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MSP-Teahouse vs. Little Szechuan

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I finally ate at Little Szechuan. I started eating at Teahouse in plymouth about a year and a half ago right after the head chef there started up Lil Szechuan. A friend of mine said that he used to eat at Teahouse but now prefers LS as the chef is superior. I had the fish filet in spicy broth with tofu as it looked to be pretty much the same thing as what I order at TH. It was very good but didn't blow me away. I actually think I prefer the TH version, especially since TH puts a lot more fish in the dish. LS really skimped on the fish which was a disapointment. I always read and hear how LS is so much better then TH and how TH has gone downhill but I have never been dissapointed with the food at TH.

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  1. I usually order the beef in hot sauce dish. Had that dish recently at both restaurants and preferred the TH version.

    1. TH is my favorite. Gotta love those scallion pancakes and juicy buns. The garlic shrimp rocks too. Actually, most everything I've had at TH has rocked. I stop and get take out at least every couple of weeks when I need the spicy Chinese fix.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ssioff

        I crave Pork in Spicy Szechuan Broth from LS weekly, it's my favorite dish in St Paul.However every other dish I have had their fell way below my expectations. The Chung King Chili Chicken was dry and hard and not spicy at all. I became ill after eating the Chairman Mao Braised Pork, again not spicy at all.Dan Dan Noodles were not nearly as good as everyone here raves. Have not tried Teahouse yet.

      2. I'd complicate things further by throwing in the newest Tea House too (on the east side of St.Paul). We generally go there most often, since it's very close to our house, but there are things we prefer at Little Szechuan (the eggplant in special sauce, for example). On the other hand, the Szechuan Kung Pao Chicken at the Tea House is our favorite Chinese dish anywhere....

        6 Replies
        1. re: mtullius

          Does anyone know if Tea House 2 has a menu item comparable to Little Szechuans Pork in Spicy Szechuan Broth?

          1. re: EricShawnSmith

            I happen to have a menu close at hand, since we get take-out from there embarrassingly often...

            There is something called "Boiled Pork in Szechuan Hot Sauce," or on the cold dish category there is "Boiled Sliced Pork w/Szechuan Garlic Sauce," but I have had none of these, nor the LS dish you mentioned, so I can't say for sure if they're similar.

            1. re: mtullius

              Thank you I will try the Boiled Pork Dish asap and report back.

              1. re: EricShawnSmith

                I'm stuck ordering my favorite dishes at Teahouse Plymouth..fish in szechuan sauce...dancing fish...double cooked pork...pork in garlic...bamboo tips app. Can someone recommend me some of their favorites?

                1. re: dave43

                  Has anyone been to teahouse lately and can share there experience? I was a regular until I had two bad meals and haven't been back. My favorite fish entrees that used to have tender fish and flavorful broth turned into a bland broth of rubbery fish. I was dissapointed to say the least. I hope they have improved as I miss teahouse.

                  1. re: dave43

                    I went to the Plymouth Teahouse last weekend for nibbles after visiting the Art Shanties on Medicine Lake (which were wonderful but chilly). We'd never been there before, but we have been to the St. Paul location once, and liked it a lot (oh, those soup dumplings!).

                    We weren't hungry for a full meal, so we ordered two appetizers: Szechuan wontons in spicy sauce and Hot dan dan noodles. Both were good, but I especially loved the wontons - they're boiled, not fried,and are a lovely combination of meaty, salty, spicy, and just a bit sweet. Addictive.

                    We also ordered Szechuan green beans. They were very nice, too - dark and salty (in a good way) and not spicy (luckily - those noodles are really hot).

                    Based on these three dishes, I would definitely go back.

                    Anne

                    P.S. The Plymouth Teahouse doesn't have the soup dumplings - they're only at the St. Paul branch.

        2. I'd like to point out another alternative. I recenttly discovered Tian Jin in Chanhassan that also serves authentic Szechuan food. They have a master chef specialized in Szechuan dishes and I actually prefer Tian Jian over TH or LS.

          Please give Tian Jin a try - it's been pretty quiet there the last few times I was there - they deserve much more customers as their food is excellent.

          6 Replies
          1. re: kzuiderveld

            Great tip, thank you. There doesn't seem to be much info out there about this place, though, I found a mention of their address, etc. on this website: http://www.ci.chanhassen.mn.us/comm/r...

            Are there any dishes there you particularly recommend?

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Everything I ate there was good. I usually eat the Chung King Spicy Chicken or the boiled beef in spicy sauce (i.e. some of the usual dishes folks eat at TH or LS).

              The Tian Jin version is usually at least as good as TH or LS IMHO.

              1. re: kzuiderveld

                Thanks KZ!

                I live a mile away from Tian Jin...It used to be a Giant Panda and I assumed they opened another run of the mill Chinese resturant. That is good news that they are authentic. I will go this weekend and report back.

