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Feb 20, 2009 06:28 PM

MSP-Tian Jin-Must Try in western Suburbs (Mandarin/Szechuan)

Teahouse and Little Szechuan have competition.

I recently posted on chowhound asking if anyone could comment on Teahouse as of late as I had a couple of bad experiences. Someone posted that I should try Tian Jin in Chanhassen. I have driven by Tian Jin many times but never stopped as I assumed it was another bland mass market chinese restaurant. I was wrong. This restaurant is a gem.It is a family run restaurant owned by a gentlemen named Ryan and his wife. Ryan and the chef were classmates in Tian Jin which is the 3rd largest city in Northern China close to Beijing. They were both trained in Mandarin and Sichuan cooking with many years of experience. I had the Gizzard appetizer which was incredible. It came in a sauce with soy, ginger, chiles, etc...the sauce was fresh and tasty and the gizzards were tender and flavorful. I had boiled fish in Szechuan spicy sauce which was similar to the same dish at Teahouse but not as spicy and the broth was thicker. This dish has been my go to at Teahouse untill around 6 months ago and I can honestly say that I like Tian Jin's version better as the sole was tender and the broth was bursting with flavor. Tian Jin also makes a Chung king chicken that is incredible. Crispy on the outside and tender in the inside. Once again I used to love this dish at Teahouse but Tian Jin's version wins hands down. My wife loved the Szechuan shredded pork with garlic sauce as I did. There are so many things on the menu that I would love to try and look forward to trying....Double cooked pork, Ma Po Tofu, Halibut in Chile sauce, etc. The owner and his wife were generous and friendly and I really hope they do well as there aren't to many options in the twin cities for authentic food done with care. Unfortunately there website isn't up to see the menu but I encourage anyone who appreciates good, authentic chinese food to make the journey to the western suburbs, I gurantee you won't be disappointed.

Tian Jin
463 W. 79th St.
Chanhassen, MN 55317

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  1. Thanks, Dave. I had dinner at the western Teahouse last week and was generally disappointed by the food. This is a restaurant that I loved and went regularly for the past four years. The Teahouse off 04E/White Bear Lake is much better, but a real haul for me. Will try Tian Jin soon and report back.

    1. Glad that you followed my recommendation and went to Tian Jin! I am delighted that you agree with my assessment that TJ is better than TH or LS. I went to the latter restaurants this week and was disappointed - TJ certainly raised my standards!

      4 Replies
      1. re: kzuiderveld

        Thanks again kzuiderveld. It's too bad a place like this has gone under the radar...It really needs to be reviewed by Rick, Dara, Rachael or Jeremy. I really hope they check sites like Chowhound as they really need to be encouraged to find out of the way places in the overlooked suburbs like Tian Jin.

        1. re: dave43

          Credit goes to kzuiderveld for finding this diamond in the rough. It's good to see THE critic of Minneapolis/St. Paul agrees with our assesment. I wrote the following comment under Jeremy's blog entry.

          Thanks to Jeremy for giving a voice to a deserving Restaurant. Three dishes that are a must try but not mentioned in the article are Chung Quing Chicken (Incredible), Homestyle gizzards (I could drink the soy/ginger/garlic sauce by itself), and Boiled fish in spicy szechuan sauce (ask for it spicy) as the northern chinese chef tends to not make it spicy like it's brethern @ Teahouse or Little Szechaun. I encourage anyone who appreciates good food to make the trek and anyone local needs to appreciate and patronize a truly outstanding restaurant.

          1. re: dave43

            People who feel they've uncovered a treasure should alert our good reviewers. Give them a tip, if you will. Else how will they know? Thanks for posting this. I'm actually considering a trek to Chanhassen.

            1. re: jeanmt

              Thanks kzuiderveld for discovering the place and to dave43 for posting their phone no. I am ecstatic because I just called and asked about msg and they
              don't use it! I generally have avoided Szechuan places because they seem to
              be very free with the msg- and I'm allergic to it. Plus I think it's a lazy way to cook (using it to liven up food that wouldn't be very interesting without it).

              I'm off to see if I can get a bus out there!

      2. Thanks for the head's up, it's on my "to try" list.

        1. adding this to the to-try list!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Ummm


            Looks like Tian Jin is receiving more much deserved press. Heavy Table is my favorite new site as it not only creates local content but also aggregates local press from all the top reviewers like Jeremy, Dara, Rick and all the amateur bloggers.

            I truly think that comparing Tian Jin to the top local Chinese restaurants is an understatement. After trying numerous dishes and hearing feedback from people who KNOW good authentic Chinese I would say that Tian Jin is on level with great Chinese restaurants in New York and San Fransisco. This of course is my humble opinion but I think many would agree.

            1. re: dave43

              I don't want to be a wet towel here, but Tian Jin's appeal may owe to it being the latest "in the know" restaurant in town. The gizzards are nice, but none of the other appetizers were available when we went. We particularly enjoyed the eggplant. The other dishes were just okay, around Teahouse level, but no more. Excessive use of MSG made everything a little less enjoyable for me.

              Having another authentic Chinese restaurant open up in town bodes well for us chowhounds. But seriously, this restaurant would have a tough time in either New York or San Francisco. I've lived in both places and always enjoyed better options.

              1. re: discus


                Thanks for the review. Your right on the appetizers...they really should have more variety considering their extensive menu. I thought they didn't use msg but I am not certain. As far as my comment on comparing them to good chinese restaurants in NY and SF, I still stand behind that comment. Their chef was head chef at a 4 star restaurant in Tian Jin. I have heard from people who actually lived in Northern China say this compares to the local cuisine. On another note it looks like Tian Jin was packed on friday night which is good to see.

                1. re: discus

                  I am sad to hear you felt there was msg in the food, after I phoned and asked about
                  it and was told they don't use it. I don't necessarily get a headache from msg but
                  I can instantly notice a strange artificial 'brightness' in the flavor and a slightly
                  altered feeling. I guess I'll have to actually try the food there and see what I think.

            2. We went to Tian Jin tonight. I think it is better than Tea House. I say it with photos. We had the crispy egg rolls for starters, the orange flavored chicken and the Szechuan Kung Pao Diced Pork.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Davydd

                Hey Davydd-

                Thanks for the great mouth-watering photos! Now I really have to get out there-

                1. re: Davydd

                  Nice pics...good to see some chowhounds making it out to no man's land.

                  1. re: dave43

                    Not exactly no man's land to me. I live out in the Lake Minnetonka area. :)