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Dec 18, 2011 11:48 AM

Authentic Chinese?

What restaurant in the whole metro area and suburbs serves the most authentic Chinese food?

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  1. Little Szechuan – St. Paul:

    Grand Szechuan – Bloomington:

    Szechuan Spice – South Minneapolis:

    Edit: Evergreen, the Taiwanese Vegetarian place on Nicollet Avenue is worthy as well.

    6 Replies
      1. re: scoopG

        I agree on every one of these choices.

        1. re: scoopG

          I took my fiancée (who is from Shanghai) and a friend of hers who is from Hunan province to Little Szechuan, and they both said that their food is authentic Chinese. I highly recommend the fish fillet in spicy tofu broth, spicy and numbing. Their portions are quite large. We ordered 4 dishes for those two ladies, my mom and me. We had plenty left over for another meal for 3 people, and I am a pretty hearty eater.

          1. re: martyw71

            We love LS's fish fillet in spicy tofu broth (they used to call this dish fish fillet in spicy tasty broth)--so so so good! We also always get the fried green beans (I'm embarrassed to admit that these are even great even cold as leftovers!) and dan dan noodles.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Man, the dry sauteed green beans are so awesome. I'm also a huge fan of those.

            2. re: martyw71

              I love "fish filet" or white fish in black bean sauce...but that spice tasty broth sounds like it might bring me in to LS! I'm currently looking forward to using a groupon at Tea House in St. Louis Park.

          2. I can't tell if it's truly authentic. It's been awhile since I've been to Hong Kong but I like a lot.

            1. Keefer Court reminds me of a little place I visited in Hong Kong (a very long time ago).


              1 Reply
                1. re: kriminalrat


                  They are on what, their 3rd or 4th owner in four years?

                  Ate there recently - and while it is better than the original with a totally revamped menu - it is not a destination Twin City Chinese restaurant. Fuller and more detailed review to follow of course.

                  1. re: scoopG

                    i don't know where you get your misinformation from but the restaurant has changed owners only once. Your opinion of it not being a destination Chinese restaurant is your own. I know of many Chinese that place it at the top of the list for restaurants in town. I know you think highly of Little Szechuan but I believe you are in the minority as of late. I have seen many negative...PROFESSIONAL reviews.

                    1. re: kriminalrat

                      Let's see Ryan (from Tianjin) opened the place early in 2009 and by November of that year had sold the place. Current owner, a Ms. Chen (from Beijing) then bought the place. I write my own professional reviews. See above - I have written about more than just Little Szechuan. On the other hand, you only seem to tout Tianjin. Tianjin is OK if you are in the Chanhassen area but certainly not worth an hour in traffic from Minneapolis or St. Paul.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        It is disturbing that chains like Leann Chin have educated diners on what Chinese food is. Scoop, I encourage you to go to Tian Jin and order things like Yan Shan Liang Fen and Shrimp Gluten. These dishes are passed over by Americans because of their unique texture but this is what Chinese people order. Also many americans scoff at intestines, tripe, tounge, etc...but Tian Jin has one of the most extensive selections of offal in the cities. Once again these dishes are what a real Chinese diner would order. Another dish I reccommend is tounge in preserved mustard plant...a unique dish I haven't seen anywhere else.

                        Also, please look down at one of my posts regarding other Chinese restaraunts. I most certainly have not just touted Tian Jin...I have enjoyed many others like Teahouse, LS, GS depending on kitchen staff. Also please note I know of many sales people from China who work at Asian foods (the major asian food distributor) and live in Mpls/STP and regularly make the trek to Tian Jin.

                        There is more out there then General Tao chicken!

                        1. re: kriminalrat

                          On my recent visit I sampled nine dishes and will eventually post about it. While the menu (and food!) has improved under Ms. Chen, I still believe the kitchen is cook-driven, not chef driven. She actually has reduced the number of American-Chinese dishes. Yes, I see below your comments on GS!

                          1. re: kriminalrat

                            Your post prompted me to re-try Tian Jin today after a pretty miserable visit around a year and a half ago. Service then was horrible to the point of us having to seek out our own utensils from the buffet, despite ordering off the menu. The woman who supposedly was waiting on our table was surly and rude. Total turn-off and the food was nothing special bordering on bland. I had basically written the place off of our list.

                            Our visit today was totally the opposite. The interior appears a bit tired and off, but the service and food were perfect. The young woman who greeted us and waited on our table was so genuinely pleasant and helpful it set the tone for the whole meal. Though not very busy, she was running all the tables and took the time to find a special table for my mother who is in a wheelchair. She even ran to open doors for us on this chiily day.

                            My mom and husband are less adventurous than I am food-wise, so we placed an order for the Chong King Spicy Chicken and Shredded Pork with Szechuan Garlic Sauce. The food arrived after about 10 minutes steaming hot and fragrant. The server warned us about the spice level and I giggled and said bring it on! Luckily, mom and the husband have a tolerance for spice despite their disdain for tofu and other things they consider exotic.

                            The Chong King chicken had a very crispy (I assume cornstarch?) batter but the dark meat inside was juicy and flavorful. The chicken squirted yummy juice when I bit into it, it was that good in relation to crispy outside, moist inside. The Szechuan peppercorns were evident in their numbing effect and overall just a good flavor profile. The usual red and green bell peppers and scallions were there. The same as almost everywhere. I had this dish recently at Tea House in Plymouth. I have to say Tian Jin's version was just a little bit better, and I love Tea House.

