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MSP New Szechuan restaurant where China Jen (Roseville) was - anyone tried it?

I was over at the Fedex/Kinkos in the strip mall off Snelling across from the Roseville SuperTarget (same mall that Outback Steakhouse is in) when I noticed that there's a new Szechuan restaurant in the spot where China Jen used to be.

It wasn't quite dinner time yet but I was curious and stopped by the restaurant and got a take out menu. The decor has been done up a notch compared to the bare bones look that China Jen used to sport with more subdued lighting and some new paint schemes. To my surprise, the menu looked like it mirrored some of the items that Little Szechuan and Tea House in Saint Paul have - cumin flavored lamb, dan dan noodles, some of the cold appetizers that Little Szechuan offers as well as a myriad of other authentic looking dishes.

I don't know how long this restaurant has been open as I seem to recall that China Jen closed sometime this summer (??) but am curious as to whether any Chowhounds have given this new restaurant a try and how it stacks up to the plethora of Szechuan places that seem to have sprung up in the last 24 months or so.

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

China Jen Restaurant
2193 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55113

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  1. I just saw it the other day, too. This place just opened recently. A friend of mine who is actually from Sichuan province in China ate there a few days ago and said the food is very authentic, and plenty spicy hot.

    13 Replies
    1. re: KCMPLS

      I am sad to hear China Jen closed as I recently read that they are the only place in town to carry Shanghai soup dumplings but excited that we have another choice for Sichuan cuisine as there have been alot of mixed reviews lately on the current top spots-Little Sichuan/Grand Sichuan, Teahouse, and Tian Jin.

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      China Jen Restaurant
      2193 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55113

      1. re: dave43

        And the name of this new place in Roseville is??? Yangtze in St. Louis Park has soup dumplings (at least on their weekend dim dum menu) but they are not very good. Grand Sichuan and Tian Jin serve up up Americanized fare and cannot be compared to Little Szechaun or even the Plymouth Teahouse -so long as you avoid the Teahouse buffet.

        1. re: scoopG

          Scoop,

          I'm surprised on your assessment of Grand Szechuan. The same chef you used to rave about at Little Szechuan, Chef Luo, now heads up GS.

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

          1. re: dave43

            Maybe it's being confused with Grand Shanghai??

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            Grand Shanghai Restaurant
            1328 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

          2. re: scoopG

            The sign on the window of this new place just says "Szechuan" - my first thought was that it described the cuisine and maybe they were going to put up another sign with the name of the restaurant. However, upon getting their takeout menu, the name of the restaurant itself is "Szechuan"

          3. re: dave43

            I was really sad about China Jen, too. I didn't get there as often as I wanted to, but I always thought the food was good. I hope the new place is good.

            Dave, funny, that G.S. perhaps isn't as good as L.S., even with some of the same people. Maybe the info we've been getting about the "chef" who defected from L.S. to start G.S. wasn't really a "chef" but just someone in the kitchen. Or maybe he doesn't have good sourcing connections or business credit the way the owner of L.S. does... Or maybe he's already found he has to compromise authenticity to meet the tastes of the customers in his neighborhood, that kind of thing. I haven't been to GS yet, so, I can't really say.

            ~TDQ

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            China Jen Restaurant
            2193 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55113

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Good points. And although it may be one and the same person, he has certainly dumbed down the offerings. Smallert portions at higher prices to boot if I recall. I certainly found a world of differences between LS and GS. Also the apparent decline of Tian Jin is further evidence (to me at least!) that there was never a true Chef in the kitchen to begin with. I can see service issues arising if the owner is away but why should the kitchen suffer?

              1. re: scoopG

                So let's see, scoop and tdq, if you like the place, the chef can move somewhere else and the food can be horrible but you will make excuses like poor sourcing for the chef. But another place, if you didn't like it to start with, never had a chef. Is this some advanced food math I don't get?