                1. re: dave43

                  Thanks again KZ...I just started a new thread for Tian Jin as it certainly deserves it's own voice. The best restaurant I have been to in a long time.

                  1. re: dave43

                    TDQ,

                    I know your opinion carries alot of weight on this board and I encourage you to try out Tian Jin as I would like to hear your feed back.

                    1. re: dave43

                      Chanhassen's a bit out of my way, so, it might be awhile before I can get out there to try it...but, I can't wait to try this place, based on KZ's recommendations and your report in this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598000 But, I hope lots of other 'hounds can get out there and report on it as of course, my humble opinion shouldn't carry anymore weight than anyone else's!

                      ~TDQ

          2. Tea House 1 in Plymouth: I like it. I used to love it. Boiled Fish, Boiled Pork, Chun-King chicken, Lung, Dan Dan Noodles...it is/was very good. But feels like it's been sliding.

            Little Szechuan in St. Paul: I like it. I used to love it. The cucumber Dara recommended (god I miss her at CP) is a revelation. They did Green Beans better. Lamb better, Beef Short Ribs were amazing, now they're just good.

            Tea House 2 (east of St. Paul, by 3M): IMO, currently the best of the three. They have that super thin sliced pork with green leek leaves...happy tummy. The soup dumplings are good. The chun king chicken is good. I don't think I've tried the short ribs and the spicey boiled dishes are up to par.

            Tian Jin: Next place to try. Thanks KZ for reporting. I gotta get out there (25-30 miles from home).

            1. Not having been to the St. Paul version of Tea House - only the Plymouth one and based on two visits each to both TH and LS, I prefer LS. Having no buffet is a major factor here for me. At TH I ate:

              Dan Dan Noodles – only so-so. Served as a cold dish, not hot. And no ground pork that I could remember.

              Stewed Sliced Beef and Stomach – a cold, feel-good appetizer that just hit the spot.

              Szechuan Cold Bean Jelly – not bad, just a notch below Little Szechuan’s version.

              Kung Pao Chicken – they did this dish proud. No bell peppers either!

              Boiled Beef in Szechuan Hot Sauce – a very sassy bit o’hell in a bowl! The beef melted in my mouth.

              Of course the beastly $9.00 buffet reared its ugly steam table head here and included one large container dedicated to a red sweet and sour sauce - just in case anyone wanted to drench that all over ones buffet food!

              Definitely a place I’d go back to - and they told me their St. Paul branch serves dim sum everyday. Also much easier to get to Plymouth from Minneapolis than Chanhassen.

              7 Replies
              1. re: scoopG

                scoop, aren't you the one that complained of lack of vegetables at TJ? that list you just gave
                us is very, very meaty....

                1. re: faith

                  You have to order the stir fried green beans at L.S.!

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: faith

                    Lack of Chinese greens is what I am not seeing enough of - including what can be found in Asian markets like (Shur Huang?) the one on 27th and Nicollet where I saw at least a half dozen different types.

                    1. re: scoopG

                      Shuang Hur is the grocery you mention. There's also an outpost of that grocery on University Ave in St. Paul just blocks from L.S. And then there's the whole Hmong market by the Capitol where Asian greens are everywhere! Mind you, this is all retail, but you're right, the veggies are out there, many of them grown locally.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Thanks. Next time I will start asking for them in the Chinese restaurants then!

                        1. re: scoopG

                          It has been my experience at Chinese restaurants in california, that there are usually greens available but that sometimes they are not on the "regular" menus. I guess the thinking is that people who don't know dont want them, and anyone who wanted them would just ask. Possibly also done this way because the specific type of greens (a-choy, yu-choy or pea tips or others) would change too often to bother putting on a menu. Cant say ive ever sucessfully pulled this move off in mn, but i dont even pretend to speak a lick of chinese.

                          That said, the rainbow at midway often carries locally packed (though usually mexican grown) greens like these, in the NW corner in big zipper lock bags. I wont have any need for these once the growing season gets going, but it has been a welcome find to keep me in asian greens between trips to united noodle and shuang hur.

                      2. re: scoopG

                        ok scoop, I do agree with you on this topic- I love Chinese greens- I often will ask
                        what they have and enjoy just about any of them, including Chinese broccoli which they usually have, done simply with garlic and ginger and oil. I think Shuang Cheng in dinkytown often has them on their specials board, like On Choy etc.

                  2. I'm a big fan of both restaurants but I've eaten much more often at Tea House over the last year because the Plymouth location is really convenient for me. Overall, I think Tea House seems to be a bit more generous with both the oil and the spice and Little Szechuan seems to have a lighter touch.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: doraji

                      I have stopped going to TH (Plymouth) because of quality issues but I have to admit that I really miss their bamboo tips appetizer.