I wrote up dim sum at Yangtze a few years ago in my first post on dim sum in the Twin Cities. That post upset some people in the area. There’s a tendency among a subset of Twin Cities foodies and journalists to inflate the state of the local food scene and I took issue then with the notion that dim sum in the Twin Cities deserved high praise. Not only was it not on par in 2014 with dim sum in Denver more than 10 years ago but compared to that in cities in the US with significant Chinese populations, the best dim sum here seemed fourth rate. And that best dim sum here, in our opinion then, was at Yangtze. (Our last meal at Mandarin Kitchen was atrocious.) But it’s not like we like Yangtze enough to make the near two hour round-trip trek unless we have guests who really want to go.
Well, my parents were recently in town and since, as I’ve said before, even fourth rate American dim sum is better than what’s available in Delhi, we made the drive (in pouring rain). And we were hoping that maybe in the time since our last visit things had in fact improved. I am sorry to say that not only did our opinion of Twin Cities dim sum not improve from the experience but our opinion of Yangtze also took a hit.
Despite the weather, they were packed. We got there at about 11 am and it took about half an hour to get a table for six (you can get a sense of the scrum from the pictures below). They have three dining rooms and, unfortunately, we got seated in the largest one at the front. Unfortunate, because by the time most carts got there, the things they carried had become congealed and dry; and also because not everything seemed to get there.
We got a wide range of things—sticking mostly to the steamed end of things—and only a few were acceptable. Into this category fell the steamed tripe (which was piping hot), the shrimp and pork shiu mai and the sticky rice in lotus leaf. The pan-fried turnip cakes weren’t a disaster either (though they were also not very good). In the category of disaster fell the chicken feet (utterly flabby), the congee (watery), the beancurd rolls (sickly sweet), the seaweed salad (also overly sweet) and pretty much all the other dumplings (stuck either to the steamers or to each other; congealed wrappers; dry; or all of the above).
Terrible food deserves terrible photographs and here are my phone camera’s offerings.
The only “good” thing I can say about this is that it only set us back about $19/head (counting our brats as one person) with tax and tip. In the past we’ve paid more here than we would at far better places in L.A and that always stung a little extra. Well, I think we’re done with Yangtze. And unless someone whose experience I have good reason to trust tells me that Mandarin Kitchen has improved dramatically, we’re not going back there either*. That leaves A&L Chinese in Inver Grove Heights. We quite liked our couple of meals there a few years ago (though I only wrote up one). We never went back mostly because the rest of the experience was not very exciting (almost no one else there, a small selection). But if they’re still in business that’s probably where our next local dim sum meal will be. And if they’ve slipped further too then we might be done with dim sum in Minnesota.
My apologies to anyone I may have offended again.
*Do, of course, keep in mind that both Yangtze and Mandarin Kitchen are always slammed for dim sum. Our take is very much an outlier.