Green beans were grilled/sauteed/whatever to smokey perfection.

While we were there, at least a few other tables came in and were also openly very excited about being there. Everyone was literally thanking the owners for re-opening! I almost wanted to ask any of them if they read chowhound!

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  1. Hurray! I'm so glad they are back in the groove. Was it apparent what changes they made, or was it all apparently behind the scenes kind of stuff?


    2 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      I didn't notice any particular changes -- but I was mostly paying attention to the food.

      1. re: Chris Mitra

        Well, as long as the green beans are still awesome, that's okay with me.


    2. Oh, I'm so happy! Mr. Tastebud and I went for dinner last night, and it was as good as I remembered. (I had only been there once before they closed.)

      We had pork slices with garlic sauce, scallops with chili peppers, and the awesome green beans (and they are, too!).

      The pork like nothing I've ever had before - thin pork cold cuts topped with a thick, rich, dark sauce (cold) and sitting in a pool of chili oil. It reminded me of marinated cucumbers, though it didn't taste cucumbery. It was very rich, and there was a lot, so this would be better to share with a group.

      The scallops were fabulous - crispy, spicy, fried yumminess. There were sweet red peppers in the dish, as well as tons of tiny dried peppers. This was a very spicy dish (it's marked with one pepper on the menu).

      And the green beans were indeed awesome - and not spicy, which made them a good foil for the scallops.

      What a wonderful meal! I left in a happy cloud of endorphins (or whatever it is that hot peppers do to my brain when I eat them).



      1. Hey, I was there for dinner last night, too! I was swiveling my head around wondering if there were any fellow 'hounds in the room (this was around 7 p.m.).

        It was my first trip to LS -- I'd been eagerly awaiting the reopening and was not disappointed. We had the bamboo shoots with chili oil (ADDICTIVE), squid hot pot (nice spicy broth with loads of garlic/ginger/scallions/red chili oil, plus a generous amount of squid and soft tofu) and scallops cooked with sugar & vinegar (never had this before but thought the sauce was terrific -- and there were close to a dozen large scallops on the plate).

        The service was very attentive; I counted six servers in the room at one point, and there were maybe eight tables of diners. I am so pleased to have this restaurant in my neighborhood!

        8 Replies
        1. re: mcgeary

          We didn't get there until about 15 minutes before 9, when they close (on weekdays), but they graciously let us eat there. So nice of them! We were prepared to do take-out, as we knew we were cutting things very close.

          We got to watch the happy staff having dinner after all the other patrons left; I wanted to ask what they were having, but I was too busy stuffing my face with those green beans.


          1. re: AnneInMpls

            I love those green beans. I almost went for lunch today to get some, but, it was a little too far out of my way. What is it they put in those that's so addicting!

            Anne, how's the service? I'm assuming good enough that it's no longer distracting? (No one's mentioned it...) Or, are we just so happy to have the great chow back?


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              The service was great last night - lots of servers - and we got our food really fast (I think the staff wanted to eat their dinner...).

              But the service was also very good on my first visit, which was on a weeknight. I suspect that the service problems were on the weekends, when they were mobbed. This could possibly happen again as the word gets out about their re-opening.

              So you should go tonight! :-)


              1. re: AnneInMpls

                HA! I promised Alice I would wait two weeks (waiting for the crowds to die down.) I don't know if I can keep my promise...


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  There were no crowds at 8:30 last night... When we arrived at 8:45, only 5 tables (out of about 25) were occupied.

                  I think that spicy Szechuan food would taste great on a snowy Minnesota evening! :-)


                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    Okay, but nobody tell Alice I'm going back on my promise to wait two weeks. :)

                    Seriously, I can't wait to go back. But, I can't decide whether I should copycat Chris Mitra's meal or Anne's or mcgeary's...they all sound great!


            2. re: AnneInMpls

              Which green bean dish are you folks so happy with? There are a few on the menu and next time I'm in, I'd like to try the same one as you. Thanks!

              1. re: L Hoff

                Green beans with special sauce. They have a list of vegetable dishes at the back of the menu.

                Also, has anyone noticed that there seem to be 2 menus? The black one (the authentic one?) and the other one?


          2. I'll also add that I get a headache from certain Chinese restaurants which I'm assuming is a reaction to MSG yet that didn't happen at Little Szechuan. And I'm totally addicted to the bamboo shoots!

            1. I think the addictive note is szechuan peppers (not hot peppers, but little dried pods from a pepper plant). Not available in the United States without looking and looking (I special order mine) and outright banned for import for a few years there becuase they were infected by a nonnative fungus (or something. quite widely reported and googlable).

              It's not MSG, it's just the perfect mix of seasoning we're not used to but immediately become addicted to..and also the heat!! Peppers can cause an endorphin rush, after all.


              5 Replies
              1. re: jeanmt

                Are you talking about the little devils called "Szechuan peppercorns"? Are they available again?

                  1. re: ibew292

                    Coolio! Thanks for the reference.

                  2. re: L Hoff

                    I believe that Penzy's is carrying them. I bought a small jar a few weeks ago, and based on the advice of Chowhounds, I am going to toast them in a frying pan this weekend.

                  3. re: jeanmt

                    United Noodle sells Szechuan peppercorns - I bought a bag about 2 months ago. They're near some other spices near the back corner of the store (near the ramen aisles).

