May 062012

Cuisine: Asian Variety, Chinese, Thai
Restaurant Features: Bar, Gluten-Free Menu
Locations: Edina, Minnetonka and Roseville
Addresses and Maps:
Roseville (Rosedale Center) – 1705 Highway 36 West  Roseville, MN 55113 (651) 636-7173
Edina – 3669 Galleria Edina, MN 55435 (952) 928-7888
Minnetonka (Ridgedale Center)-  12649 Wayzata Blvd Minnetonka, MN 55305 (952) 797-9888
Hours:Mon-Thurs 11am-9:30pm * Fri-Sat 11am-10pm * Sun 11:30am-9pm
Links: Big Bowl Website * Big Bowl Facebook PageGoogle Map

Atmosphere: There are several Big Bowl locations in the areas of Minneapolis and Chicago.  The Roseville location is found inside Rosedale Center on the same side of the mall as AMC Theaters, Granite City and Flame. The dining room is big and decorated with a contemporary Asian flair.  There are tables in various shapes and sizes, as well as booths along the outer walls.  There is also a bar area to the left of the entrance.

Menu: Appetizers include Chicken Potstickers, Veggie Potstickers, Chicken Dumplings, Veggie Dumplings, Spicy Sichuan Green Beans, Crispy Garlic Tofu, Grilled Chicken Satay, Chicken and Shrimp Eggroll,  Barbeque Spareribs, Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps, Thai Herb Calamari, Spicy Sichuan Eggplant, and Summer Rolls (Chicken, shrimp or Veggie).

Soups and Salads include Dumpling Noodle Soup, Vietnamese Noodle Soup (Pho), Chinese Hot & Sour Soup, Tom Yum Shrimp Soup, Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles, House Mixed Salad Greens, Asian Chicken Salad, Mandarin Chicken Salad, and Lucky 8 Vegetables & Tofu.

Chinese Chicken dishes include Kung Pao, Ginger Chicken, Spicy Cashew, Orange, and Sesame Chicken.  Beef Dishes include Kung Pao, Spicy Sichuan Beef, Beef & Broccoli, Mongolian Beef, and Seven Flavor Crispy Beef.  Seafood Dishes include Sweet Ginger Sea Scallops & Shrimp, Shanghai Shrimp & Scallops, Teriyaki Glazed Salmon, and Black Pepper Scallops.

Fried Rice options include Teriyaki Chicken, Teriyaki Shrimp, and Barbeque Pork.  There is also an Unfried Jasmine Rice dish.  Chinese Noodle Dishes include Kung Pao Tofu and Spinach, Kung Pao Chicken and Noodles, Steak & Noodles, and Sichuan Pork Belly with Noodles.

Thai Specialties include Red Hot Pepper Chicken Noodles, Thai Hot Pepper Chicken (or Shrimp) with Basil & Peanuts, Bangkok Shrimp & Scallops and Thai Shrimp Fried Rice.  Pad Thai is Big Bowl’s signature dish, try it with Vegetables/Tofu, Chicken, Shrimp or Salmon.  Big Bowl also has a make-it-yourself Stir-Fry bar option.  You choose your vegetables, meat, sauce, and noodles and they will cook it for you.

There are also a number of Curries including  Spicy Thai Green Vegetable Curry, Yellow Curry Vegetables, Yellow Curry Chicken with Sweet Green Beans, and Claypot Shrimp Panang, and Claypot Panang Curry Chicken.

Big Bowl also offers a Gluten-Free Menu, which includes many of the above items.

Desserts include Coconut Tapioca Pudding, Mango Cheesecake, Honey Apple Crisp, Homemade Double Chocolate Brownie, Lucky Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, and Mochi of the Moment (ice cream and sweet rice).
Price guide: Appetizers $5-7 Entrees $12-18

What we ordered: We started with a round of drinks, I had a Mai Tai, with a traditional mix of light and dark rum, pineapple and lime juices.  Delicious, albeit on the short side.

Later I tried a Margarita, a mix of Sauza white tequila, cointreau, and Yuzu sour.

One of my companions ordered the Ginger Jameson, made with fresh Ginger.

One of us had the Red Sangria

Another companion had the Passion Fruit White Sangria.

For the inconvenience of seating out party of twelve at two different tables, they sent out some complimentary appetizers, including these Steamed Veggie Dumplings ($5.95) served in the house soy-ginger sauce.  The order came with five plump dumplings.

We also tried the Pork Potstickers ($5.95), which also came with five in the order.  These were pan fried to give them a crispy, golden brown crust.  They were served with the soy-ginger sauce, hot mustard and sweet plum sauce for dipping.

