Dim Sum at Yangtze, 2023 (St. Louis Park, MN)

I bring shocking news: we went out to eat dim sum in the Twin Cities. Regular readers of the blog know why this is shocking. It is not a secret that we—my family and I—are not fans of the dim sum available in the Twin Cities metro. Despite what a lot of people will tell you, it’s not really very good—both on its own merits and when compared to what’s available in American cities with large Chinese populations. In fact, you don’t even have to compare the local scene with that in Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley to find it lacking; we ate better dim sum in Denver when we lived in Boulder in the early-mid 2000s. In the past, Yangtze in St. Louis Park was the one place we would eat dim sum at from time to time. But our last meal there—back in 2017—was a big disappointment and, given that it’s a 50 minute each way drive for us, we swore off returning. But we needed to be in St. Louis Park at midday on Sunday and as I cast around for a place to eat an early lunch at Yangtze was right there. And so we decided to give it another go. And we kind of liked it. Herewith the details.

I’d called the restaurant the day before to see if there was a chance they now took reservations for dim sum, as the start time of our midday appointment was non-negotiable. They still don’t but the person I spoke with said that if we were all present when they open their doors at 9.45 (they officially open for dim sum at 10 am on the weekends; it’s served till 2 pm) we would almost certainly get a table. As I’m paranoid, we arrived in their parking lot at 9.30. I’d worried that there would already be a lot of people waiting outside (after all Mandarin Kitchen’s dim sum is a lot worse and people queue up there before they open) but there were only two or three others cars parked in front with people inside. And when they opened their doors, we were the first in. Starting at about 10, people began to file in, slowly at first and then much faster; by 10.30 all the tables were taken and there were people waiting both in the foyer and outside.

The restaurant is pretty much the same on the inside as it was on our last visit in 2017. But there’s a major change in the dim sum service. They no longer do cart service. Instead you mark your order on a paper menu and it’s brought to you from the kitchen (the items on the left are steamed; the fried and baked and special items are on the right). Apparently, this is a consequence of pandemic staffing shortages. We were actually happy to see that this was the case—not the staffing shortage but the doing away with of the cart service. This because the quality of dim sum is always better when it comes fresh from the kitchen when you order. There’s a charm to the chaos of the carts but odds are always good that you will get things that have been going around the dining room for 15-20 minutes and will have either dried out or over-steamed in the process.

We placed a small order not too long after we sat down. The 4-top table we were at was small and we didn’t want to overload it. In that first round were the following: seaweed salad; pork and “monster egg” congee; pork shiumai (listed as pork dumpling on the menu); hargow; shrimp shiumai; and shrimp and chive dumplings. The seaweed itself was good but the pickled vegetables lying under it were far too sweet. We had no complaints about the congee, however (I’m not sure why they call century egg, “monster egg”—it may be a Chinese practice, of course). Of the dumplings we didn’t like the look of the pork shiumai, which had a greyish aspect—but they were in fact quite tasty. The other dumplings were tasty as well, even if the dumpling wrappers were not as good as they could be—the shrimp and chive dumplings in particular had some ruptures in them.

Encouraged, on the whole, we then placed a larger second order. This included one more order each of the pork and shrimp shiumai. Alas, while the shrimp shiumai was fine again, this lot of pork shiumai were quite a bit sloppier than the first (see the pictorial evidence below). Also on the table now were the following: steamed spare ribs (acceptable); fried turnip cake (far thicker than I’m used to but the taste and texture were good); chicken feet (just a bit too gloppy, texture-wise); stuffed eggplant (quite tasty; the eggplant is stuffed with shrimp paste); and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf (quite good). Being greedy, we then added on two more things: fried shrimp with garlic (these are fried dumplings and are quite garlicky and tasty); and what they call “pork dumpling/football” (these are fried dumplings made with glutinous rice and were quite tasty if not exactly overstuffed with the filling).

For a look at some very crappy pictures of what we ate, click on an image below to launch a larger slideshow. I apologize for the poor image quality. I did not have my proper camera with me, and if there is a secret to taking good iPhone photographs in non-optimal indoor lighting situations, I am not privy to it. Scroll down to see how much all of this cost and for some broader comments.

The payment method is still the same as it was. When your orders are set down on your table, the servers mark an order slip. At the end of your meal you take the order slip up to the cashier and they tell you your total (which includes 18% gratuity). The dim sum menu does not actually have prices on it—just the names of the dishes. And so I was not prepared for the total, which was $118 or just about $30/head and that’s counting both our boys as individual diners. That’s quite a bit more than our meal in 2017, which worked out to $19/head. Though we liked this meal quite a bit more than the 2017 edition, $30/head is a lot to pay for dim sum of this quality.

For the truth of the matter is, while it was an improvement over our last meal there, it was still B-/B grade dim sum in the abstract. To pay more for it than you would for far better dim sum in any number of places in Los Angeles County stings a little bit and took some of the shine off our experience. Before we found out how much the meal cost we’d actually said that perhaps we’d even come back once more this year. At $30/head and a near-two hour round trip, I’m not so sure. If you live closer to them though and don’t travel as frequently as we do to places with better dim sum scenes than ours, I would again recommend them over Mandarin Kitchen (even if you live closer to Bloomington).

By the way, while waiting to pay, I looked at their regular, non-dim sum menu for the first time. Have any of you eaten non-dim sum meals there recently or not-so recently? What was your take on it?

Alright, coming up later this week on the restaurant report front: my last Delhi report and one report each from Goa and Seoul. On the whisky front there’ll be two more reviews of sherried Laphroaigs.


One thought on “Dim Sum at Yangtze, 2023 (St. Louis Park, MN)

  1. Good opportunity for me to point out Pagoda Restaurant, now in Roseville. They have dim sum every day, and an option for AYCE on weekends. We’ve been maybe eight times in the last year and a half, but only for weekday lunch when there are no crowds. It’s consistently good dim sum, and cheerful service. The menu has 25% fewer items than Yangtze’s I’d reckon. It is definitely not cheap though. Items range from $5.95 -$9.95 if memory serves. But your order comes out hot and fresh, hotel-style. Comfortable, but spartan dining area (to me Yangtze is more inviting). You or your readers may be interested in checking it out.


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