                  4. Thanks for all the tips, folks!

                    1. just went last night. We got potstickers for chowbaby and they are actually more like pan-fried dumplings in that the skin is much thicker than what I think of as pot-stickers. Excellent, of course. Then the kung pao shrimp which is as Paz says, a perfect dish. The boneless chung king chicken was super spicy and great. The stringbeans had an interesting effect on me: last night when we got them, I appreciated them intellectually as a great dish, but did not really enjoy them that much. Consequently there are a lot left today, and the day after, I love them like crazy! They are perfect cold.
                      Most of the service kinks seem to be worked out as well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: AliceS

                        Well, we went back again, Saturday night. The whole place was packed (mostly with Chinese families, which is always a great sign). Despite the crowd, we still had good service; both our waiter and the hostess were pretty attentive to us.

                        We went with some friends, so we tried a few more dishes. I remembered Alice's description of the pot-stickers, so we got them (steamed version) -- fresh, simple, and a great start. We also tried the green peppers with potatoes (which is listed under "vegetables" but contained 90% potatoes). It was very different than anything I've had before, sort of julienned potatoes and peppers in a light oil with some salt -- also simple, but still very good. One other dish which was different was the fish fillet with vinegar and sugar(?). The fish was flakey and lightly battered... really nice mix of flavors without being overly sweet. Since this was on the "authentic" menu, I wonder if this dish is the origin of "sweet-and-sour" many years ago?

                        One other interesting thing to note was that our bill was 10% off due to their "grand opening." Apparently this special runs the entire month.

                      2. Had lunch there yesterday with a friend. He has the vegetarian fried rice and vegetarian lo mein off the green menu. I went for the green beans in special sauce and crispy spicy chicken off the black menu. The green beans were very, very good, but I've had better. The chicken dish, however, was simply amazing. Hot, but not overpowering, crisp, but not breaded. Simply excellent. I have to go back with my wife and get a little adventurous with the hot pots or seafood dishes.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Nathan_1118

                          That crispy spicy chicken sounds lovely! I will have to put that on my list of things (along with the potstickers, fish fillet with vinegar, green pepper+potatoes, and chung king chicken and kung pao shrimp) to try at L.S. I love those green beans, I couldn't stop picking at them through-out dinner--but you've had better? In the Twin Cities (better yet, in St. Paul?)? If so, I'd love to know where, because I'll bet I'd love those, too!


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Actually they're typically indian spicy green beans, I love the ones at Sambol and Tandoor. I love the curry and pepper flavor over the garlic of the szechuan beans at LS. I actually liked the Big Bowl green beans better as a spicy green bean. However, if you weren't looking for spicy green beans, the LS ones are outstanding.

                            1. re: Nathan_1118

                              Oh, I'm always open to spicy! I might have to try the ones at Sambol and Tandoor. Thanks for the tip!


                        2. I was here Saturday and want people to stop saying how good it is. Otherwise it will get overrun with gringos.

                          The one dish we had that was outstanding was Pork with garlic sauce. The dan dan noodles were also top notch.


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: justhans

                            >> Otherwise it will get overrun with gringos.

                            Hey! I resemble that remark!

                            I'm a gringo, and I plan to overrun Little Szechuan all by myself, as often as I can. I need to try everything on the menu.


                          2. Not even sure what the point of adding more kudos to LS is, but I am compelled. We went last night with a group of 10. Let's see if I can remember everything:
                            Pot Stickers, great
                            Fish with brown bean sauce: not super spicy, melt in your mouth delicious
                            Beans with Special Sauce: not my favorite, but still very good
                            Crispy Spicy Chicken: as recommended on this board, and my new favorite dish. Amazing!
                            Lamb with Cumin: did not get to try, but Paz says it was amazing
                            Chun King Shrimp: great as usual
                            Chun King Chicken: ditto (get the boneless, the with bones is apparently like "shards of glass" according to poivre)
                            Shrimp with Salt and Pepper: a little bit of a meh, but still good
                            Dan Dan Noodles: great
                            Kung Pao Shrimp: described as clouds of shrimp by a co-diner, a perfect dish
                            Also got the 10% off, and they did not add the tip even tho we were such a big group.
                            Here is the icing on the cake: the 2 chowbabies wanted dessert so we asked what they had. They looked a little dubious at first, then offered chocolate cake, we said fine, they brought out these lovely little chocolate squares, one for each girl. So nice.
                            The only bad part: the service is spotty. We waited a long time for water, etc, even to see a waiter. It was hard to get refills on water. Once the order was in, things went find, but you need to push at first.

                            1. We were there last night too (and did I spot TDQ as she was leaving?). We also got the 'greatest hits', the cucumber and bamboo shoots appetizers, dan dan noodles, chung king shrimp, eggplant in garlic sauce, and the green beans in special sauce. Everyone in our group was thrilled with the food. I will say, the saltiness got to me by the end. The shrimp especially were more salty than spicy. Next time I'd probably add the Ma Po Tofu or something that is definitely spicy and doesn't rely as much on salt for flavor.

