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No Mas - Jfood gives up on Chinese in MSP

jfood Oct 22, 2009 07:37 PM

After attempts to find Americanized Chinese to his liking jfood feels like Giuseppe O'Toole. Who is Giuseppe O'Toole? He left France in 1491 in search of America, and he failed. Likewise jfood has failed.

Maybe it is a different taste that he grew up with back east, maybe there is just a difference between NJ/NY/CT Americanized Chines versus what is available in MSP.

But with all the great other choices and his total lack of success, jfood will call it quits on this venture. He claims success on the Cheesburger and Ice Cream Tours, but he he gives himself an "F" on the Chinese venture.

Oh Well. Jfood returning in two weeks and already has a reservation at Bar La Grassa and the Taste of the NFL.

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  1. f
    faith RE: jfood Oct 22, 2009 07:48 PM

    And you're going to deprive us of all the gory details? I haven't seen you writing about any of this bad Chinese food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: faith
      jfood RE: faith Oct 22, 2009 07:57 PM

      No gory details at all. Just not to his liking but each place was thriving with locals enjoying. So jfood will take the hit on this one. No need giving bad reviews if it is not the restaurant's fault. Just different strokes for different folks syndrome.

    2. pikawicca RE: jfood Oct 22, 2009 08:04 PM

      This made me giggle -- "no mas" is what we say to Miss Dog when all of her treats are gone. Is there really no decent Chinese in MSP? Seems like there should be something.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pikawicca
        The Dairy Queen RE: pikawicca Oct 23, 2009 02:22 AM

        pika, there is indeed decent Chinese food here (my favs are Little Szechuan and Tea House; but Pagoda (it's pan Asian, including Chinese), and Mandarin Kitichen aren't bad; also there's Shuang Cheng for Lobster, Keefer Court for bakery, Yangtze (per ScoopG--I haven't been yet) for passable dim sum) but good AMERICANIZED Chinese is difficult to come by, in part because it depends on what Americanized means to you. We even have (about 15 years after the curve) have a new upscale pan Asian restaurant Ginger Hop that's getting a lot of buzz.

        For Americanized, I think the cream cheese won tons here are pretty good here, but I hadn't really encountered them before, either, so they define cream cheese won tons to me. I don't understand the bizarre bologna stuff that comes on chow mein here.

        I get my Americanized Chinese food from Grand Shanghai on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Little Szechuan has a decent, though not extensive, Americanized menu, though I haven't ordered from it in yonks, because I go there for the Szechuan menu.


      2. MplsM ary RE: jfood Oct 22, 2009 11:48 PM

        Americanized Chinese food is very different here in Minnesota. We have weird and seemingly singular taste when it comes this and I have no idea why. Heck, I'm still searching for the old-fashioned Minnesota brown Chow Mein of my youth. You'd probably really hate it, but it's what my tastebuds remember.

        One thing that's very different about our "Chinese" food is that it's usually packed with sugar. Also, over the past couple or so decades it's become much more Vietnamese than Chinese.

        I personally go for Broccoli in Garlic Sauce in most places and it's wildly different everywhere I've tried it. I kind of like that it's so unpredictable but I'm thinking that would frustrate most people.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MplsM ary
          Bill Roehl RE: MplsM ary Oct 23, 2009 06:15 AM

          "Americanized Chinese food is very different here in Minnesota. We have weird and seemingly singular taste when it comes this and I have no idea why."

          Agreed wholeheartedly.

        2. MSPD RE: jfood Oct 23, 2009 07:25 AM

          I can understand the wanting to give up. But if you can't find something to love at Pagoda, you're not trying at all. (Which reminds me, have you taken my advice to get a burger at Good Day Cafe yet?)

          Pagoda has hundreds of dishes and a constant array of changing specials -- everything from Americanized to standard Chinese Chinese food. All of the...let's see....25-30 (?) dishes I've tried there have all been between good and amazing.

          When Mother Nature is pissed off like she seems to be right now, their hot pots and soups are the perfect cure for the shivers. I wish I was having lunch there today.

          1. scoopG RE: jfood Oct 23, 2009 08:08 AM

            I found Pagoda's dim sum to be so-so and not as fresh as Yangtze. Also Pagoda offers a mixture of Chinese, Japanese and even Thai items if I recall which is always bad news for a Chinese restaurant. Has Jfood tried the quintessential Midwest Chinese-American dish: Chow Mein - a mixture of ground pork (or turkey) and celery in a sauce served over the crispy Chungking Brand style noodles with rice on the side? Big take out item. I've not seen this elsewhere in the USA although I've heard it used to be served in northern NJ. I tried to find an old thread on Chow Mein from the MSP board but did not have time...here's a start with four places but I expect every local neighborhood Chinese serves it:


            3 Replies
            1. re: scoopG
              MSPD RE: scoopG Oct 23, 2009 08:46 AM

              Dim Sum and the regular dining are two different things -- my comments are re: the regular dining.

              1. re: MSPD
                soupkitten RE: MSPD Oct 23, 2009 09:01 AM

                i went to pagoda for dim sum the first weekend they offered it, and it was a durn good improvement over mandarin and the like. but since then i've been working weekend mornings. has the dim sum at pagoda just sucked lately, or is yangtse just that much better (i haven't been)?

                i look forward to dim sum sometime when i get a weekend morning off next month, so this is big for me. help me out, hounds! :)

                1. re: soupkitten
                  scoopG RE: soupkitten Oct 23, 2009 04:51 PM

                  In my once only taste tests of both both Pagoda and Yangtse, Yangste won hands down. Some of the dumpling skins at Pagoda were withered or cracked and overall just not as fresh as Yangstse.