                1. re: faith

                  Faith, I haven't made any comments or speculation about the quality of the food or chef at Tian Jin, now or ever really, nor have I used the word horrible with respect to any of the restaurants mentioned in this thread. Horrible is a word I seldom use on these boards.

                  But, I am mystified why L.S. was getting glowing feedback (notice my use of "perhaps" as in "perhaps G.S. isn't as good" and allowing for the possibility that it is as good or better?) and G.S. isn't, if, in fact it's the same guy in charge of the kitchen in both cases. What could explain that if, indeed, it's true? It doesn't really make sense to me...

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Here's two potential explanations for good food at LS, bad food at GS and same head chef:

                    1. People change. Maybe it's the same guy at GS as at LS but he's burned out and just phoning it in?
                    2. Maybe the guy wasn't the reason for LS success?

                  2. re: faith

                    Little Szechuan is the best Chinese restaurant I've found in the Twin Cities to date. I panned Tian Jin in my review (based on two visits) and asserted from the get-go that there never was a Chef in the kitchen at Tian Jin - merely cooks serving up Americanized Chinese. Oh and red and green bell peppers in just about every dish I tried. Yawn. Grand Szechuan in Bloomington is a meh place serving up mostly Americanzed Chinese fare. Dave says the Chef behind Grand Szechuan was from LS and before that, The Teahouse. That may be the case but he has dumbed down the offerings in Bloomington. He's also serving smallish portions at high prices IMO.

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

              2. re: dave43

                Dave43 - I seem to remember from my visit last month that the Teahouse restaurant in Maplewood/Saint Paul had soup dumplings on their menu.

                1. re: spahkee

                  They call them mini-juicy buns. And they are soup dumplings.

            2. We dined there tues nite. I ate earlier so just had two appetizers.
              The dan dan noodles contained no flavors i enjoyed and have had better wonton soup.
              My son ordered their pork belly expecting a thick slab and received a plate of thinly sliced fatty bacon. We asked the waiter what up and was told this is how pork belly is served in their part of China. He proceeded to tell us we should have ordered a whole fish to split as this is a speciality. Great timing TYVM

              1. I ended up getting take out there last week and I have to agree with Sharpshot's comments. I got the scallion pancakes, an order of the mapo tofu and an order of the won tons in hot Szechuan sauce. Ok, granted, takeout chinese probably diminishes the flavor but I was disappointed with all 3 items in terms of the flavoring.

                - Scallion pancakes - China Jen used to have great ones that were obviously homemade. Tea House in White Bear also has home made ones that taste like ones that I have had off the street in Taiwan and Malaysia. However, these pancakes looked like ones that came from the frozen compartment at your local Asian grocery store (Shuang Her, Double Dragon and United Noodles carry them) and then deep fried. If they weren't frozen, they sure didn't have the crispy layered quality that the home made ones have had.

                - Wontons in Szchuan sauce - again, wontons tasted frozen and commercial. None of the thin skin and flavorings that I'm used to at Tea House.

                - Ma po tofu - in continuation of my observations on my first 2 dishes, the ma po tofu that I get from Little Szechuan has the mind numbing Szechuan peppercorns that's juxtapositions itself with the silky texture of the tofu and other flavoring. This one - bland, no peppercorns - tasted like mapo tofu that I have had at other twin cities restaurants that don't necessarily proclaim themselves as Szechuan. It would have been acceptable but didn't meet the level of complexity, flavors etc that live up to the other Szechuan restaurants that I enjoy.

                First impression: give this place a miss unless you're in a pinch and just happen to be in the vicinity. Note though that Little Szechuan is about 10 minutes away and likely worth that extra drive.

                1 Reply
                1. re: spahkee

                  I went to Little Szechuan again last night and to say that I was pleased is an understatement. Everything was there, the earthy, the woodsy, the oily, the numbing, and the burning.