                              Service was also an issue for us. My husband and I got there before the group, planning to order an appetizer and drinks while we waited. The staff ignored us for about 20 minutes so we were a full table by the time anyone paid attention to us. Everytime we wanted to order, get refills, etc. I needed to stare down the waitstaff. They also screwed up splitting the bill on 2 credit cards but managed to void it out and do it again. The food was served very quickly though.

                              In the future I probably won't go on a Saturday night and might modify my ordering a bit because of the saltiness issue.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: katebauer

                                Yes, Kate, that was probably me. I can't believe I missed seeing you! I can be a space case, sometimes, in my own little world. Sorry about that. I would have loved to have said hi to you (and hear more about Thailand!)

                                Also, I did notice the large party, which I'm now guessing was Alice's, that was eating while we were waiting to be seated. I remember when the waiter brought the cumin dish to their table because the fragrance wafted past. It smelled fabulous. I also noticed the two little pieces of layered chocolate cake--they almost looked like petit fours--as they went by and wondered what the story was.

                                We got the green beans, which we still love, as well as the chung king shrimp, and the pork spare-ribs in garlic. I really loved the texture of the shrimp--crunchy on the outside and tender & juicy on the inside. I didn't notice the salty flavor of the shrimps as I was mostly noticing that my lips were stinging from the chilis. The pork spare ribs in garlic were fine, not exceptional. I'm sure they will be great re-heated though.

                                I agree that the service is still slow. Watching them bus tables is painful: the servers do it themselves. I watched one gal attempt to bus a table that was at the far end of the dining room by taking two bowls at a time. After she took a trip or two, someone else came and took the rest of the dishes. None of them had a bus cart or a tub or anything. Yet another person came to wipe the table down, and then someone else came and replaced the paper, which they decided was the wrong size, so they replaced it again. It made me wonder if the servers were almost stalling, perhaps to cover for the real back-up which might be the kitchen. We peeked in the kitchen on the way out--it looks like there were four people cooking? I'm not sure if that is a lot or not. Anyway, we love this place, but will probably become weeknight regulars, or, weekend lunch/early dinner diners because it's clear they struggle with the full-house they're getting on Friday & Saturday for dinner.

                                I wish they had white wines on the wine list.

                                Alice, you'll have to come to one of the chowdowns so that we can know what each other look like so we can recognize each other.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  I spotted you as you were walking out, and by the time I got over my suprise you were gone. We also noticed the staff struggling with resetting that table towards the back. On the wine issue, one of our friends asked what red wines they had and the waiter said, "red" but it seems they had multiple types on their wine rack. They also ran out of Tsingtao beer toward the middle of our meal.

                                  I just checked in with my husband on the saltiness issue and he agreed that the shrimp were really the only thing that were hurt by the saltiness, everything else was enhanced. Perhaps we got an oversalted bunch of them.

                              2. My wife and I were there last night too. It was great, but our entrees came out before our appetizers, which I was upset about. But the food was great, and I could put up with the spotty service since it's friendly. But if I were in a hurry, it would be a problem.

                                1. I wasn't going to add my two cents, b/c my DH and I didn't order anything different from what others had already recommended, but I'll chime in.

                                  We had the pork with garlic sauce and the crispy chicken. I would say the chicken's saltiness grew tiresome, as we shared it btw the two of us, but it really was good, and I just loved the pork dish.

                                  As for the service, we were in somewhat of a hurry, it was Wed night at 6:20ish when we arrived and we needed to be somewhere by 7:30. Given the fact that there were less than 10 tables, the food came fast, but we sat there, with our menus for upwards of 10 mins, and the servers just don't seem to 'look around'. I don't think they have assigned sections, so their attentiveness on the whole is lacking. The check took a long time to get and then get rung up.

                                  We will definitely go back, but will for sure steer clear of the Fri/Sat night. Can't wait to try a bunch of new things. I would fur sure go to a Chowdown if it worked with my schedule.


                                  1. WHERE is this place? I am eager to try it! YUM sounding!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Abacus


                                      it is on University in St. Paul a little east of Dale, near Mai Village.

                                    2. Do most folks like Little Szechuan more, less, the same as Tea Garden over near Willow Creek theaters? I've eaten there twice - once off the special Szechuan menu (wonderful, wonderful, wonderful) and once off the American - (awful, awful, awful).
                                      Any comparisons? I look forward to trying LS

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Abacus

                                        I enjoy Little Szechaun more than the Tea House (which I do like a lot). Maybe my perception is wrong but there seem to be more choices at LS. Additionally, there are many chocies that aren't drowning in chilli oil, which is all I seemed to find at Tea House. Finally, the last two times I was at Tea House the Ma Po Tofu seemed really off, soapy tasting. The last time we were there I asked the staff if perhaps something was wrong and they said no, without offering to make me a new one or substitute something else. The Ma Po Tofu at LS is absolutely amazing and not at all reminicent of soap.

                                        1. re: katebauer

                                          another thing I think makes LS better than TH is that the non-authentic menu items are LS are still great, made with love and care. For example, the sesame chicken was divine!