            2. s
              soupkitten RE: jfood Oct 23, 2009 08:12 AM

              if i was trying to get good chinese i'd go to tea house, LS (though i am concerned about a recent LSndownhill report by Bob s? i think? someone very reliable in any case), or pagoda (i like pagoda's dim sum). keefer court is a good chinese bakery.

              if i was trying to get mn-americanized chinese i'd go to rainbow or ping's (i don't ever go). it's also dead easy to stumble into a leeann chin's or it's ilk, esp in the burbs. i hope that Jfood did not have the bad luck to encounter this type of restaurant.

              many "chinese" restaurants in the msp area are actually vietnamese, so you have to know what you're looking at.-- vietnamese is a more solid food scene here than chinese in any case, but there are decent chinese restaurants here, just not a big chinatown scene.

              agree wholeheartedly with TDQ about the cream cheese wontons. they are a funny thing :) they are not authentic to anything, obviously, but i think they would be the state appetizer (as fried cheese curds would be WI's). they are gooey and delicious, usually served with an unfortunately sweet gloopy sauce, and enjoyed by all. even the authentic chinese places need to have them on the menu because they are just screamingly popular with everyone. you really haven't dined in msp until you've sampled CCW-- they are totally like the jucy lucy. i can't type this with a straight face. i really can't even believe i typed it. but i think it's true. doh.

              3 Replies
              1. re: soupkitten
                MplsM ary RE: soupkitten Oct 23, 2009 12:54 PM

                Cream cheese wonton booster, here. The best versions to me are purse shaped, made with wonton wrappers NOT egg roll wrappers - too crunchy. If they have jalapenos in them, so much the better. The goop should be cut with hot mustard for me. You are right it is just so wrong.

                I think we can thank Leeann Chin for the now ubiquitous CCW and I'm happy to do so even if the CCWs at Leeann Chin outlets kinda blow, thanks to the way they keep them warm. Oddly enough, Thai places have the best cream cheese wontons/puffs.

                1. re: soupkitten
                  scoopG RE: soupkitten Oct 23, 2009 04:53 PM

                  I noticed no drop off at LS during my visit this past September. I did not get to TH in Plymouth again but would certainly go back.

                  1. re: soupkitten
                    bob s RE: soupkitten Oct 24, 2009 10:38 PM

                    Thanks for the kudos, sk. I don't know if I was the one whose report you saw. I had a mediocre lunch, but I don't know if I'd say it was completely downhill. I chalked it up to poor ordering myself. I've heard some reports here that say that things are as good as ever. I haven't been back recently - it's the other side of the river for me - but I'm definitely willing to try it again.

                  2. s
                    stepawayfromthetable RE: jfood Oct 23, 2009 08:33 AM

                    yes. I have suffered too. But I think I found something in Peking Garden? in the Midway Rainbow strip mall. Cod with black bean sauce is my favorite and they are open till 2AM on the weekends...so close to the turf club can't be beat!

                    1. Monch RE: jfood Oct 23, 2009 09:20 AM

                      I have fond memories of a place near the U of M campus called The Village Wok.

                      To my, then-unsophisticated, palate it was exotic and delicious.

                      Has my memory been clouded by time, or is it really as good as I remember?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Monch
                        bob s RE: Monch Oct 23, 2009 09:22 AM

                        If you mean "good" as in a little greasy, but great before or after drinking, yes it's still good. I don't sense any change in VW in the 10-15 years or so that I've eaten there.

                        1. re: bob s
                          Monch RE: bob s Oct 23, 2009 11:57 AM


                          I don't think I remember where I left my Beer Goggles....

                          Everything was new and exciting then......I'm older now.

                        2. re: Monch
                          scoopG RE: Monch Oct 23, 2009 04:54 PM

                          I used to love the beef noodle soup at The Village Wok years ago but have not been back. Yes, it once was pretty darn good in the 80's.

                          1. re: Monch
                            diesel RE: Monch Oct 26, 2009 09:28 AM

                            The wonton noodle soup at Village Wok is still pretty boss. All porky and shrimpy and sesame-y and scallion-y. It used to be only on their late night menu but I believe it's now on the regular menu. Mmm.

                          2. k
                            kevin47 RE: jfood Oct 23, 2009 02:00 PM

                            I miss Yummy, which had good dim sum and good dinners. What about Evergreen?

                            1. c
                              chrismpls RE: jfood Oct 23, 2009 06:00 PM

                              jfood -- I also grew up with northern NJ Americanized Chinese food, and agree that I have not yet found that flavor profile here in MN.

                              However, I also lived in SF for a number of years -- arguably the mecca of Chinese food in the US -- and could not find the NJ flavor profile *there*, either. (Although out there, there were a lot more authentic Chinese restaurants that more than compensated for the lack of NJ-style Chinese.)

                              I have mostly given up on Chinese food here, other than LS/GS. But I would re-open that search if it meant finding a good Chinese place that would have delivery/takeout to SW Minneapolis.

                              Has anyone ever tried Xin Wong at 48th and Nicollet? Curious -- I drove by it the other day and noticed it for the first time.

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: chrismpls
                                JimGrinsfelder RE: chrismpls Oct 23, 2009 06:31 PM

                                So, what is it that marks northern NJ Americanized Chinese? I mean, it seems cream-cheese wontons and lots of deep-fried stuff with sweet sauce (i.e. Seasame Chicken, Sweet & Sour anything) indicate predominant Minnesota style of Americanized Chinese.