                2. RUN DON'T WALK TO THIS PLACE. Wow, I was just coming on here to start a new threat about this place. We went on Friday night. Yes, it's called Szechuan. Cannot figure out why people are so snarky about it. Only two people on here actually reviewed it, and one only had the Dan Dan Noodles (which were amazing).

                  I've eaten in the Grand Sichuan restaurants in New York zillions of times and in many Szechuan restaurants in Flushing Queens (saying this to give me any little bit of cred). This restaurant compared incredibly favorably with this. My dining companion and I both thought it better than Little Szechuan (but not by much). Those Dan Dans were incredible. We also had the hot Chinese pickles (in wonderful red oil).

                  Guys, this place has Chengdu Spicy and Aromatic Pig's Blood, Szechuan Spicy Frogs, and an extensive (and perfectly spiced, based on what we ordered) Szechuan hot and cold appetizer menu. The Szechuan menu itself is extensive.

                  Please try this one for yourself. I'm sad about how this thread devolved into weirdness bc this post will surely get lost. This place was amazing.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: jeanmt

                    Such opposing reports on this place, between yours and, sharphot's, and spahkee's... I guess I'll have to get out there to judge for myself, asap. I wonder if they are open for Thanksgiving?

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      jeanmt has me interested in Szechuan. When you start throwing terms like Chengdu Spicy and Aromatic Pig'a Blood around you are soooo speaking my language. I know where I will be dining this Saturday.

                    2. re: jeanmt

                      And you are basing this on having eaten two menu items - Dan Dan Noodles and Hot Chinese Pickles? Or did you have more? I know of only two Sichuan restaurants in Flushing (Little Pepper and Spicy and Tasty) plus one food stall (Chengdu Heaven.) In Manhattan Grand Sichuan (St. Mark's branch) has its fans but Szechuan Gourmet is probably tops. I will certainly give this place a shot on my next visit.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        Sorry, I know it sounds like I only ate two things. I also had Chengdu Mungbean Noodles (which I admit had a slight taste of brown sugar; not used to that in this dish and didn't care for that addition). Also had Fish with Szechuan Wild Chili Peppers (good, but not overwhelminingly spicy, as some have noted. But very good); and Fish Filet with Bean Curd Flower (ditto).

                        Yeah, Spicy and Tasty and Little Pepper. I'm the biggest fan of the Grand Sichuan in China Town, followed by Chelsea and the the one in Midtown.

                        1. re: jeanmt

                          Now it sounds like you had a whole feast! This is one of those occasions where I shouldn't be reading chowhound because it's making me hungry.

                          I only wish their scallion pancakes were better. I loved China Jen's, but, it sounds like this place is worth investigating. Especially if the dan dan noodles are good, (although, it sounds like sharphot didn't like them...)

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            An update: The dan dan noodles weren't that good as leftovers. They had a kind of stroganoff-y taste almost. (And yeah, the scallion pancakes were those the-same-the-world-over mediocre ones. But the four-year-old liked 'em.

                    3. I just went to Szechuan recently and thought I would add my two cents. I have never made it to Little Szechuan or Grand Szechuan, because Tea House St. Paul is so good, I never seem to make it elsewhere.

                      The food at Szechuan was good, but distinctly not as good as Tea House. It just seemed rougher around the edges. The dan dan noodles had a little bit of an off taste, and the kung pao chicken was fairly dull and had a lot of water chestnuts in it. The fish dishes may be the way to go. On the upside, the kitchen was blazingly fast. It seemed like the food came almost immediately after we ordered.

                      The clientele looked to be about 75-80% Chinese-speaking though, which is pretty unusual for Roseville.

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

                      1. Any updated info on hours, phone # and name (re: original post former China Jen)?

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                        China Jen Restaurant
                        2193 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55113

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: stymie

                          Per the posts above from spahkee and jeanmt, the name of the place is Szechuan.