                                        2. re: Abacus

                                          I posted this quite a few months ago but I'll post it again:
                                          I haven't been to Little Szechuan yet, but...
                                          Something has changed at Tea House. The food (for me) has changed for the worse. I first started going there about a year or two ago and loved it. The food was sublime. About 6-8 months ago, the food went from sublime to mediocore (imo). I tried on several different occasions but still not good. So, I stopped going there. I don't know if they're too busy, got a new chef, lost a chef, or whatever. And it's really a bummer because Tea House is about a mile from my house. And I also agree with katebauer about the drowning in chili oil comment. I like spicy food also, but not when it overpowers the entire dish and you can't taste anything else.

                                          thanks for the rec of Little Szechuan. I'll have to try it one of these days.

                                          1. re: bluesman13

                                            Heard this from my Mom..one of the chef from Tea House moved to open Little Sichuan, that's why you taste the difference.

                                        3. This is the 3rd time I am posting this, not sure why it keeps getting taken down, but in brief: please recommend vegetarian options at LS for tomorrow night, I was thinking about the eggplant in garlic sauce but am concerned about surreptitious meat, like a broth type of thing. The green beans I don't think are hearty enough for a meal.
                                          To the moderators: if you delete this again, could you please tell me why, I honestly have no idea what is wrong with this post.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: AliceS

                                            no suggestions from anyone? Really hoping for some ideas!

                                            1. re: AliceS

                                              Don't know if this is too late, but here are some options that I have had. From the appetizers:
                                              The cucumbers, the bamboo shoots and especially the cold spicy Szechuan noodles are all excellent. From the mains, definitely the Szechuan style tofu and the potato dish. There are several other options that are vegetarian as well.

                                            2. So confused........so, I drive to Surdyk's - get my wine for the weekend - then drive over to Little Szcheuan because I have been reading about all of your favs and guess what? It is closed ...on a Thursday evening (6PM)........I wanted to die......I nearly ran out of gasoline, tailgated from the entire rush hour drive on University discussing all the possibilities of our dinner to find a closed restaurant. I should have called even though the website site showed it was to be open. Any ideas? Sigh......we ate at a great Chinese place in Dinkytown, next to Varsity Theatre.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Abacus

                                                after all this, I went tonight and yes, it was closed! What is going on?

                                              2. Well, Bluesman13, we DIDN'T have dinner together tonight! So disappointing, yes???

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Abacus

                                                  I was GOING to go last night, but was running a little too late and decided I should skip it all together. Sounds like I was the lucky one, in that I didn't end up going out of my way just to be disappointed.

                                                  These Little Szechuan folks are starting to seem like giant flakes, though. The perpetual kitchen remodelling, and, now, random mid-week closings. Do they expect us to call ahead every single time we want to eat there? Was there no sign on the window, perhaps, saying there was a private party or some kind of emergency? Anything? Geez, how frustrating. I'm sorry this happened to you Abacus and Bluesman13. I love the food at Little Szechuan, but golly, there's no point in loving the food if they can't keep their doors open.

                                                  Well, I just looked at their website and it plainly says they're open on Thursdays, 11am-9pm. There's no mention on their website of a special closure last night. Here's their phone number, should you want to call ahead next time: Tel: (651) 222-1333


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    no apology necessary, Dairy Queen. The great thing about the location is that there are so many other restaurants close by. We walked down the block and tried Krua Thai for the first time.

                                                2. So. how was Krua Thai? We saw it but ended up just driving over to Dinkytown for a Chinese place next to the Varsity Club. I am determined, however, to make it to LS and call next time.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Abacus


                                                    I read a few threads here about Krua, so I wanted to give it a try. First off, it's very "homey" inside. We were the only ones there except for another foursome that showed up as we did at Little Szechuan.

                                                    I ordered Pad Thai and the Thai soup that is Sour and Spicy (I don't know the name of it). I ordered it mild. If that soup was the mild version, I don't think I want to taste the regular version! The soup was very good though. The Pad Thai was also good (I thought). Not the best I've ever had, but it had a nice homey, warm quality. Someone else posted that they thought the Pad Thai was too sweet and one dimensional flavor wise. I agree, but even just a squirt of lime would have added a really nice flavor.

                                                    Was the restaurant where you ate called "Lotus" or "Jasmine"?

                                                  2. Hey Bluesman13, thanks for the review of Krua. I was so disappointed about LS being closed and nearly out of gasoline that I turned around and headed back towards home (NW Mpls) and stopped at Shuang Cheng Restaurant at 1320 Fourth St SE. It's always a great stop. There are limited appetizers but we started with cream cheese wantons that were so huge they looked like golf balls with wings. They were hot, greasy and delicious - but the best part was dinner. I had seafood with chow fun noodles, flat, fried noodles topped with shrimp, scallops and squid along with some greens. My dinner mate had mock duck with black bean sauce, also with chow fun noodles - that dish was deeply flavored. Plus, it was so cold outside that we went through two pots of hot tea.

                                                    1. We may get take-out from LS tonight. We've never been. Husband will coming back from that way and I might be getting a cold so spicy sounds perfect! (I always imagine a cold can be sort of spiced out of you..)

                                                      I think I know what the must get dishes are but here's what I'm thinking (oh there's four of us including a teenage boy who eats stunning amounts of food..)

                                                      Green Beans w/special sauce
                                                      Crispy Spicy Chicken
                                                      Pork w/garlic sauce
                                                      chung King shrimp
                                                      House fried rice
                                                      Hot and sour soup (Is their's good?)