                                Salt & Pepper Prawns? Are those Authentic Chinese? Minnesota Chinese? NJ Chinese? I'm so easily confused.

                                I like Grand Shanghai. I don't think it's particularly authentic chinese, but I'm not in China, so I'm willing to eat the tasty green beans and other dishes they make.

                                I also like Tea House/Tea House 2/Little Szechuan, but the last two or three meals at TH2 and LS seemed like they've started coasting and I fear they won't recover.

                                Village Wok is usually a good restaurant. I just don't know if their food is NJ Americanized or what...

                                Seems like some kind of taxonomy might be needed, like with BBQ and all the regional variations.

                                1. re: JimGrinsfelder
                                  scoopG RE: JimGrinsfelder Oct 24, 2009 04:23 AM

                                  Am not sure what constitutes northern NJ Americanized Chinese food but you are right about all this battered, deep fried sweet and sour meat is gloppy red sauce is not Chinese. I would say Chow Mein is something I've not seen outside the upper Midwest. Sort of like a Cashew Chicken dish that is every Chinese place serves in Springfield, MO. Salt and Pepper dishes are featured across many of the Chinese cuisines - will have to try the Village Wok as it used to be a a solid mainstay years ago but that might be several ownership changes ago...

                                  edit: here's the Cashe Chicken link


                                  1. re: scoopG
                                    scoopG RE: scoopG Oct 24, 2009 04:29 AM

                                    And I am sure New Englanders in the Twin Cities heartily miss their Chow Mein Sandwiches!


                                    1. re: scoopG
                                      The Dairy Queen RE: scoopG Oct 24, 2009 06:01 AM

                                      What? "Americanized Chinese" that includes chow mein and deep fried sweet and sour meat in gloppy red sauce, is most certainly not exclusive to the upper Midwest.


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                        scoopG RE: The Dairy Queen Oct 24, 2009 06:40 AM

                                        Oh - gloppy red sweet and sour can be found everywhere - but Minnesota “Chow Mein” - celery and ground meat in sauce over the crispy Chungking style crispy noodles with rice on the side - I've not seen outside of the upper Midwest. I think it was also once found in northern NJ. This American style Chow Mein is not to be confused with the real McCoy – Chao3 Mian4 (Chow Mein in Cantonese) 炒面 which is stir fried noodles.

                                        1. re: scoopG
                                          The Dairy Queen RE: scoopG Oct 24, 2009 06:49 AM

                                          Oh, gotcha. Well, I think that's primarily the influence of the Iron Range's own Jeno Paulucci and his discovery that he could get celery trimmings for cheap. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/compan...


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                            scoopG RE: The Dairy Queen Oct 24, 2009 04:48 PM

                                            Thanks - never knew the Jeno connection to Chungking and celery trimmings!

                                          2. re: scoopG
                                            faith RE: scoopG Oct 24, 2009 11:28 PM

                                            I'm thinking that gloppy celery chowmein with the crispy noodles used to be a mainstay at East Coast Jewish events like weddings and bar mitzvahs...

                                            1. re: scoopG
                                              tex.s.toast RE: scoopG Oct 26, 2009 07:04 PM

                                              This is something i never got over in six years of living in minn. growing up in sf "Chow Mein" was pan/stir fried thin (not ridiculously thin or anything) noodles. Chow fun would be the same dish but with wide rice noodles substituted.

                                              I arrive in st paul to find that gloppy brown mess with rice served with it, and ill say that the only time i was more disappointed than the first time was when i forgot about my unfortunate discovery while ordering some late night post-drinking delivery and all i wanted were greasy noodles and instead i got an inedible tub of gross turkey/celery gravy.

                                              As some anecdata for you - at a central (though almost northern) NJ highly americanized chinese restaurant (family function i got no say) just yesterday my uncle ordered vegetable chow mein which was basically a plate of steamed/greasy mixed veg with a bowl of thickened brown sauce (he may have been offered a choice of white or brown sauce). there were no crispy noodles. he doesn't eat rice (!?!) so i cant say definitively if thats normally part of the service.

                                              1. re: tex.s.toast
                                                karykat RE: tex.s.toast Oct 26, 2009 10:26 PM

                                                Hey tex -- miss your posts here now that you've moved. Check in when you have an opinion or when you're back.

                                                1. re: tex.s.toast
                                                  scoopG RE: tex.s.toast Nov 3, 2009 12:36 AM

                                                  Yeah I can see where it would be hard to stomach if you didn't grow up on it!

                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                JimGrinsfelder RE: The Dairy Queen Oct 25, 2009 02:21 PM

                                                Has anyone tried the storefront chinese place with the neon sign with a bowl of noodles over on 26th AVE S, next to Rainbow Foods, just north of Lake Street? I saw it a couple of times this summer when I was driving a particularly strange kid-dropoff run*, but I never got a chance to eat the food.

                                                * start at Grand and Snelling, go to Seward Montesorri, drop one, drive to 43rd and Nicollet, drop two, drive to Broadway and Central and work.

                                                1. re: JimGrinsfelder
                                                  fendel RE: JimGrinsfelder Oct 30, 2009 06:25 AM

                                                  Oh, you do not wanna go there. I tried it. Place was dirty (god knows what was on the pepper shaker I picked up) and the food was ... well, I couldn't finish it, and that's saying something. Shrimp rubbery and weird. Sauce gelatinous and flavorless. Not going there again.

                                                  1. re: fendel
                                                    JimGrinsfelder RE: fendel Apr 3, 2010 04:50 PM

                                                    Thanks for warning me off.