                        2. I have also gone to Little Szechuan, it was a wonderful experience.
                          Nancee Swartz

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

                          1. Went for dinner a few nights ago. Kung Po Shrimp, shrimp were large, not breaded (which is good) and perfectly cooked, great flavor in sauce. Heavy on red and green pepper and water chestnut. Staff said they would be happy to swap in some onion and mushroom for the water chestnuts. The place was 3/4 full around 8pm on a Wed night. All but 2 table were speaking Chinese, the room had a very lively feel. They are open til 10 (1030 on F/S) close from 3 til 430 M-Th. 651-633-3113. One block south of 36 on Snelling, same strip mall as Outback. Lots of lunch specials for $7-$8 (M-F). Looking forward to trying some other dishes.

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                            Snelling Cafe
                            638 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: stymie

                              Any evidence they are using Sichuan peppercorns here? Nominally Kung Pao anything is the protein + peanuts + scallions + spices (ginger, garlic, soy, rice wine, peppercorns, stock etc) and when they start adding items like bell peppers and water chestnuts (or whatever you want) is a sign to me of more Americanized fare.

                              1. re: scoopG

                                My kung pao shrimp was not overly spiced. There were a few of the dried red chillies. If there were other peppercorns I couldn't tell. Their menu has a section with such things as szechuan spicy frogs and chengdu spicy & aromatic pigs blood, fish w pickled mustard green, etc. I suspect this is their more authentic fare.

                                1. re: scoopG

                                  There were no Sichuan peppercorns in our Kung Pao dish, but the Fish with Wild Chili Peppers had the distinct citrus flavor and mouth numbing characteristics of Sichuan peppercorns. It was also topped with about 50 dried chili peppers and was sitting in a pool of chili oil. It was good but too hot and numbing for me to enjoy.

                                  1. re: Quince

                                    Ahh I love anything swimming in a red sea of Szechuan Peppercorns and chile oil. They even deliver for a minimum of $15.00 which is excellent news!

                                    1. re: Fudist

                                      Quince said there was no presence of Sichuan peppercorns in his/her dish though! The numbing (ma) heat (la) in Kung Pao comes from the Sichuan peppercorns and dried chili peppers, not from any use of chili paste or chili oil. My problem is two-fold. For one I usually stay in downtown Minneapolis (sometimes St. Paul) when there and Roseville would be a hike. Secondly, Szechuan's menu is fully 40-50% Americanized Chinese dishes whereas Little Szechuan has a scant few American-Chinese dishes.

                                      1. re: scoopG

                                        Well, there certainly was an abundance of Sichuan peppercorns in the Fish with Wild Chili Peppers dish, just not in the Kung Pao Chicken.

                                        1. re: Quince

                                          Kung Pao requires Sichuan peppercorns. Again, there are far too many American-Chinese dishes on the menu here to wrest me away from Little Szechuan.

                                        2. re: scoopG

                                          I know I was just making a general statement. The Fish with Wild Chili Pepper dish sounds similar to the Pork In Spicy Szechuan Broth at Little Szechuan which is my all time favorite dish ever.

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

                                2. Went last Wednesday and it was amazing. Good Dan Dan noodles and spiced mild or as hot as you want it. would and will go again

                                  19 Replies
                                  1. re: liney714

                                    Little Szechuan in St. Paul uses plenty of Bell peppers and MSG....For REAL Chinese food one must go to.Authentic New York City which has many Sichuan restaurants that ban americanized ingredients and have authentic chefs. I too am dismayed at restaurants like Szechuan in Roseville serving 48.55% americanized fare.

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

                                    1. re: kriminalrat

                                      kriminal rat, I think I love you...........for being the only other person ever to complain about msg on here. I agree totally re: Little Szechuan being overloaded with it and find it interesting that you say NYC has many authentic restos that ban americanized ingredients.

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

                                      1. re: faith

                                        You would be hard pressed to find a Chinese restaurant in NYC that does not use MSG. Only one in Manhattan's Chinatown (out of some 200+) proclaims that it does not. I have not seen any "No MSG" signs in Flushing either. Little Szechuan is as good as it gets in the Twin Cities (so far that I have found) for Chinese fare.