                                                      also anyone tried thier crispy duck? Husband usually likes that..

                                                      So does that sound good? Or way too much? should we get another vegetable type thing maybe?

                                                      1. What happens If I didn't absolutely love it? I didn't get a response to my above post so here's what
                                                        we got: Chung King Shrimp-It was very good and had perfect heat and texture I liked the fact that it was breaded but not like a doughnut very light and not greasy. Unfortunately it was sooo salty. Almost inedibly so. If it didn't have all the other great things going for it we probably would have left it. They were out of one dish we ordered so they substituted what I think was Garlic pork.This was unmemorable and seemed like something that might be in a buffet. The Crispy Spicy Chicken was also very good. This was also perfectly cooked and crispy not at all soggy (like a similar Leann Chin dish we all kept comparing it too I think they call it emperor's chicken)

                                                        We also got the Green Beans w/special sauce. Unfortunately I expected alot from these because of this board. We thought they were pretty much just green beans. They had a slightly smoky szechuan flavor that was interesting but I didn't notice any sauce. My son commented he likes the Monte Carlo greenbeans better (He's loved them since he was little so we make a version of it at home pretty often) We also had fried rice (dried out and tasteless..anyone remember sung chung Deli downtown mpls? it was kind of where the Target center is now..The best fried rice ever best everything else too but that's not fair becuase it's gone. I think it was contonese rather than szechuan.) We also had Dan Dan noodles. I had high expectations for these because the ones Rainbow chinese have are my absolute favorite. I used to get them 3-4 times a month. The ones at LS were cold (that's fine you can have them either way) but the sauce had no sesame flavor and the sauce was just caky. The noodles were mushy rather than nice and springy like the Rainbow ones. Somehow w/the rainbow ones they're able to serve them cold and the sauce remains silky and coats the noodles perfectly too..

                                                        So, a couple caveats. This was take out (the woman on the phone was friendly and helpful by the way) I'm not sure if that would make a difference. And I'm getting a cold so that may have affected
                                                        my taste a little. Sorry..maybe it was an off night or something. I've had mind-alteringly good szechuan before so I may have had inflated expectations.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: cherrylime

                                                          What happens if you didn't absolutely love it? Well, you respectfully post your impressions exactly as you have! The diversity of opinion is what keeps us all thinking critically about food, and keeps us all aware of the latest developments in case a restaurant is going down (or up)hill. So, thank you for sharing, even if you don't agree. :) Also, as far as I know, you're the first person to post about your LS take-out experience, so this is really helpful information.

                                                          I believe Kate Bauer posted above that she, too, found the Chung King Shrimp too salty. I didn't find it salty when I had it at the restaurant--I was more focused on the texture at its peak, which I thought was exceptional, and the chile-hot-heat that left my lips stinging. :) But, I did notice that the next day, when I heated it up for leftovers, it seemed saltier. Maybe this is one of those dishes that you have straight out of the kitchen so you can appreciate the exceptional texture and, therefore, was not a good choice for take-out.

                                                          AliceS posted that she also didn't especially love the green beans, but enjoyed them as leftovers (cold, I think) the next day. I still love them and will probably continue to order them. You're right though, there's really no sauce on them, and the description on the menu might lead to disappointment if you're a person who expect something, well, saucier. I'm not usually a fan of sauces, so maybe that's part of the appeal of them for me.

                                                          I had previously ordered (and posted about) the garlic pork ribs, I don't know if that's what you had, but wasn't crazy about them, either.

                                                          Thanks for sharing!


                                                        2. Yup, I also found the chung king shrimp too salty. I'm looking forward to trying the kung pow (sp?) shrimp at the chowdown to see if that works better for me.

                                                          I think where LS shines is in the appetizers (those bamboo shoots are heaven) and the other dishes that happen to be heavy on chilli oil (ma po tofu). I feel like you can find dishes like the eggplant in garlic sauce elsewhere (Evergreen has a very similar dish) but it's the real spicy stuff that is unique to LS. That said, I still order things like the green beans and eggplant because it evens out the meal. You can't have 4 dishes of chilli oil (at least my stomach can't). I do love the dan dan noodles but maybe it is a takeout issue - I could see that they're much better fresh.

                                                          1. BTW-LS was reviewed in the 2/7 city pages. I'd link to it, but my last post got moved to the food and media board. Cuz we all go there looking for info??

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: MayrMN

                                                              Thanks for posting that Mayr. Here's a link to Mayr's post about the City Pages article so you can all find it easily:



                                                            2. Yep...Dara is totally on to us.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: g rote

                                                                Wow, she totally is. The cucumbers, bamboo shoots, dan dan noodles, ma po tofu - that's my order!! I'm surprised she had little to say about the service though considering most of us have noticed it's lacking.

                                                              2. well, we finally made there it there tonight, and guess what? They were open! Maybe because it was Valentines Day, it was packed. We waited about 15-20 minutes for a table. Just as we arrived, it got busier. I will also add that the service was pretty spotty. We got our menus, and water and tea, the waiter was very nice and helpful, but it took a long while before our food arrived. The timing was off too because our soups cam inthe middle of our entrees, but we didn't much mind, we went along for the ride.