                                          3. re: chrismpls
                                            scoopG RE: chrismpls Oct 24, 2009 04:15 AM

                                            The mecca of great Chinese cuisine in the US is found in the San Gabriel Valley (not LA), the Bay area (not San Francisco) and Flushing, NY. Have not tried Xin Wong but it is near the ages-old Cathay Chow Mein...

                                          4. p
                                            puddin head RE: jfood Oct 23, 2009 08:42 PM

                                            Ah jfood...I lack your sophisticated flavor palate, but I know me some good junky chinese food when I taste it. I had a favorite back in Chicago, but have not yet found anything to take it's place here. So far my best replacement has been Red Pepper in Richfield. Plenty of brown sauce, a good fried rice, and my feet don't stick to the floor when I walk in to pick up my order.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: puddin head
                                              nymoving2004 RE: puddin head Oct 24, 2009 01:41 PM

                                              best that i can recommend is Cheng's Chinese Garden (Nicollet/Lake St. Officemax shopping center)....again - it may not be what you're looking for....but after 2 years in NYC Hells Kitchen area, we were addicted to a very similar restaurant.....I've usually got tunnel vision with the pork lo mein, gen tso's, dumplings, etc.....so i haven't really tested the waters. But I haven't been dissapointed yet.....
                                              And your feet will definitely stick to the floor.....(had a good laugh from that comment - thx puddin head...)

                                              1. re: nymoving2004
                                                puddin head RE: nymoving2004 Oct 24, 2009 07:00 PM

                                                thanks NY, I will definitely give them a try the next time I have a craving..I have a similar tunnel vision when it comes to orange chicken and beef and broccoli. I'll be sure to wear my teflon shoes :)

                                            2. jfood RE: jfood Oct 24, 2009 01:47 PM

                                              This is GREAT!!!

                                              Minnesota Nice meets some good old fashioned A-Type competitive DNA. Will be in MSP for a bunch of November and will definitely give some of these a try.

                                              Thanks all.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: jfood
                                                stepawayfromthetable RE: jfood Nov 2, 2009 10:48 PM

                                                Okay. I have to post again. Peking Garden is good. I just had their Ma Pa Tofu and asked for some baby bok choy in it. It was excellent; hot *spicy* oil from the pork, soft fresh tofu, bright peas and bok choy. and for under 10 bucks. it may be the best Ma Po Tofu I've eaten. Wish their fresh whitefish and black bean sauce wasn't about 20 bucks...but will be back for it on date night. Open till 2 on weekends...and late on the other nights.

                                              2. b
                                                boardsurfer RE: jfood Nov 3, 2009 04:22 PM

                                                I always enjoy PF Changs. The crab wantons are to die for IMO. Although I did eat at their counter-part a couple weeks ago (pei-wei) (Sp?) and it was really bad :(

                                                1. seacatte RE: jfood Nov 4, 2009 11:27 AM

                                                  I know jfood usually sticks around the Minneapolis area having read his posts, but I have to recommend The Great Mandarin in Eden Prairie. It's actually in Eden Prairie Center, but if you park in the north side of the lower Von Maur parking lot, you can use the mall entrance between Von Maur and JC Penneys to get to The Great Mandarin without having to traverse the mall.

                                                  The Great Mandarin was a staple for me when I was in high school, and their cream cheese wantons are the best I've ever had. My mom always gets their Cashew Chicken, and she's pretty finicky about her Chinese food. I like the Sesame Chicken myself. Plus they have an awesome staff. It's really worth a visit.

                                                  Great Mandarin Restaurant
                                                  8251 Flying Cloud Dr Ste 1206, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

                                                  26 Replies
                                                  1. re: seacatte
                                                    discus RE: seacatte Nov 8, 2009 09:13 AM

                                                    Note that JPFood gave himself an F on Chinese food in Minneapolis vs an indictment on the availability of good Chinese cuisine. So let's get very specific. We refer to dining, not dim sum, and we mean authentic food -- not cream cheese won ton or other horrors.

                                                    I'm going to excude Szechuan cuisine, because there's a real confusion between spice and flavor. For example, Tea House West has become incredibly spicy, but flavor has significantly dropped in my opinion.

                                                    For well cooked Chinese cuisine, my favorite has always been Seafood Palace on Nicollet and 25th. This is disciplined Cantonese cooking with an emphasis of freshness. Every dish taste different, like the way it's suppose to taste. Subtle dishes, like steamed oysters, retain their delicacy. The quail is to die for. Mandarin Kitchen has some excellent dishes, pea tips and fried tofu, but their duck is to be avoided.

                                                    1. re: discus
                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: discus Nov 8, 2009 09:35 AM

                                                      Actually, it seemed to me jfood specifically was seeking "Americanized" Chinese food in the Twin Cities and having no luck. As far as I recall, he hadn't really even posted (either in this thread or outside of it) that he's looking for good, authentic cuisine here. If you want good Americanized Chinese in the Twin Cities, recommendations for places that serve good cc won tons (which I find completely crave-worthy, and not at all horrific what's not to like about deep fried cheese, when they are done well, though even then I consider them 95% Minnesotan and 5% Chinese), seem entirely appropriate to me. I'm actually pretty psyched about some of the cc won tons rec'd in this thread as, before now, I hadn't even known how good they could get.

                                                      Thanks for the tip on MK's quail--I shall add that to my list.


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        jfood RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 12:20 PM

                                                        Thanks all.

                                                        Jfood has 4 meals in MSP next week and given the Wolves play Houston he will probably pass on that game. So far Bar La Grassa and Alma. Probably one up in SP for a Selby or University event and then maybe a Chinese. He may also try for Masa since he was unsuccessful last week.