                                      2. re: kriminalrat

                                        Wow, I have to hop on here quick to deflect that blanket statement made without any kind of verification or authority. I lived in NYC for years and ate at all the sichuan restaurants there weekly, including Grand Sichuan ones. Still do, often. A: a chef from one of those restaurants moved here to open one of our own Sichuan restaurants. Not sure which one, but read about it in the Pi Press. I don't understand the whole 50 percent americanized thing cuz the NYC restaurants also offer an American portion to their menu and the $4 lunches sure are nothing but the buffet food you'd find anywhere.

                                        Sorry this is an issue close to my heart. I gotta defend the recent MN cropping of Sichuan restaurants as being awesome. We are very, very lucky to have them. All of them use peppercorns except during that ban a few years ago. Then not even the NYC restaurants could get peppercorns.

                                        1. re: jeanmt

                                          I've found Little Szechuan, then Tea House to have the best Sichuan fare in the Twin Cities to date. Tian Jin (Chanhassen) and that year old Sichuan restaurant in Bloomington are third rate. Despite the ban a few years ago on the importation of Sichuan peppercorns they still could be purchased in NYC - they were just not labeled. Yes one can get bad Chinese food in NYC, even bad Americanized Chinese food in Chinatown. Szechuan Gourmet (in Manhattan) and Little Pepper and Spicy and Tasty (in Flushing) are the standard bearers of Sichuan cuisine in NYC and present no Americanized dishes like egg rolls, fried wontons etc. I am not seeing any evidence so far that this Roseville Sichuan spot is a desired destination restaurant.

                                          1. re: scoopG

                                            You know, I adore Little Szechuan and Tea House and probably always will prefer them becaus they are my first loves.

                                            I loved China Jen, too, for different reasons and am sad it's gone.

                                            But, don't you think some of the dishes that the new Szechuan in Roseville has on its menu seem like they could be pretty authentic? For instance, stymie mentioned above "szechuan spicy frogs and chengdu spicy & aromatic pigs blood, fish w pickled mustard green?"

                                            Not to disparage suburbs or the people who live in them (I've been a suburb-dweller at various points in my life), but I'm wondering if Szechuan in Roseville deliberately put some more Americanized stuff on its menu to appeal to a broader audience, but might still offer some hard core authentic dishes for those who are interested?

                                            I mean szechuan spicy frogs and chengdu spicy & aromatic pigs blood do seem pretty compelling.

                                            ~TDQ

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

                                            China Jen Restaurant
                                            2193 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55113

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              Yes they do have frog and I think even rabbit - it is just that fully 40% of the rest of the menu is Americanized Chinese. My issue is, staying say in downtown Minneapolis, why trek all the way to Roseville when I can see how Tea House in Plymouth or Little Szechuan is holding up? It might be the best Chinese in Roseville (like Tian Jian is the best in Chanhassen) but not true destination Chinese restaurants. I do not mean to disparage the suburbs either -I am just looking for reasons why some place there has replaced TH or LS. The Twin Cities Sichuan scene will truly come of age when I see 1,000 Year Old Eggs (Pi Dan) in Hot Sauce or Wood Ears in Vinegar on the menu!

                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                I'm not going to argue with you about the merits of Szechuan vs. either Tea House or Little Szechuan because I've not eaten there. But there really is no difference in travel time between downtown Minneapolis and Roseville, Frogtown in St. Paul, or Plymouth.

                                                It's great that you want to continue with Little Szechuan, but distance should not be the reason for avoiding the new place.

                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                  I would not call Szechuan in Roseville a destination restaurant. Tea House Saint Paul has better food. I haven't been to Little Szechuan yet, but I am guessing it will probably rank above Szechuan, as you suspect. It's pretty exciting for Roseville though, an area pretty low on culinary thrills unless you happen to love chain restaurants.