                                                                We ordered: dry sauteed green beans (very good), honey crispy shrimp (this was one of our favorites at Tea House, and we thought that it would be the same, but it was in a kind of mayonaisey sauce that my daughter and wife like, but I didn't), the short ribs (good but was expecting them to be more crispy and not so tough), wonton soup (not recommended), and dan dan noodles (by far the best dish we had). All-in-all, a good spot that we'll try again in spite of the service (in their defense, they were very busy). Next time, I'd like to try some more of the recs from this thread esp the chung king shrimp and chicken. Thanks to dairy Queen and everyone else for the recs!

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: bluesman13

                                                                  We were there tonight, too! But I think it was later - many tables were starting to empty when we arrived. We also had a 15-20 minute wait, but we were expecting it so I was happy that the wait was so "short". Our service was very friendly and earnest, albeit rushed and a bit disorganized - there was a delay with one of our dishes, but otherwise things went smoothly. I thought they did a good job given the crowds - again, I was expecting worse and was pleasantly surprised.

                                                                  We had the fried cucumbers (wow!), the dan dan noodles (yum), fish filets in broth - aka dancing fish (really good) and garlic A choy (delicate and delicious - not spicy at all). I would order all of these dishes again, but probably not all together - I'd throw in a fried dish to balance the textures a bit. The cucumbers went beautifully with the noodles, but the texture of the fish and choy were too similar to the cucumbers. But I was very happy with the taste of each dish.

                                                                  I'm going to wait for the post-review crowds to ease up a bit, then go again on a weeknight. If, that is, I can manage to hold out - I want to eat there again tomorrow night!


                                                                  1. re: bluesman13

                                                                    A friend and I were at Tea House last week, and ordered the Honey Crispy Shrimp, expecting something similar to what you describe (light mayonnaise sauce) from Little Szechuan. Instead, it was more like sweet-and-sour shrimp (with a heavy batter, deep fried), with an extremely gooey honey sauce. Is this the dish you were expecting, or has it changed?

                                                                    1. re: Chris Mitra


                                                                      Yes, you are correct. The difference between the tea house version and little szechuan version is as you say. The little szechuan version is similiar to the sauce some other places use on walnut chicken/shrimp. At LS, we were expecting the same version as TH since someone upthread mentioned that they thought the chef from TH left to open LS. I was really surprised at house roomy and tastefully decorated LS was. It was also nice and quiet. Sometimes those big rooms have a tendancy to get very loud.

                                                                      1. re: bluesman13

                                                                        I noticed Little Szechuan has accoutistical tiles for a ceiling, which I think helps with the noise. The tiles are painted a stylish black so they aren't hideously ugly. Nicely done, I think.

                                                                        Fried cucumbers? Sounds bizarre and intriguing at the same time. Will have to try that, and, now the honey crispy shrimp to my expanding list of things to try.

                                                                        bluesman, I'm glad you finally made it (at a time when it was actually OPEN.)


                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          You haven't had the cucumbers yet? That's my favorite dish. It's a perfect study in contrast. The spicy hot pepper is perfectly offset by the coolness of the cucumber. Yum!

                                                                          1. re: Paz

                                                                            Note that "fried" means stir-fried, I think, not battered and deep fried. So they're served hot, with just a hint of a light sauce (maybe oil?) an a generous amount of red pepper flakes (I think). They're really, really, really wonderful.


                                                                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                              Thank you for the clarification. I was visualizing "deep fried" actually. Stir fried makes no sense now that I think about it. I have a hard time convincing my dining companion to allow more than one order of vegetables at our table, and the green beans are the favorite. I shall lobby vigorously for the cucumbers next time. They sound great.


                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                The cucumbers are an appetizer, maybe that will help convince them that you can order that and the green beans. They are wonderful - similar in idea to the bamboo.

                                                                                Edited because the chowdown is indeed on, can't wait!

                                                                  2. Thanks for the update! More items to keep in mind for the Little Szechuan chowdown!!

                                                                    1. are there dishes at LS that aren't as spicy but still delicious? any recs like the honey crispy shirmp? I'm planning to go try it with my family, but some of my family members can't handle really spicy items.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: starburst


                                                                        I went there with blueswife and blueskid and neither of them like super spicy food. The honey crispy shrimp is mild and a perfect choice for non-spicy food lovers. In her review of LS, I think Dara mentions a couple of dishes that are also good choices. But, I think I'll defer to the other contributors of this thread who have been there many more times than I have.

                                                                        Will you post back here after your visit and tell us what you had and what you liked/disliked?

                                                                        1. re: starburst

                                                                          most of what I've had there has been spicy, but here are two that aren't that taste pretty good:

                                                                          - the garlic A choy is very mild - not very exciting, but balances out a spicy, savory meal very well

                                                                          - my husband and daughter loved the lamb with black bean sauce. it wasn't spicy at all. it was very salty, almost bacony. although I found this dish a little one-dimensional and a little saltier than I'd like, i wouldn't complain if husband and baby girl order it again. and it did grow on me.