                                                        He normally likes some fried dumplings, a chicken dish (sadly he likes Gen Tsao) and possibly a beef/pork. So he will re-read all of these and try for something.

                                                        Thanks everyone

                                                        BTW - Jfood has never heard of a CC won ton and not sure he is better or worse for it.

                                                        1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                                                        1. re: jfood
                                                          The Dairy Queen RE: jfood Nov 8, 2009 12:33 PM

                                                          Consider the cc won ton a local delicacy, the way you would jucy lucy or walleye sandwich.

                                                          EDIT: P.S. in my opinion, nothing wrong with liking General Tsao's chicken. There's room on the delicious continuum for even "inauthentic" foods.


                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                            jfood RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 12:34 PM

                                                            that's what jfood thought yet it started getting included in NJ Chinese. In NJ CC goes on bagels.

                                                            1. re: jfood
                                                              The Dairy Queen RE: jfood Nov 8, 2009 12:49 PM

                                                              You're in dairy country now. There's really no inappropriate application for cheese, especially fried. You've tried deep fried cheese curds, right? They are nothing like cc won tons of course, but another MN must do.


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                jfood RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 01:02 PM

                                                                (Hanging head) No, Ma'am.

                                                                1. re: jfood
                                                                  The Dairy Queen RE: jfood Nov 8, 2009 01:09 PM

                                                                  Oh my goodness! We've been shamefully delinquent in our tour guide duties! I can't remember, have you been to Town Talk Diner in Minneapolis yet? You might enjoy dining at the bar there. I find the place loud and crowded, but this time of year, (ie., not summer, not State Fair time, not Conny's Creamy Cone time) it might be one of your best options for fried cheese curds. If you haven't tried frickles, this might also be your best bet. http://www.towntalkdiner.com/

                                                                  If Jordan's around, he can speak eloquently about the rest of their menu.

                                                                  I think Blue Door Pub is supposed to have good deep fried cheese curds (and spam bites) but I've never personally tried them. Expect a wait...
                                                                  http://www.thebluedoorpubmn.com/menu.php Maybe BDP fans can chime in...


                                                                  Town Talk Diner
                                                                  2707 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                                                  Conny's Creamy Cone
                                                                  1197 Dale St, N St Paul, MN

                                                                  Blue Door Cafe
                                                                  24 S Indiana St, Greencastle, IN 46135

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                    Jordan RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                                    Town Talk Diner is a favorite of mine. It's a truly friendly joint, so if you sit at the bar, you'll can expect some fun interaction with the staff.

                                                                    Their burgers are topnotch, and they usually have an interesting menu of gastropubby sort of food ... a bit downscale, a bit upscale, but done with attention to quality. I recommend it.

                                                                    Town Talk Diner
                                                                    2707 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                      Uisge RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 9, 2009 09:10 AM

                                                                      I'll chime in as a BDP fan. The cheese curds are good there (not quite up to TTD, but tasty). Really liked the fried pickles (frickles). We also tried the fried spam - it was tasty, but as quoted at the table "anything wrapped in this much cream cheese and fried would taste good". I went with a group of four and we shared five different burgers. All were good, some were great (including the jiffy burger). Made me the fan I am.

                                                                    2. re: jfood
                                                                      pikawicca RE: jfood Nov 8, 2009 01:57 PM

                                                                      Don't do it, jfood! These things are vile beyond belief -- like eating rubber. I was shocked when I tried these for the first (and definitely only) time. Can't believe that so many people apparently find this stuff edible. Shudder, shudder, shudder.

                                                                      1. re: pikawicca
                                                                        The Dairy Queen RE: pikawicca Nov 8, 2009 02:01 PM

                                                                        Eating deep fried cheese curds is like eating rubber? Nay, they should be gooey on the inside inside, crispy on the outside. Fresh cheese curds are more rubbery, but if they are fresh enough (24 hours old or younger), then the squeekiness if them is sufficiently entertaining.

                                                                        pika, if your deep fried cheese curd experience has reminded you of eating rubber, you need a visit to the Twin Cities so we can show you how it's done right. State Fair, Conny's Creamy Cone, Town Talk Diner...

                                                                        Avoid, avoid, avoid the fried cheese curds at TCF Bank Stadium. Now those are vile.


                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                          pikawicca RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 02:06 PM

                                                                          I think I'll let jfood be the guinea pig on this one. If he posts a favorable report, I might be able to bring myself to give it another try. (Your description of fried cheese curds sounds yummy.)

                                                                          1. re: pikawicca
                                                                            The Dairy Queen RE: pikawicca Nov 8, 2009 02:17 PM

                                                                            What's not to love? Fried+cheese. I fear you've been eating stale "fresh" curds, which end up being rubbery instead of "snappy"...


                                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                  tex.s.toast RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 11, 2009 07:30 PM

                                                                  What, like pizza and burritos? ;)

                                                                3. re: jfood
                                                                  Jordan RE: jfood Nov 8, 2009 01:22 PM

                                                                  Cream cheese wontons are basically crab rangoon, minus the crab. Do they have those where you're from?

                                                                  Now that I've relocated to the West Coast, I'm finding that cream cheese wontons are common in Thai restaurants out here, oddly enough.

                                                                  1. re: Jordan
                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: Jordan Nov 8, 2009 01:34 PM

                                                                    I don't believe in crab rangoon the same way I don't believe in Big Foot. Never seen it. Who in the Twin Cities serves it?


                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                      Jordan RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 03:00 PM

                                                                      I believe I've seen frozen crab rangoon at Kowalski's.