                            The pork with Szechuan garlic sauce was more interesting to me. It was spicier and included big pieces of black mushrooms that added a lot of flavor to the dish. I cook all the time at home and don't get how those yummy pieces of shredded pork are so tender. I didn't ask, but it seems to me they must use pork belly. It was so succulent and melt in your mouth.

                            My non-foodie, but spicy, family was very pleased. I'm dying to try their version of Ma Po Tofu which sounds so good. Maybe takeout some day soon.

                            1. re: justalex

                              Thanks for the review...The best thing the new owner did was clean up the service situation. The original owners had HORRIBLE service I hate to say.

                              1. re: kriminalrat

                                About to dig into the carry out boxes now for dinner. I forgot to mention the portions are quite large, though we're kind of the grazer types. Thank you for inspiring me to try the place again. I know our menu choices were not outside of the box. Can you describe the shrimp in gluten sauce? Also, have you tried the shredded five spice dry tofu? I meant to ask the server but was distracted by a question from my mother at the time. TIA

                              2. re: justalex

                                I'm pleased to read this review too. I live really close and we tried it once - the service and food were greatly lacking at that time,

                    2. Been singing the praises of Rainbow on Nicollet for years. Little Szechuan in St Paul may have returned to it's glory years of about 6 years ago...

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: Maggie19

                        I just read a pretty dismal review of little szechuan in the city pages. Looks like the authenticity left when the head chef left to start grand szechuan

                        1. re: kriminalrat

                          The City Pages review was of their new location in St. Louis Park - I've only been to the new location once, but agree that they're trying to cater to a different crowd (i.e., very different menu than the St. Paul location). The location in St. Paul is still great in my mind.

                          1. re: mull0263

                            Yes you are correct, looks like it was the SLP location. Note to reviewer...Please don't go to a Szechuan restaurant and order cream cheese wontons and egg rolls to review.

                        2. re: Maggie19

                          Really Maggie 19? Can you provide a link to your Rainbow review(s)? Little Szechuan still not too shabby based on my recent visit.


                          1. re: scoopG

                            Hey scoopG - never reviewed Rainbow. I've just been going there over the past decade and I can count on it's consistency, so I like it. Cool bar/drinks to boot.

                            1. re: Maggie19

                              at the risk of coming off bitchy..... has rainbow done anything recently to make its menu more "authentic chinese" (per thread title) and less.... "panda express on nicer dishes?" i used to live within blocks, ten years ago, and i'd stop in for a couple of american-chinese items, occasionally, but i think of the place as a half-notch up from pings. and i used to work for the family that owns pings, fwiw.

                              i am honestly asking. i respect that the owners of rainbow have tried to use better ingredients than great dragon and its ilk, and there could be many things to like about the restaurant, but "rainbow chinese" and "authentic" aren't really compatible terms, imo, unless i'm seriously missing something. otoh i really haven't been there in quite some time....

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                Oh, soupkitten, your question isn't any bitchier than mine: how do those of us in the US even know what's authentic unless we've travelled widely in China? ;)

                                1. re: Rowdy

                                  hey i don't really mind being "bitchy"... i just want to know what to order at rainbow chinese! ;-P

                                  1. re: Rowdy

                                    Or Taiwan, Hongkong, Singapore, Vancouver, Toronto, the San Gabriel Valley, the Bay area and NYC. There are some serious issues in China today, namely corruption, pollution and food safety concerns.

                                    1. re: Rowdy

                                      I grew up eating Cantonese dishes, so I know what to expect though I am not an expert. But I wouldn't have a clue about Szechuan dishes, apart from maybe dumplings and such (e.g. skin shouldn't be too thick, fillings should be flavorful etc).

                                      1. re: Ummm

                                        Do you have a favorite go-to Cantonese spot in the Twin Cities Ummm? Peking Garden menu has some interest but there are also enough American-Chinese dishes to scare me away! I realize restaurants have to offer what sells but the fewer American-Chinese dishes on the menu, the better for me.

                                        1. re: scoopG

                                          I don't live in the TC and don't go there often... hence don't get to try as many as I'd like! I'd only eaten at the ex-Jun Bo (dim sum, blah), United Noodles for Udon, and Evergreen. I want to try Keefers. Well I guess the restaurants having SOME authentic dishes on the menu is better than none. My mother-in-law would probably starve if we go to one without Americanized dishes lol. I wonder what the Cantonese population is in the TC, they probably don't have that info as all are prob lump as Chinese or Asian.

                                          1. re: Ummm

                                            Thanks. I feel Keefers is a good choice for lunch - or a casual dinner. Not sure what the Cantonese population in the metro area is.

                                  2. re: Maggie19

                                    Maggie19, it should be on my list. It does look to have a fair number of American-Chinese dishes as soupkitten points out and some of the traditional (Twice Cooked Pork, Kung Pao Chicken) dishes on their menu seem to be loaded up with non traditional ingredients. They seem to be trying for more upscale fare: menu prices are rounded up and they serve fancy cocktails.

                                    1. re: scoopG

                                      Yes - it seems that I missed the word authentic.... I still like the place for a few dishes, and the bartneders know what their doing. Little Szechuan would be my choice for authentic. Rainbow needs a refresher course in Asian peppers and heat in general.