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Visitors from China

We are hosting visitors from China next week and wonder if anyone can recommend somewhere to take them in the White Bear Lake/Stillwater area. We may be bringing our 3 & 8 year old so kid-friendly is helpful. Thanks!

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  1. Where in China are they from? Are you looking for a place that serves food that is reminiscent of their home province, or something else?

    4 Replies
    1. re: KTFoley

      Thanks for replying! They are from Shanghai and Shenzhen. I was thinking local/American.

      1. re: WBLMom

        Ahhh, that's really good to know!

        Are they here for business, school or another purpose? That would probably affect the level/style of restaurant at which they'd feel well taken care of. The only food thing that seemed to be consistently true in my visit to China was that raw vegetables, including garnishes and salads, are looked at askance. It's just not done.

        Was going to suggest Roman Anthony's in WBL, but I am not sure that it's kid-friendly.

        If you find yourself leaning toward "Chinese" cuisine, then it would be good to confirm whether your visitors' home language is Cantonese, as is more typical of the southern provinces, or Mandarin. If it's Cantonese, then you can discard most recommendations that pepper (!) this board for restaurants that refer to Szechuan cuisine -- their culture and food styles are quite different. Students & family might enjoy Village Wok (many cuisines, not much in the way of fancy decor, I believe that Cantonese is spoken) while business guests might appreciate the Tea House in Dinky Town (Shanghai dim sum options in addition to all the Szechuan stuff, full bar, beautiful inside).

        Village Wok
        610 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

        1. re: KTFoley

          The only food thing that seemed to be consistently true in my visit to China was that raw vegetables, including garnishes and salads, are looked at askance. It's just not done.

          Really that depends where you are in China. China is as diverse as Europe. In Qingdao last fall, I was served raw vegetables, (including scallions and white onions) that were then to be dipped in Tian Mian Jiang paste. Very Refreshing. Here’s a photo of the bean paste:


          Everyone in China speaks Mandarin, the national language. Cantonese is only used in Guangzhou Province, Shanghainese in Shanghai, Sichunaese in Sichuan etc. Shenzhen is in Guangzhou. My guess is that the OP is hosting 1-2 people from Shenzhen and 1-2 from Shanghai.

          1. re: KTFoley

            Have you been to Roman Anthony's? We have yet to try it even though it is in our backyard. All of the previous restaurants have been duds in that same location, so I guess we are waiting to hear some positive feedback first.

      2. How old are they? Do you think that they are looking for "American" foods like hamburgers and pizza? Or possibly BBQ? For how long will they be here?

        1. The last Chinese visitors my family hosted liked the idea of pizza but hated the real thing. (Cheese wasn't their thing.) Me, I'd take them to a "classic" American place. Too bad that Micky's Diner isn't closer to WBL/Stillwater!

          Maybe Keys for some classic American comfort food - but I don't know if the WBL Keys is one of the "good" ones (the Raymond Ave Keys is not) - and warn them about the huge portion sizes.

          I've never been to Ursula's Wine Bar or Ingredients Cafe, but something like that might be a nice taste of upscale Americana...

          Ursula's Wine Bar & Cafe
          2125 4th St, White Bear Lake, MN 55110

          1. 3 (now 4) Seasons in Mahtomedi is about as local/American as you can get and it's definitely kid friendly.

            There's always Donatelli Bros but ever since it was on TV it's a little more popular and probably a bit more crowded than it was before.

            1. My former co-workers from HK all LOVED chicken wings. Not necessarily buffalo, but wings in general. I can't say what the best ones are in your neck of the woods, but there is a Buffalo Wild Wings near the Maplewood Mall. As far as kid friendly, think some nights are free for kids...:)

              1. I think you would do your guests a big favor by taking them to the Tea House in St. Paul (Maplewood?) And added plus is that Chinese restaurants are always kid-friendly.