                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                        otps RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 03:51 PM

                                                                        I used to get crab rangoon at David Fongs. I can't remember when they switched to cc wontons, but I seem to remember a server saying it was allergy related. More people can eat them without the crab, and the amount of crab flavor was minimal. The same family runs it, so maybe someone who visits can find out.

                                                                        David Fong's
                                                                        9329 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                          getgot211 RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 03:51 PM

                                                                          I think Lemongrass in Brooklyn Park does.

                                                                          Kevin47 posted this...
                                                                          "We started with the wontons and the sausage appetizer. I've been trying to discourage the wife from relying on the old standbys, but these wontons weren't much help to me. Nice and dense, with a bit of onion and crab in the center. If you're going to fry cheese, this is how you fry cheese"

                                                                          1. re: getgot211
                                                                            TonyO RE: getgot211 Nov 8, 2009 04:41 PM

                                                                            Seems like crab rangoon are about as popular as egg rolls lately. Not all that exciting, but tasty especially of served with a good sweet/spicy sauce.

                                                                            1. re: TonyO
                                                                              otps RE: TonyO Nov 8, 2009 05:20 PM

                                                                              Just went Fongs web site and crab rangoon is on the menu.

                                                                              1. re: otps
                                                                                dave43 RE: otps Nov 8, 2009 06:21 PM

                                                                                It's good to hear town talk hasn't gone downhill after the changes. The Cheese curds there are excellent...made with wisconsin cheese and deep fried to perfection with a hint of citrus flavor. I concur on Great Mandarin having good americanized chinese food. I always order the hunan chicken as I love the tangy sauce. As far as crab rangoons I have had some excellent ones at Tian Jin but am reluctant to recommend as quality has dropped lately.

                                                                                Great Mandarin Restaurant
                                                                                8251 Flying Cloud Dr Ste 1206, Eden Prairie, MN 55344

                                                                                1. re: dave43
                                                                                  mitch cumstein RE: dave43 Nov 11, 2009 07:29 AM

                                                                                  I hate to dissapoint, but after comparing the two in consecutive nights I think that the curds at the red stag are the new benchmark for cheese curds in the city when we are not in the 12 days of state fair...even the homemade ketchup was superior(and bacon free, which should be an unfair advantage towards TTD)

                                                                                  1. re: mitch cumstein
                                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: mitch cumstein Nov 11, 2009 08:23 AM

                                                                                    I fail to see how discovering BETTER food is a disapointment, especially since TTD is usually too loud and crowded for my tastes. :)

                                                                                    I shall put Red Stag's cheese curds on my list of must haves, thanks for the tip!


                                                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                            puddin head RE: The Dairy Queen Nov 8, 2009 08:30 PM

                                                                            hee...we bought (and devoured) a box of crab rangoon from Costco this weekend. no real crab flavor, but a nice bit of onion/spice flavor to them, which is where I think cream cheese wontons fall short compared to crab rangoon...they are devoid of any spice or kick.

                                                                4. m
                                                                  Maggie19 RE: jfood Nov 11, 2009 11:52 AM

                                                                  For what it's worth, at the Rainbow last weekend we had superb Szechaun beef ribs for our app..... Cut in 1" squares, these ribs come with an excellent smokey hoisin sauce with chiles & sliced charred green onion. Then one of our favorites at the Rainbow... Shrimp with black bean sauce...always very good. Also, I tried for the first time the Sate Summer Beef. Beef with onions, pea pods, and cabbage...in a very spicy red chile sauce. Again, just excellent. Also, their bok choy with garlic/ginger sauce is another favorite.

                                                                  1. k
                                                                    kitkat RE: jfood Apr 1, 2010 06:42 PM

                                                                    I, too, have trouble finding americanized Chinese food I like in this area. Home was the affluent suburbs of a different city (not a coastal one, though!) I found this thread because I got a craving for dumplings, but am too short on restaurant budget to play around. Now I've been on the internet for a while, feel like I still haven't found a sure bet, and the small restaurants are closing and I'm getting tired and less hungry anyway! :-) I miss having dumplings and moo shu pancakes taste like they did when I was a kid. And I did like crab rangoon better than cream cheese wontons (though now that I'm all grown up I can't eat so much of that.) Maybe I'll have to ask to eat americanized Chinese food next time I go home!

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: kitkat
                                                                      Latinpig RE: kitkat Apr 2, 2010 08:42 AM


                                                                      I would take a closer look at Rainbow, Seafood Palace, Shueng Cheung and Yangtzee. It is not clear to me wether you dislike authentic chinese cuisine or not. It sounds to me like you would have loved the Nankin in it's prime (Minnesota Chow Mein).

                                                                      1. re: Latinpig
                                                                        tart1 RE: Latinpig Apr 7, 2010 06:34 PM

                                                                        I think House of Wong in Roseville is very similar to what the Nankin was. Egg Fu Yung, Chow Mein, etc. It's still drawing large numbers of older customers, and I'm sure that's because it is "safe" ethnic for many Minnesotans.

                                                                        House of Wong
                                                                        Roseville, MN, Roseville, MN

                                                                        1. re: Latinpig
                                                                          iphonechica RE: Latinpig Jan 25, 2011 11:30 AM

                                                                          I read through this whole string just to see if anyone remembered Nankin. It was our favorite growing up. A "special occasion" place...with the opportunity to venture downtown. (At least as downtown as Mpls can get.)

                                                                          I also remember Shueng Cheung being quite good. They have dungeness crab (when in season) with black bean sauce. Delicious.

