Although the majority of Chinese restaurants focus on Sino-American cuisine for the local market, there are a handful of locations in the Twin Cities that receive high marks from the Chinese expatriate population for authenticity and taste.
For Sichuanese food, Grand Szechuan (10602 France Av. S., Bloomington) and Little Szechuan (422 W. University Av., St. Paul ) are favorites.
Anything “mala” is a good choice at Grand Szechuan. Mala refers to the two dominant peppers in Sichuan food, the spicy “la” of the red pepper and the lip-numbing “ma” of the peppercorn. Mapo Tofu (minced beef and peanuts with tofu and chili sauce), DanDan noodles and Chengdu Bobo Chicken are all solid dishes. The Mala Pot with pork and assorted veggies is amazing.
At Little Szechuan, grab a “Yin Yang” pot, which is half red pepper spiciness and half non-spicy chicken broth, and then grab as many plates of food as you can to toss into the boiling cauldron. Duck intestines and beef stomach are staples, as are thin strips of beef, chicken kidneys, “tofu skin” and lotus root. The Sichuanese barbecue skewers served here are the real deal.
For Cantonese food, the favorite is the Mandarin Kitchen (8766 Lyndale Av. S., Bloomington), which specializes in seafood straight out of the tank and a variety of dim sum options on the weekend. Other than the seafood, try the char siu pork.
The Teahouse (2425 University Av. SE., Mpls. ) has a very authentic brunch on Sunday and also serves great Shanghai Pork Buns. Try the Beef Noodles at Little Szechuan (304 SE. Oak St., Mpls.); the chef is from Sichuan and swears by his spicy beef broth.