For my entree I asked for a recommendation of something spicy and the server suggested the Claypot Chicken Panang Curry ($12.95), so that is what I ended up ordering.  The base of this dish was the delicious, thick peanut-coconut curry, stuffed with pieces of all natural white meat chicken, red bell pepper and snow pea pods.  It had a lot of flavor but only a slight kick to it as far as spice goes.

One of my companions ordered the Pad Thai with Pork ($12.95).  This was a big pile of rice noodles, stir fried with big pieces of barbeque pork, basil, eggs, bean sprouts, peanuts and fresh lemon and herbs.  It looked and smelled great!

One of my companions had the Mongolian Beef ($14.95), a traditional Chinese dish with big tender chunks of beef, shitake and button mushrooms, shredded carrot and green onions in a sauce made with hoisin and soy.

Another companion had the Veggie Stir Fry with tofu, broccoli, green beans, carrots, peppers and onions with Chinese rice noodles.

For dessert we shared a Double Chocolate Lava Brownie

Service: Our visit to Big Bowl was on a busy Saturday night, with a reservation for 12 people made a month in advance.  We had to wait 30 minutes past the reservation time before they could arrange space for us.  When we were seated, they put four of us in a booth and the other eight were seated at two nearby tables that had been put together.  It was very awkward and completely separated our party into two.  For this “inconvenience” they brought us complimentary appetizers.  While we were sitting, the hostess had sat a table fo two at the booth next to ours and three minutes later another employee came rushing over to their table where we overheard her telling that could sitting there that they had to be moved, that that particular table was reserved for someone else and they didn’t seem very apologetic about it. My companions and I were appalled by it. As for the rest of our service, drinks took some time coming from the bar but once we put in our dinner orders, they didn’t seem to take any longer for our party of twelve than it would’ve for a much smaller group.
Overall Impression: This was my second time ever visiting Big Bowl, the first was about five years ago.  Big Bowl is a chain restaurant that prides themselves on using fresh ingredients sourced locally and naturally raised meats.  I liked the fresh ingredients and overall our food was pretty good but the service was less than stellar.  I personally won’t be rushing back anytime soon.
Big Bowl on Urbanspoon

Mar 222012

Cuisine: American, Chinese, Dessert
Restaurant Features: On-Site Parking, Counter Service for Take-Out
Location: Roseville, MN
Address: 1163 Larpenteur Ave W St Paul, MN 55113 (651) 488-6687
Hours: Daily 11am-9pm
Links: House of Wong Website * House of Wong on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: House of Wong is a large restaurant located within a large strip-mall in Roseville.  The restaurant is long and narrow shaped, with several high-backed booths that run all the way to the back of the restaurant. The taller booths give you a sense of privacy and the way they are placed might make you forget the restaurant is as big as it is. The decor of the House of Wong is more casual and homey than sophisticated Asian, but the hand-carved wooden doors and  handful of Asian vases serve to remind you this is indeed, a Chinese Restaurant.

Menu: Appetizers include Egg Rolls, Cantonese Chicken Wings, Fried Potstickers, Szechuan Wings, Chinese Barbeque Pork, Crispy Chicken Fingers, Jumbo Golf Shrimp, Meat Wontons, Cream Cheese Wontons, Shrimp Toast, Fried Chicken Livers, and Onion Rings.

The House of Wong has several variations of Chow Mein including Meat, Diced Chicken, Sliced Mushroom, Subgum, Chicken Mushroom, Chicken Subgum, Shrimp, and Barbeque Pork.  Lomein entrees are made with either Chicken, Barbeque Pork, Beef, Shrimp, or the House of Wong Special Lomein.

Fried Rice specials include Chicken, BBQ Pork, Beef, Fresh Shrimp, Special Fried Rice, and Meatless.

Chinese Chicken dishes include Sweet & Sour, Sesame, Orange, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chicken and Broccoli, Chicken Almond Ding, Kung Pao,  Szechuan, Chicken in Garlic Sauce, General Tsao’s, and Curry Chicken.

Beef Dishes include Beef & Broccoli, Beef & Snow Peapods, Beef Pepper Steak, Mongolian, Kung Pao, Szechuan, and Mandarin Beef.  Pork entrees include Sweet & Sour and Sesame.

Vegetarian and Seafood plates include Gulf Shrimp & peapods or Broccoli, Szechuan Shrimp, Kung Pao Shrimp, Triple Kung Pao, Hunan Triple Crown, Szechuan Vegetarian Tofu Stir Fry.

You can also get a  Noodle or Rice Bowls topped with either Mandarin beef, Teriyaki Chicken, Szechuan Garlic Chicken, Pepper Steak, Chicken Almond Ding, Kung Pao Chicken, Beef and Broccoli, and Szechuan Vegetarian Tofu.

There are a number of combination plates as well.