                                                                        2. We went to LS today (Saturday) at 12:30, I had made reservations for a table for 8. Our table was ready when we got there, and it was really busy. Not sure if the crowds were due to the nicer weather outside, Dara's recent CP article, the Chinese New Year weekend or Saturdays normally being busy. As others as previously mentioned, the service was a bit spotty which was understandable since they were swamped. We enjoyed ourselves though, and were really pleased with everything we ordered! (Thanks to me reading the recs on this post)
                                                                          Our Menu for 8 (in order the dishes came out in)
                                                                          Dan Dan Noodles (this came out first, and was a favorite, we only ordered 1 serving of it, just so everyone had a taste, i would definitely order it again)
                                                                          Fried Szechuan Cucumbers - this was really different from other dishes i've had, the texture and flavors were great
                                                                          Crispy Spicy Chicken - this was my least favorite, it was a bit dry, and it was really salty
                                                                          Fish in Brown Bean Sauce - This was fantastic, a bit on the spicer side, but it's a relaly well-done fish dish
                                                                          Lamb with Cumin - this is really different from most Chinese dishes I've had, almost had a medterranian taste to it, the cilantro gave it a different kick,
                                                                          Cripsy Shrimp in Special Sauce - this is the honey shrimp dish, it was a bit overly sweet (but that may have been enhanced because of the spiciness of the other dishes), it was just okay for me
                                                                          Green Beans with Special Sauce - loved these green beans, i had been imagining a different dish with more of a chili-soy sauce based flavor, but these were different and quite delicious
                                                                          Stir-Fried Pea Tips - nothing too fancy or new, but a great vegetable dish to complement the intense flavors of everything else.

                                                                          Everyone loved our lunch, including one vegetarian, a couple not-so-spicy eaters, and a guest from Taiwan (who's had excellent Chinese food all over). Since the service was a bit slow, lunch did take awhile, we were there till 2 pm, but we were enjoying ourselves. I'll definitely be back to try some other dishes.

                                                                          1. OMG! We finally made our way to LS tonight and everything was so much better than I had even imagined. It didn't hurt that we were beyond famished. Thanks to everyone for giving great heads up on this place and dishes.

                                                                            Dan Dan Noodles - we nearly slurped these down. Warm, full of flavor, spicy yet not overwhelming. The two of us couldn't eat these fast enough......

                                                                            Next came the Bamboo Shoots - now, we had no clue what to expect and we were beyond thrilled. The fresh long bamboos shoots swam in a pool of hot spicy chili oil. These were messy however each bite brought audible sounds from our table.......very spicy. Bites of white rice helped cool us down a bit.

                                                                            I couldn't recall what folks recommended for entrees so I asked the waiter if there was one item that was a standout - without missing a beat, he recommended the beef ribs. At first, I looked at him like he was crazy. I don't enjoy eating foods with my hands in public but because I was soooo hungry, I let in and took his recommendation - since I asked.

                                                                            Outrageously good! A heaping pile of spicy ribs - delightful!

                                                                            My dining companion had the lamb with cumin which I am never crazy about but he raved and even I found it tasty. It was not as dry as I've had other places (which is a good thing) and the cilantro was just enough to give it a fresh flavor.

                                                                            The two of us needed to ask for four takeout boxes so we could split the leftovers....

                                                                            I cannot wait to go back - thanks to everyone for the heads up. This is perhaps the best Asian meal out I've had in a very long time!

                                                                            1. has anyon easked or tried any of the 'daily specials" that are written on the chalk board in the front? They're written in Chinese, so I don't even know what they are...

                                                                              p.s. I hate when Chinese restaurants do that...

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: bluesman13

                                                                                I've been wondering about those specials, too...


                                                                                1. re: bluesman13

                                                                                  i saw the daily specials the other day, but there weren't any that we were interested in. as I recall, they were written in Chinese but had the english translation below it? On saturday, there was a fish fillet dish, and some pork ribs dish.

                                                                                  1. re: starburst

                                                                                    Adding an English translation to the specials board must be something new or infrequent--there was definitely no English on the specials board on any of my previous visits.


                                                                                    1. re: starburst

                                                                                      I know that when I first started going to Tea House, I used to ask them what the specials were on the board and she would try to translate. And then a while later, they started writing the English on the board. But I was at Little Szechuan just last week and didn't notice the translation. I must have missed it...

                                                                                      1. re: starburst

                                                                                        Starburst's right--it seems they have switched to adding English translation to the specials Board. Something I noticed at the LS chowdown.


                                                                                    2. not sure if i've got anything to contribute here, we've gotten "late-lunch/early dinner at LS (for people who have normal work schedule)-- at around 3pm--so we've written off any flaky service at LS as "it's totally downtime here" "we're obviously right in the middle of the staff meal" "it's slow so they're training new staff." we were there at 3 on V-day-- and, well, the food wasn't SPICY. at all. good, authentic spices, no heat. when we first went to LS i took my cue from all of the great, articulate posts and recs from you guys and DIDN'T order my dish spicy and it came out snappin' fire and delish, just how i like it (i normally eat high heat South Indian, Thai & Cantonese). Rockstar ordered his food spicy and it was super-hot and spectacular. on Valentines Day we both did specifially order our food spicy (looking for those endorphins) and it came back gentle and mild as school lunch chow mein! it looks like we dined earlier than some of you that day-- i'm thinking we got the trainee cook, but i'm concerned that maybe LS might be turning down the heat since Dara's writeup to attract middle of the road diners-- anybody else get that, or was this a total fluke?