                8 Replies
                1. re: scoopG

                  It's a date night! We've booked a sitter and are excited to try the Tea House. When we take them out next week they will have been here over a week so may be ready for some dumplings. It will be fun to experience this restaurant with them. Thanks for the tip scoopG and thank you to everyone for your suggestions!

                  1. re: scoopG

                    I really enjoy eating at The Tea House. That said, I'd only take them to the Tea House if they asked for a Chinese restaurant. I mean, really, would you go looking for a burger and fries joint on your trip to China? Not me, I want to eat the local food...the stuff I can't get at home.

                    Imagining, for a second, if I were a Chinese visitor to the Twin Cities, I think I'd rather go to Big Daddy's BBQ, Brasa, The Birchwood, The Blue Door, The Strip Club or even real Mexican like Los Ocampos near The Tea House. I don't think I'd want anything asian and especially not Chinese, because I could probably do better in China.

                    Birchwood Cafe
                    3311 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

                    The Strip Club
                    378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

                    1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                      In general, Chinese people always prefer eating Chinese food - even if it means eating less than stellar Chinese food away from home. This is for three reasons. One, Chinese people know their Cuisines are the finest in the world in the world, with the greatest sophistication of presentation and depth in flavors. Secondly, a burger and fries represents the very antithesis of Chinese dining: total lack of balance between the Cai (Vegetable and Protein) and Fan (Rice or Bread) portions of any Chinese dining experience. The third reason is that the Chinese know there are Chinese people to be found in every corner of the world and who better to search the available larder with new Chinese friends. WBLMom also gains face with her guests because she is thinking of their needs and desires first.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        And I forgot the most salient point about the Chinese: they eat communally with every dish ordered, shared by everyone at the table. No, "I'll have the Kung Pao Chicken and my wife will have the ..." Also great attention is paid to ensure a wide array of dishes are ordered reflecting a variety in proteins and vegetables as well as in the manner and style of preparation as well as texture and presentation.

                        1. re: scoopG

                          No cheese, not even near the table. I'm a first generation immigrant and still put off "by second hand cheese" after 40 years!

                          The Tea House is a good Chinese restaurant for Minneapolis, but their cooking is a little sloppy if the standard is classic Chinese cuisine. Suggest you take them to Seafood Palace, where every dish taste the way it's supposed to taste. Don't worry about introducing them to local fare, no Chinese ever turns down a Chinese meal.

                          Communal eating is a must. Your best bet is to ask them to order.

                          Seafood Palace Chinese Restaurant
                          2523 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404

                        2. re: scoopG

                          Wow, your 'chinese people' are really narrow in their desire for experiences in the world. Some chinese people (from Beijing and Chendu) I've know for a decade enjoy eating a variety of cuisines from Mexican to Italian to Indian to BBQ.

                          I think trying to generalize about 1.3+ billion people is pretty silly. WBLMom might want to ask her guests if they'd like to sample local cuisine which they may or may not like or go for our best attempts at Chinese.

                          1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                            I'm sure WBLMom's visitors will have been sampling local/American food by the time they go to The Tea House: Quote: "When we take them out next week they will have been here over a week so may be ready for some dumplings." (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7749...) Chinese folks in general I think DO want to have "something Chinese" (putting aside for the moment that "Chinese" covers a great deal of ground and cuisines) or some rice at least once or twice on their travels...

                            Many years ago I was hosting my parents in the Boston area and taking them out to various good eating spots for Italian-American, pure American, this that and the other... and after x days my father begged me for Chinese food and made comments along the lines of how satisfying and tastier [and cheaper :-) ] etc etc it was to eat Chinese food.

                            Hmm, do you ever feel the desire for something that reminds you of home when rambling around a foreign country?

                            You might find this old article amusing... http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s...

                    2. Bayport BBQ if you want to show them American BBQ done right. Make sure to remember cash as they don't accept credit (irony).

                      Bayport BBQ
                      328 5th Ave N, Bayport, MN 55003