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MSP - Teahouse Szechuan Opening in St Paul? Anyone been there?

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spahkee Apr 20, 2007 07:01 AM

Saw in the Pioneer Press that a second branch of the Teahouse Szechuan restaurant from Plymouth is open in Saint Paul. Has anyone been to it yet? How does it compare to Little Szechuan on University? What things did you order? Has anyone tried their dim sum - which I understand is ordered from a menu rather than the traditional dim sum carts. Thanks!

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    samilou RE: spahkee Apr 20, 2007 09:01 AM

    i recently went to Tea House in Plymouth - great service - and i got Kung Pao Chicken - not so spicy - but it was very good. also, large potions. and reasonably priced. ever been to Yummy on Eat Street - excellent dim sum carts and all -

    1. The Dairy Queen RE: spahkee Apr 20, 2007 09:57 AM

      According to Kathie Jenkins Small Bites in yesterday's Pioneer Press, she especially liked the pork belly drizzled in garlic sauce, sesame pancake, fried pork buns, gui chow chicken, and spicy eggplant. I can't wait to try it myself and/or hear from a 'hound who's been to the new "T2" location.

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39301...

      ~TDQ

      1. ChrisS RE: spahkee Apr 26, 2007 04:02 PM

        Yes. I went a couple of weeks ago and was fortunate enough to have a good conversation with the manager. The food was great, especially off the Szechuan section at the back. They have one cook who is from the Chinese state cooking school in Chendu, and another for the weekend dim sum service. The manager is fresh in from NYC, and has ensured that the juicy buns popular there are on the menu here. The decor has been upgraded substantially from the previous mom and pop chow mein joint (Ho Mei) that used to occupy the site, and the food is a 100% improvement.

        1. m
          MayrMN RE: spahkee Apr 27, 2007 07:53 AM

          I was just at the Plymouth location last Friday and I have to say, I was frustrated by the servers continuous suggestion that we order the 'less spicy' option.

          I understand his wanting to make us happy with our choices, but it seemed like it was more condescending than helpful.

          How do the rest of you, who can handle heat, deal with this? Don't get me wrong, I want to taste the flavors, but a little sweat on the brow is OK.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MayrMN
            Nate Uri RE: MayrMN Apr 27, 2007 08:05 AM

            I'm a regular of the Plymouth location - basically I tried everything on the Sechuan menu. I either don't listen to suggestions, or just order before they get a chance. If they interject: "Oh, that's very spicy sir," then I usually respond: "Well then can you make it more spicy?".

            Great joint. Great food. Reasonable prices. My favorites: Double boiled pork, Bamboo shoots with chili oil (cold dish), and Pi Pao Tofu. Man, I'm in Thailand right now and I miss that place...

          2. ChrisS RE: spahkee Apr 28, 2007 09:08 AM

            I went back for a second visit this past Thursday evening. A half dozen tables filled, and all by older Chinese-Americans. I agree, the twice cooked pork is a real stand out if you have some appreciation for the succulence of pork belly. The BonBon Chicken was spicy, but didn't have the depth of flavor or the crushed/shredded texture that I wanted. No roasted sesame flavor. The shredded pork with preserved mustard green soup was very good with shreds of very fresh snow peas adding to the mix of flavors. The DanDan noodles were solid. I really like the juicy-buns, but they are not as thin skinned and delicate as some might want. I will probably go for Dim Sum next weekend.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ChrisS
              AnneInMpls RE: ChrisS Apr 28, 2007 09:35 AM

              Juicy buns? Oooooh, please tell me more. Are they anything like the soup dumplings at China Jen? Or are they something unique to Szechuan cuisine?

              Thanks,
              Anne

              1. re: AnneInMpls
                ChrisS RE: AnneInMpls Apr 28, 2007 10:00 AM

                I haven't been to China Jen, but I suspect they are. They are more Shanghai dim sum than Szechuan, and are made by wrapping a meatball and a small cube of cold consume in a thin dumpling skin and then steaming it until piping hot. You eat them by picking them up with a spoon, pouring a little black vinegar dressing over the top, biting a little hole in the side, sucking out the soup, and then eating the rest of the dumpling. The St. Paul location will be focused on Shanghai style Dim Sum and Szechuan cuisine as specialties.

            2. The Dairy Queen RE: spahkee May 5, 2007 02:23 PM

              I finally made it to Tea House II (in St. Paul). We ordered the scallion pancakes, the Szechuan green beans, the Chung King chicken (chilis, red and green bell peppers, onions, slices of garlic and chunks of chicken, stir fried in chili oil).

              The scallion pancakes were lovely, though sinfully greasy; they had a crispy/flaky, almost crust-like exterior layer that was really interesting and a nice contract to the tender interior. (It makes me want to try China Jen's scallion pancakes again--I don't recall a super-flaky layer on those pancakes. I've tried to order them the last couple of times I've had take-out at China Jen and they always tell me they are out. I think it's a small fib and they just don't like to make those as a to go dish. I could be wrong...)

              The Szechuan beans had a hint of sweetness and weren't as crispy as the ones at Little Szechuan. I still prefer LS's, if I had to chose, though T2's were still nice. The chicken in the Chung King chicken had a wonderful, almost-crunchy exterior texture (which, according to our server, is achieved by stir frying at very high heat.)

              The service was very attentive. The chef even came out to greet us. They've applied for, but haven't received yet, their liquor license.

              The setting is lovely, with soft music and the same orange wall/black accoustical ceiling tile look LS and Cafe BonXai both have. T2 also has intricately-carved, backlit wood panels adorning the walls, Chinese lanterns, and a lovely stand of bright green bamboo.

              Overall, a very nice experience. I still adore LS and didn't fall instantly and madly in love with any of the dishes at T2 quite the same way I was immediately captivated by LS's fish fillet in spicy broth and green beans in special sauce dishes, but T2 will definitely give LS a run for its money. And T2' service is many times better, though, that might just be that it's a smaller venue and not nearly as busy. Yet.

              http://www.ourteahouse.com/

              ~TDQ

              1. ChrisS RE: spahkee May 5, 2007 08:07 PM

                Third visit: Asparagus and crab soup, Szechuan wontons, Pork with smoked Tofu (by request made a little spicy). The soup was very mild and quite viscous with a good asparagus flavor, but only a mild taste of crab. The asparagus was sliced into thin little rounds. The wontons had a the flavor of good quality pork and were slicked with chili oil and soy. The smoked tofu and pork was the real standout. The chef cuts well, with the pork and tofu in similar sized juliennes. An addition of some chili oil isn't a bad thing. The dim sum service was available, but they only had a half dozen offerings,which were ordered off a dry erase board near the entryway rather than on carts. I would second a vote for the shanghai pancakes as very good, we had them for the kids on the first visit and they were lovely.

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