                                                                          However, you can find the ubiquitous Minnesota version of Chow Mein in Phoenix, AZ of all places. My husband and I would frequent Big Heng in Peoria, AZ and they serve a very similar Chow Mein, complete with the Chung King-style chow mein noodles. Seriously good nostalgic good eats.

                                                                          1. re: iphonechica
                                                                            The Dairy Queen RE: iphonechica Jan 25, 2011 11:40 AM

                                                                            Uptown Cafeteria & Support Group in Calhoun Square reportedly has Nankin's Chicken Subgum Chow Mein as its Monday special, if you're feeling nostalgic.




                                                                      2. b
                                                                        BigE RE: jfood Apr 2, 2010 10:31 AM

                                                                        I would put in a rec. for Tea House as well.

                                                                        My sister is notorious for not liking Chinese food and she raves about Tea House.

                                                                        1. pikawicca RE: jfood Apr 3, 2010 05:47 PM

                                                                          I've been thinking about this since your original post, j, and I have to say that I've eaten interpretations of Chinese food in Australia, throughout Europe, and across the States. With a few exceptions, they've been very similar. Can you pinpoint the tastes, textures, whatever that are different for you?

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: pikawicca
                                                                            DukeFan RE: pikawicca Apr 3, 2010 06:09 PM

                                                                            if you are in the western burbs, I would recommend Ming Wok in Excelsior. As good and authentic as anything I got in San Francisco.

                                                                            Also, they will customize any menu item you want based on your preferences

                                                                            1. re: DukeFan
                                                                              Rheta RE: DukeFan Apr 4, 2010 08:17 AM

                                                                              When we lived in Plymouth, MN, we loved Red Pepper. Now I live in SE Michigan and can't find any good Chinese food. The best I've found is PF Changs. Sad!

                                                                            2. re: pikawicca
                                                                              jfood RE: pikawicca Apr 6, 2010 05:49 PM

                                                                              THANK YOU PIKA...TOUCHDOWN!!!

                                                                              Lousy weather, lots of traffic and Idol on so jfood decided to suck it up and try again. He read the posts and decided to go with some common choices on a different thread and the result was one of the BEST Chinese food he has ever tasted.

                                                                              Dinner consited of:

                                                                              - Fried Potstickers - Excellent filling with a flavor jfood could not place but felt great to the taste buds. The sauce was different from those he has eaten in the past and he really liked it
                                                                              - Dan Dan noodles (cold) - Once again, not sure what the ingredients were that made this dish so good, but the only comment would be jfood would have like a little more sauce.
                                                                              - Chung King Chili Chicken - Given the 2 pepper heat factor on the menu jfood asked for it much more mild, and it still had some heat. The flavors were outstanding with the sweetness of the red peppers .
                                                                              - Milky Crispy Shrimp - Jfood is still doing cartwheels over this dish and just has to give a WTF was this made from. this could be the GREATEST Asian dish he has ever eaten. The crispiness of the coating, the perfectly cooked shrimp covered in a tangy sauce plus a milky sauce makes jfood want to get up and run back for another portion. A 14 on a scale of 1-10.

                                                                              Thank You all for this restaurant. YI{PPEE!!

                                                                              Edit - This is Grand Szechuan in Bloomington


                                                                              1. re: jfood
                                                                                pikawicca RE: jfood Apr 6, 2010 06:41 PM

                                                                                That Milky Crispy Shrimp sounds great. I've never encountered it. Anyone know what it might be called on a menu?

                                                                                1. re: pikawicca
                                                                                  jfood RE: pikawicca Apr 7, 2010 05:37 AM


                                                                                  That is what it is called on the menu. And other posters (thankfully) called it that upthread as well.

                                                                            3. s
                                                                              soupkitten RE: jfood Apr 6, 2010 08:14 PM

                                                                              heh heh. glad Jfood found the right place-- sounds great. :)

                                                                              in other local chinese restaurant news, the brand new tea house (dinkytown location) looks like it's about ready to open any day now! i drove past in the a.m. yesterday and workers (looked like restaurant workers/family, not professional movers) were carrying dining room chairs into the restaurant, and there was a general buzz of activity around the front of the establishment.

                                                                              i've tried to search for the new tea house (dinkytown location) thread and can't find it-- russian tea house and other unrelated topics keep coming up (any thread that mentions tea). Jfood's mention of dan dan noodles triggered me to respond here in this thread. i'll note that the tea house restaurants are more on the "authentic chinese" side of the chinese/chinese-american continuum. and that they have really good dan dan noodles. and xlb. and that if they deliver to my house i'll be effing stoked. . . when we lived over there, we ordered so dang much from the st. paul location of tea house that every member of staff including the owners & family members knew dh by name and would all come out of the kitchen, wave and say hi when he popped in to pick up to-go food. it was actually kind of embarrassing. but needless to say we've been watching the former baker's square restaurant, soon to be tea house dinkytown, raptly! i can't wait to get my tea house fix w/o having to drive to st. paul! if anyone sees the dinkytown tea house actually open, please let me know asap, or start a new thread, thanksverymuch!

                                                                              signed, addicted to tea house, --sk.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                turtlebella RE: soupkitten Apr 7, 2010 06:06 AM

                                                                                ha! you describe perfectly what happens when my husband goes to the St Paul Tea House! We are also embarrassingly frequent customers...

                                                                                1. re: turtlebella
                                                                                  Seige RE: turtlebella Apr 7, 2010 04:04 PM

                                                                                  We've not been to Tea House (bad, I know), but this is funny and sort of similar to my husband and me too. Little Szechuan is our vice of choice. We go there so much that when we went to Grand Szechuan (where some of the LS staff moved to), our server recognized us and gave us hugs! LOL Grand Szechuan is great, but we still love Little Szechuan too. Some people think the food's not as good there, but all our favorites are still fantastic.

