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A table is set with a fork, spoon, and chopsticks on a saucer next to a large bowl of noodles topped with scallions, sliced bell peppers, in a dark broth
A bowl of the hand-pulled noodles from Magic Noodle
Magic Noodle/Website

7 Twin Cities Chinese Food Restaurants That Go Beyond the Sweet and Sour

Hand-pulled noodles, dumplings tucked into fiery sauce, puffy stuffed buns, and more

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A bowl of the hand-pulled noodles from Magic Noodle
| Magic Noodle/Website

The scope, breadth, and depth of complexity of Chinese cuisine is tough to recreate in any one menu. Throughout the Twin Cities there are several restaurants serving regional dishes that together make up a small taste of the incredible food found in the massive country. Whether enjoying Cantonese or Sichuan near the University of Minnesota or tracking down dim sum in Bloomington, there is a wealth of incredible food to be found around the Twin Cities that go beyond the American Chinese menu dominated by sweet and sour.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Shuang Cheng

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1320 4th St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 378-0208
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This restaurant is an icon of the Dinkytown area specializing in Cantonese cuisine. It’s affordable for college students and the flavors bring Chinese immigrants a taste of home.

2. Tea House Chinese Restaurant

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2425 University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 331-8866
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There are two Tea House locations, but the one near the University of Minnesota is the place to order exceptional dumplings from. There’s a good amount of numbing peppercorns and just enough sweetness in the Sichuan dumplings to make them just about impossible to stop eating until the whole order is gone.

3. Lao Sze Chuan

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304 SE Oak St
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 886-3906
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For those who miss the original iteration of Little Szechuan on University Avenue, this restaurant near the University of Minnesota retains some of those recipes, like the Geshalan Ma La chicken, little nubs of fried chicken nestled into garlic, ginger, scallions, and a mountain of dried peppers.

4. Magic Noodle

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1337 University Ave W
St Paul, MN 55104
(651) 369-6688
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Fans of hand-pulled noodles had a bit of a freak out when Magic Noodle first opened. There aren’t many places to get the tender/chewy good in the Twin Cities and from the start, Magic Noodle exceeded high expectations.

5. Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar

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2739 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 870-7084
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Chef-owner Tammy Wong is a beloved figure in the Minneapolis food world and her family-run restaurant has been serving American-style Chinese food to generations of Minneapolis residents. No order from here is complete without a batch of her signature, crackling-crusted egg rolls, and the Sichuan wontons, a savory (and not at all spicy) tender noodle wrapper cradling shrimp and pork smothered in a rich black bean sauce.

6. Cheng’s Garden

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3023 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 821-1111
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The fires and unrest of this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s killing almost claimed this tiny mom-and-pop shop in a strip mall on Nicollet Avenue. The gas station behind it still hasn’t returned. However, Cheng’s Garden continues to serve the best fried rice found in the cities and orange chicken that bears little resemblance to the food court iteration. Expect hunks of chicken breast breaded and served in a sweet, spicy sauce with leaves of charred orange peel.

7. Mandarin Kitchen

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8766 Lyndale Ave S
Bloomington, MN 55420
(952) 884-5356
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There is a dearth of dim sum options in the Twin Cities, which is why Mandarin Kitchen was often packed with people from all over the metro area. Now, in the lockdown days, it’s best to place a takeaway order and recreate the carts at home.

1. Shuang Cheng

1320 4th St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

This restaurant is an icon of the Dinkytown area specializing in Cantonese cuisine. It’s affordable for college students and the flavors bring Chinese immigrants a taste of home.

1320 4th St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

2. Tea House Chinese Restaurant

2425 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

There are two Tea House locations, but the one near the University of Minnesota is the place to order exceptional dumplings from. There’s a good amount of numbing peppercorns and just enough sweetness in the Sichuan dumplings to make them just about impossible to stop eating until the whole order is gone.

2425 University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

3. Lao Sze Chuan

304 SE Oak St, Minneapolis, MN 55414

For those who miss the original iteration of Little Szechuan on University Avenue, this restaurant near the University of Minnesota retains some of those recipes, like the Geshalan Ma La chicken, little nubs of fried chicken nestled into garlic, ginger, scallions, and a mountain of dried peppers.

304 SE Oak St
Minneapolis, MN 55414

4. Magic Noodle

1337 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104

Fans of hand-pulled noodles had a bit of a freak out when Magic Noodle first opened. There aren’t many places to get the tender/chewy good in the Twin Cities and from the start, Magic Noodle exceeded high expectations.

1337 University Ave W
St Paul, MN 55104

5. Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar

2739 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Chef-owner Tammy Wong is a beloved figure in the Minneapolis food world and her family-run restaurant has been serving American-style Chinese food to generations of Minneapolis residents. No order from here is complete without a batch of her signature, crackling-crusted egg rolls, and the Sichuan wontons, a savory (and not at all spicy) tender noodle wrapper cradling shrimp and pork smothered in a rich black bean sauce.

2739 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408

6. Cheng’s Garden

3023 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

The fires and unrest of this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s killing almost claimed this tiny mom-and-pop shop in a strip mall on Nicollet Avenue. The gas station behind it still hasn’t returned. However, Cheng’s Garden continues to serve the best fried rice found in the cities and orange chicken that bears little resemblance to the food court iteration. Expect hunks of chicken breast breaded and served in a sweet, spicy sauce with leaves of charred orange peel.

3023 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408

7. Mandarin Kitchen

8766 Lyndale Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55420

There is a dearth of dim sum options in the Twin Cities, which is why Mandarin Kitchen was often packed with people from all over the metro area. Now, in the lockdown days, it’s best to place a takeaway order and recreate the carts at home.

8766 Lyndale Ave S
Bloomington, MN 55420

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