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

                                                  1. re: Quince

                                                    Thanks Quince. I am always on the lookout for a Chinese restaurant that might be better than LS! And I have enjoyed my meals there in the past.

                                          2. re: kriminalrat

                                            kriminalrat, have you even been there? I would be will to bet not, because Americanized fare as you state, makes up less than a third of the dishes.

                                            1. re: doctor k

                                              My feeling is that these restaurants (and even Spicy and Tasty for the lunch thingee) throw a few Americanized easy-to-make or defrost (egg rolls) things on their menus. I don't care. We went to Fasika the other day and one of our party ordered chicken nuggets. They were blatantly thrown in the fish-frying oil to deep fry and tasted of fish and were nasty. But that's what you get!!! It's on there for the picky eaters or the ones who expect American fare.

                                              1. re: bob s

                                                I have never eaten at a Sichuan restaurant in NYC...I am just drinking the kool aid that they have the best most authentic Sichuan in the world.

                                                I have to admit I am perplexed by the current discussions of the current Sichuan situation in Minnesota.

                                                Fact: Tea House Plymouth was the first restaurant in Minnesota to serve authentic Sichuan cuisine…as far as I know. I know this because I first started going there around 7 years ago after a friend of mine who is from Chengdu (The capital city of Sichuan Province) told me the chef at TH was from Chengdu and was making excellent food.

                                                To be honest I don’t understand why New Yorkers claim their Chinese to be the best in the world. If Minnesota gets a great chef from Chengdu and sources top rate ingredients why can’t it be just as good or better the NYC fare…unless the NYC water myth is true.

                                                Chef Luo who I explained above started the renaissance in Sichuan cooking in Minneapolis now started Grand Szechuan in Bloomington. I read that Andrew Zimmern who is a very knowledgeable critic that has traveled China extensively has stated that Little Sichuan has gone downhill. I have no idea of the pedigree of the cooks that replaced Luo at LS and I haven’t been there lately so I can’t comment. LS was the standard after Luo left TH Plymouth. Zimmern confirmed my suspicions as he readily travels far to GS as he lives in St Paul close to LS.

                                                Tian Jin was never a Sichuan restaurant. The chef there is trained in Sichuan cooking but specializes in Northern Chinese cooking. Tian Jin is very close to Beijing.

                                                As far as Sichuan in Roseville having Americanized fare…to be honest I could care less. If people want to use a buffet, go ahead. If a Chinese restauraunt wants to open in Minnesota and actually make money, then egg rolls and cheese puffs are a necessary evil.

                                                I am elated at the fact that Minneapolis has so many choices and restaurants like Szechuan in Roseville that serves dishes like aromatic pigs blood. New Yorkers can have there best authentic restaurants and us Minnesotans can smile knowing we have the same and with quality of life to boot.

                                                1. re: kriminalrat

                                                  I never said NYC had the best Sichuan food – you did earlier on the thread. Nor have I seen anyone make the claim that NYC had the “most authentic Sichuan in the world.” The best Chinese food in America is found in the San Gabriel Valley, the Bay area of San Francisco and in NYC where large numbers of the Chinese diaspora have settled in the USA. And a majority of the 3.5 million Chinese-Americans are found in just five states (CA, CT, NY, PA and TX.) The Twin Cities lack the critical mass of Chinese people required to support and maintain the high quality of Chinese cuisine that is found in the SGV, NYC etc.

                                                  Long before Teahouse opened there was the Mandarin Yen in Wayzata. They served Sichuan dishes 30 years ago, long before Chef Luo arrived. The popularity of Sichuan (and other cuisines) coincided with the normalization of relations with the PRC in 1979, when China was allowed to send up to 20,000 immigrants per year. Andrew Zimmern’s knowledge of Chinese cuisine is quite modest at best. He neither speaks Mandarin nor reads or writes Chinese. Have you ever eaten at Tian Jin? They certainly did claim that they were serving up Sichuan fare.

                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5980...