                                                                                  Little Szechuan - West End
                                                                                  5377 16th Street, St. Louis Park, MN 55416

                                                                                2. re: soupkitten
                                                                                  soupkitten RE: soupkitten Apr 13, 2010 09:02 AM

                                                                                  dinkytown tea house now open!

                                                                                3. g
                                                                                  gdy0106 RE: jfood Jan 24, 2011 03:23 PM

                                                                                  try Hong Kong Noodle near the minneapolis u of m campus. and peking garden!

                                                                                  Hong Kong Noodle
                                                                                  901 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: gdy0106
                                                                                    scoopG RE: gdy0106 Jan 24, 2011 05:55 PM


                                                                                    Why are they so special? What dishes do they do well? How often have you been eating there? How do you compare them say to Little Szechuan?

                                                                                    1. re: scoopG
                                                                                      ibew292 RE: scoopG Jan 25, 2011 05:29 AM

                                                                                      You always seem to compare everything to LS. When was the last time you ate there? I thought you were based in NY. The last time ( this time,it is for sure) I ate at LS, I remembered why I don't go there. I would hope that the other recommendations in this thread are better than LS or we are in trouble. Could be that the 6 or 7 times that I was there they had off days, so someone call me when they are on so I can experience their "good" food.

                                                                                      1. re: ibew292
                                                                                        scoopG RE: ibew292 Jan 25, 2011 05:41 AM

                                                                                        I get to the Twin Cities 1-2 times per year. Was last at LS last summer. Until I find out otherwise LS is the best Chinese restaurant in the Metro area. The Twin Cities metro is too vast and the Chinese population too small to support more than a couple of good spots. Have you posted about your negative experiences at LS?

                                                                                        1. re: scoopG
                                                                                          ibew292 RE: scoopG Jan 25, 2011 06:04 AM

                                                                                          Yes I have posted negs. about LS, I never had a meal that I thought was good. My currant favorite is Szechuan Spice on Lyndale. Their Shredded Pork in Garlic Sause and Dan Dan Noodles were good. Chinese food seems to be good one day and bad the next. Your right about the population being to small to support very many good places to eat. What other places did you try when you were in Mpls last or was LS the only place you went? It is hard to believe that being from NY you would find any Chinese food in Mpls. area to be edible.

                                                                                          Szechuan Spice
                                                                                          3016 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                          1. re: ibew292
                                                                                            scoopG RE: ibew292 Jan 25, 2011 06:49 AM

                                                                                            I keep trying to find a better place than LS but have failed. (The last main pretender to emerge was Tian Jin in Chanhassen and that was terrible.) I look for a good place to have house specials that change and very few American-Chinese dishes. Let's face it, even LS has to sell chow mein to help pay the bills. But that is the only Americanized food I've found on their menu. Tea House in Plymouth is not too bad if you avoid the buffet. Half the battle is in ordering. All bets are off if you walk into a Chinese joint and start ordering Crab Rangoon, Egg Rolls, General Tso's Chicken etc. Szechuan Spice will be added to the check-out list!


                                                                                            1. re: scoopG
                                                                                              The Dairy Queen RE: scoopG Jan 25, 2011 10:54 AM

                                                                                              I think Szechuan Spice is own by the Tea House people. Aside from the buffet, what didn't you like about Tea House (there are, I think, 3 now: Plymouth, St. Paul, and University Ave)?


                                                                                              Szechuan Spice
                                                                                              3016 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                scoopG RE: The Dairy Queen Jan 25, 2011 11:28 AM

                                                                                                I thought the Plymouth Tea House was OK and that LS was just better. I've not been to the St. Paul location of Tea House nor the U campus site. I've wanted to try the St. Paul location for their weekend dim sum but haven't made it out there yet.

                                                                                                1. re: scoopG
                                                                                                  The Dairy Queen RE: scoopG Jan 25, 2011 11:41 AM

                                                                                                  Ah, okay. So, it wasn't bad (except the buffet) per se, but you didn't think it was as good as L.S.

                                                                                                  They have scallion pancakes at Tea House (at least in St. Paul)!


                                                                                  2. k
                                                                                    KC612 RE: jfood Jan 25, 2011 05:32 AM

                                                                                    I've got two places for you to try. Not sure if they're authentic or Americanized, but they are good IMO. Crystal Garden near 46th & Hiawatha next to the Blockbuster in the little strip mall and Shuang Cheng in Dinkytown (5 spice squid and walleye with hot meat sauce are two dishes I very much enjoy).

                                                                                    Crystal Garden
                                                                                    4711 Hiawatha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                                                                                    Shuang Cheng Restaurant
                                                                                    1320 4th St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: KC612
                                                                                      scoopG RE: KC612 Jan 25, 2011 05:53 AM

                                                                                      Since jfood is looking for American-Chinese, Crystal Garden should fit the bill:
                                                                                      Crystal Garden:

                                                                                      1. re: KC612
                                                                                        drew13000 RE: KC612 Jan 25, 2011 12:50 PM

                                                                                        I'm far from an expert on Chinese food, but of the several chinese take out and delivery places in my 'hood of South Minneapolis, I agree that Crystal Garden is one of the best. I love the steamed dumplings, chicken chow fun and hot pots. The cream cheese wontons are decent, too. The meats and veggies are a better quality than a lot of the other places.

                                                                                        Crystal Garden
                                                                                        4711 Hiawatha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406

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