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                        Gosh, I hope they aren't going to start turning down the heat to attract middle-of-the-roaders. Did you order from the "authentic" menu? (I think the authentic one is the black one; the other one is green. It's easy to tell which is which if you compare them side by side.) Also, I'm assuming, of course, that the dishes you ordered were meant to be spicy; there are things on their menu that really aren't all that "hot," like the green beans in special sauce, for instance.


                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                          I was thinking more about soupkitten's comment about the heat at Little Szechuan. I have to say, all the times I've eaten there, I've always ordered off the black (authentic) menu, never the green menu. Only the first time I ate there was I warned that my dish would be spicy, and was asked if that was okay. (And I gave my stock answer, which is, the chef should spice it however he thinks it should be spiced.) Aside from that, I've never been asked about the heat of my dish. I've often joked that at LS you know you're getting an authentic meal because the kitchen isn't organized enough to be able to keep track of who wants the food spiced authentically and who wants it toned down because they are less adventurous. While I think there may actually be some truth to that, it has occurred to me that if you accidentally order off the green menu that the staff might note that and signal the chef that you'll want your food "toned down," shall we say. But, since I've never ordered off the green menu, I don't really know.

                                                                                          I don't think they typically prepare the dishes with the heat to order. I think the heat of the dish is whatever the chef thinks is the proper balance of heat in the dish, unless you ask for it different, and, even then, I think the chef may still prepare it the way he always prepares it. Futhermore, at the LS chowdown, where we probably tried a dozen and a half different dishes, one of the things that struck me over and over again is that, even though many of the dishes were very spicy, the heat of the chilis was never the only spice in the dish. There was always a balance of flavors, even when it was very spicy.

                                                                                          So, if you're expecting them to pile on the heat, at the expenses of balance, I'm not sure they are going to do that. Personally, I've found that if I order several dishes at LS, the accumulation of heat during the course of the meal is plenty.


                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                            i've never even opened the green menu-- but i do think it was a fluke, as the food we had yesterday afternoon was fine. the time we got toned down food, we'd ordered one dish that is not necessarily spicy and one that is, so we specified that we would like them both to be spicy.

                                                                                            we have never been asked about the heat level at LS either, but did specifically ask for them both to be spicy this one time, so it was weird when a dish we'd ordered 2 other times came back pretty bland, while it's been firey hot the other 2 times. oh well, a fluke then. or maybe just never say the word spicy in LS, or you'll jinx yourself! we did notice the english labeling on the board yesterday, (never before then), and i'd just like to say that we got really good service as well, although the waitress we've seen working there most often recognised us the second time we visited and has always been really nice to us.

                                                                                        2. Apologies if this has been addressed already and I missed it, but does LS do dim sum on weekends? And if so, is it good?

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Mill City Modern

                                                                                            So sorry to say that they don't do dim sum.

                                                                                            We had our hopes up too.

                                                                                            1. re: Mill City Modern

                                                                                              They do dim sum at Mai Village a few doors down--I don't particularly recommend it, if you can a little drive, I think you'd be better off hopping in your car for Jun Bo, which is probably the next closest option...


                                                                                            2. A friend asked a waiter about dim sum and if the restaurant considered adding it and the waiter said no,.....and something about they are so busy as it is now......

                                                                                              1. I heard from the waiter that the chef/owner of Little Szechuan was the original chef at Tea House. If it's true, it explains the similarity of the Chun King Chicken and Sizzling Rice and it'd also explain why Tea House isn't so good anymore.

                                                                                                I had a couple of really nice meals but afterwards I had MSG-head....or maybe it's just too much sodium and not enough water. It felt like a head cold, sorta and it won't stop me from going back. Maybe next time I'll only eat one meal. Oh, the Chun King shrimp at lunch was ... bad. It tasted like dried shrimp, which isn't a good taste in my opnion. The "general tso's chicken" was really fluffy in an odd, but good way. The short ribs looked amazing but I didn't get to put any in my mouth.

                                                                                                1. Hey there, I know lots of people have tried various ribs at Little Szechuan, but, has anyone tried the crispy beef short ribs, specifically? I've had 2 different versions of their ribs, one I mention about, and the other at the chowdown, but I'm not sure if they were the crispy beef short ribs.

                                                                                                  According to an interview with Rong Bai, the owner of L.S. in today's Pioneer Press, this is the dish on their menu she is most proud of. She says it's been on the special menu since they re-opened the restaurant this winter. Any comments from 'hounds who have tried it?

                                                                                                  Sadly, she doesn't reveal much about the chef, Guanghe Luo, except to say that he's from the Szechuan province in China. Oh well.



                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    Hm, I'm not sure but I would suspect these are what we had at the Chowdown since the waitress specifically recommended them.

                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen


                                                                                                      when I was there, I asked for the short ribs. The waiter asked me if I meant the ones that were mentioned in the City Pages, and I said yes. However, now that you mention that there are two different ones, I'm curious as to which one I had - because as I mentioned upthread, the version I had was not crispy at all (nor was it very good). So, I'll have to try these again sometime I guess.

                                                                                                      If anyone has been to Seafood Palace (and I haven't been there recently although I heard they changed ownership), they have a short ribs dish that is what I thouguht the LS dish would be like - crispy tender short ribs, with a slightly sweet sour sauce.