                                                  What other great options are there for Chinese food in Minneapolis? Or are you confusing Minneapolis for the Twin Cities?

                                                  1. re: Fudist

                                                    Amen. I have not been back to MN in almost a year. Glad to hear LS is still on the top of their game.

                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                      I guess I should be glad the Sichuan scene in the Twin Cities has grown so much and so wonderfully some can diss certain restaurants out of hand without trying them because a few of the dishes seem "Americanized" from their appearance on the menu. But the whole argument is beyond me.

                                                      I am still not sure why a few dishes on the menu to appeal to all patrons, especially in a white suburban location, should elicit scorn?

                                                      1. re: jeanmt

                                                        I like Little Szechuan. Very few Americanized items on their menu and no buffet. Tea House is #2. Menus are like window storefronts: they reveal what the place is selling. Like I said before, I am sure this new place is great for Roseville like Tian Jin is for Chanhassen. What I am not seeing so far is a compelling reason or evidence to drive 30-45 minutes to find out.

                                                    2. re: scoopG

                                                      Mandarin Yen, wow, flashback, prior to Mandarin Yen my only taste of Chinese was Chix Chow Mein, sigh. Mandarin Yen was just east of Hwy 169 (then Hwy 18), attached to a tiny Motel and Bowling alley, a real hoot.
                                                      A Chinese engineer from Control Data opened the place out of frustation in not being able to get the real stuff. Pork Peking style and Shanghai Beef were my favs. I'd get there late when all the staff were starting to eat. I asked about what they were having and they just laughed at me, "you wouldn't like it". I used to pile up the hot peppers on the side of my plate and one of the waiters would grab them and pop them all in his mouth. I was crushed when the place was lost to the 393/169 clover-leaf, like losing a good friend. One day, years later, walking to my car after a movie, an old, familiar, delicious aroma hit me, The Tea House found me. They even have Shredded Pork Peking Style. Thanks for the flashback Scoop.

                                                      1. re: stymie

                                                        I love that - "you wouldn't like it!"

                                          3. So, based on exactly one visit, below is my inexpert, unscientific comparison of Szechuan to Little Szechuan. I'm not going to lay out my creds--how many times I've cooked and eaten Szechuan food in how many cities, and on how many coasts and continents and so on--because there's always going to be someone who knows more than me, and someone who knows less. Besides, I know no one gives a damn anyway. I don't speak, read, or write Mandarin. This is just based on my personal tastes. Also, I am not bothered by MSG (as far as I know) and I can't really honestly say I can tell with any certainly whether it's in a dish or not.

                                            1. Scallion pancakes--despite warnings from previous posters, I ordered them at Szechuan. Shouldn't have. They were greasy and rubbery. Mistake.. Little Szechuan doesn't have them at all (I don't think); I loved China Jen's. I'd call this a tie, I guess, or just a strike against Szechuan.

                                            2. Dan dan noodles. I didn't like the too sweet taste of the sauce at Szechuan, and I missed having the pinch of chopped peanuts on top. L.S. wins, for sure.

                                            3. Stir fried green beans with pickled vegetable. I'd call this a tie. I like both versions.

                                            4. Fish fillet with spicy tasty broth. Tough call. Both versions are spicy, numbingly tingly, unctuously swimming in ruby red oil, but Szechuan uses big chunks, almost full fillets of fish, whereas Little Szechuan's version has small bits of fish. Still, somehow, I feel Little Szechuan's had more depth of flavor, but maybe this is just bias or familiarity speaking. This is either a tie, or an edge to Sezchuan, or an edge to Little Szechuan, or, I guess a tie.

                                            So, at the end of the day, I'd probably go back to Szechuan if I were in Roseville (and didn't have a hankering for Maverick's, something entirely different.) Since Little Szechuan is more convenient for me and I prefer their dan dan noodles, which is a must have every time I order Szechuan food,, L.S. will probably continue to be my first stop for Szechuan food. But, I think Szechuan has some things to recommend it and I hope people continue to report back on their visits so we can weed out the losers and focus on the winners on their menu.

                                            ~TDQ

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

                                            China Jen Restaurant
                                            2193 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55113

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              Thank you for the insightful report DQ. Just one question did Szechuan's Dan Dan Noodles come topped with minced pork like Little Szechuan's?

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

                                              1. re: Fudist

                                                I think it was minced pork, yes. The pieces were so tiny, I suppose they could have been beef, but I think it was pork.

                                                ~TDQ

                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Thanks for the update! If I am near Roseville next trip I will definitely check them out. It is great to hear from hounds like yourself who have been to both (if not more) LS and S....

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Thanks for the review TDQ. Being able to read or write in Manadarin has nothing to do with one's ability to judge whether food is good or bad. I'm pretty sure that all the Michelin critic's aren't able to speak in multi languages. I miss the fish fillet in spicy broth from Teahouse Plymouth. In it's heyday it was incredible.

                                                  1. re: kriminalrat

                                                    Finally got around to giving this place a shot. I ordered their take on my go to dish at LS Pork in Spicy Szechuan Broth, which in this case is called Boiled Pork in Szechuan Hot Sauce. I gotta say it wasn't bad. Not on par with Little Szechuan however. The dish was plenty spicy and had a generous amount of pork but for me it lacked the depth of flavor I'm used to from Little Szechuan. I also didn't like the over abundance of fresh uncooked bean sprouts they used. Overall on a scale from 1-10 I'd give the dish a 6. Also tried Szechaun Style Cucumber which I didn't care for at all, pretty much just cucumber moons marinated in rice wine vinegar and sesame seed oil. These guys do however deliver for only a $2 dollar fee and a $15 dollar minimum. Also keep in mind I am in the Mac-Groveland area so they will travel with resonable speed as well. I will be trying these folks out again for sure as there some menu items I am interested in. Peking Duck comes to mind right away. However nothing yet has eclipsed my affinity for Little Szechuan, at least not yet.

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

                                                    1. re: Fudist

                                                      Thanks for your update. Since I compare any Twin City Chinese restaurant to LS, it is good to read of another hound who does as well. Based on my one visit to GS last year I thought the same as you. I am always looking for for a reason to abandon LS and seek greener beans....

                                                2. I don't care if the food is prepared by Buddah himself, I went there for lunch today and the service was absolutely ridiculous. The waitress had nothing even remotely resembling the most basic command of English (And mind you I am patient...I spent many years dining in Chinatown dives). I ordered Vegetable Dumplings and Salt and Pepper Shrimp. First, I received MEAT Dumplings (And I do not eat pork...good thing I checked them out before I it into them). The waitress took them back, but then of course the entree came out before the proper dumplings got delivered. I could live with this, if the entree was the correct order, but instead of Salt and Pepper Shrimp, I received Shrimp with Asparagus. One mistake I can live with, but this was ridiculous. I called the host over (who had a solid command of English) and explained to him that I would be leaving. How is the food? I do not know...the Sprite I consumed had a nice proportion of ice to soda...but I am not risking Pot Luck by ever trying this place again.

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                                                  Szechuan restaurant
                                                  2193 Snelling Ave N., Roseville, MN 55113

                                                  1. Heard they do a nice Peking Duck. Would like to hear how it was.

                                                    1. I ate at Szechuan recently with my girlfriend, and we walked in expecting it to be the standard Americanized version of a Chinese restaurant. However, we were shocked and delighted to find an authentic representation of Szechuan provence cuisine.

                                                      We had the shredded pork with bamboo tips, and the Szechuan chicken - and while the pork was great (pleasant woodsy notes from the bamboo), I found the chicken to be under-seasoned.

                                                      The service was great, and we intend to go back and try it again, once the Minnesota winter permits us to leave the house.

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                                                      Szechuan restaurant
                                                      2193 Snelling Ave N., Roseville, MN 55113