Besides the large amount of Chinese dishes, House of Wong also has several American Items on their menu with Entrees such as Hamburgers, Fresh Roasted Turkey, Grilled or Breaded Pork Chops, Leg of Pork, Pork tenderloin, Frilled Round Steak, Cod Filet, Baby Beef Liver, Sauteed Chicken Breast, Breaded Pork Cutlet, Jumbo Golf Shrimp,  Hawaiian Ham Steak and Fried Chicken.

Sandwiches include Triple Decker Club, Grilled Cheese, Cold Turkey, Hot Turkey, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Ham and Cheese, Chicken or Tuna Salad, and Fish & Chips Basket.

You can even order Italian entrees like Spaghetti, Meat Lasagna, Mostaccioli, Chicken Parmigiana, and Fettuccine with Chicken and Broccoli.

The homemade pies at House of Wong include Banana Cream, Coconut Cream, Chocolate Silk, Apple, Custard, Pumpkin, and on Sundays there is also Carrot Cake.
Price guide: Appetizers $4-7  Entrees $8-12
What we ordered: We started with the Shrimp Toast, which was fabulous! The bottom was made with a piece of cocktail-sized bread and then large pieces of shrimp were butterflied, seasoned, and then placed on top and then battered and deep-fried.  What a delightful combination of textures! The toast was crispy yet the top was light, fluffy,  crunchy and somewhat greasy.  It was served with hot mustard and a mild duck sauce.  I have only had shrimp toast at a handful of restaurants and I think House of Wong has the best :)

We also tried the Barbeque Pork appetizer.  Unbelievably good!  The pork was so tender you could cut it with a fork and the outside was glazed with a sweet sauce, complimenting the natural flavor of the pork.  This is a must-have every time I visit the House of Wong and is especially good when dipped in the spicy hot mustard and duck sauce. Yum!

We also had the Pork Fried Rice, which had several small pieces of the barbeque pork that I like so much.  The rice was deliciously flavorful with green onions, scrambled egg, mushrooms and bean sprouts and the portion size was very generous.

We also ate the Shrimp and Mushroom Egg Foo Young.  I usually love this dish at House of Wong but on this visit the shrimp seemed kind of fishy and the sauce was very very salty.  It wasn’t the worst but it wasn’t nearly as good as the many other times that we have had it over the years.

The entree that we tried was the Lomein with Beef Tenderloin.  The order came with a huge pile of stir-fried Cantonese egg noodles that were cooked with a sweet hoisin sauce with slices of onion, pea pods, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, slices of carrot and several big pieces of beef tenderloin.

Every entree comes with a free dessert and I chose the Custard Pie, as I do nearly every time I visit House of Wong.  It is thick, rich and creamy; a perfectly set custard with a bubbly browned top.  Love it!

Service: Our visit was at dinner time on a Monday and the restaurant was busier then you would expect so early in the week.  We were greeted by the friendly young host who brought us to a booth after asking our preference.  We waited a few minutes before we were greeted by our server, who took our drink order right away, followed by our order for appetizers.  The appetizers were brought out about ten minutes after we ordered, the entrees came out about 15 minutes later.  Some of the minor requests we had seemed to take longer than necessary but overall it was good.
Overall Impression: I have been eating at this restaurant for 30+ years now and while the service can be hit or miss, the food is consistently good.  It isn’t gourmet Chinese, but it is what I would consider Chinese comfort food since I have been eating at House of Wong since I was a toddler.  Large portions and good quality meats and veggies.

House of Wong on Urbanspoon

Nov 272011

Cuisine: Chinese, Vietnamese
Restaurant Features: Dinner Buffet, Lunch Buffet, On Site Parking
Location: Little Canada, MN
Address: 1 Little Canada Rd E Little Canada, MN 55117 (651) 483-1239
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-9pm Sat 12pm-9pm
Lunch Buffet Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm * Dinner Buffet Fri-Sat 5pm-8:30pm
Links: Caravelle on Facebook * Google Map
Caravelle Chinese Vietnamese Restaurant ~ Little Canada, MN

Atmosphere: The Little Canada location of Caravelle Restaurant is located in an old and faded strip mall on Little Canada Road, about 1/4 mile from Rice Street. The dining room has several vinyl-clothed tables, including a handful that are round and can seat six.  There are a couple of Chinese lanterns suspended from the ceiling but that is the only hint given aware by the decor that this is an Asian restaurnt and not a diner straight out of the 90’s.
Dining Room at Caravelle ~ Little Canada, MN

Menu: Appetizers at Caravelle include Vietnamese Eggrolls, Vegetarian Eggrolls, Chicken Wings, Teriyaki Chicken, Oyster Wings, Szechuan Wings, Sugar Puffs, Cream Cheese Wontons, Fried Meat Wontons, BBQ Pork, Steamed Vegetable Dumpling, Pork Dumplings, Shrimp Spring Roll, Pork Spring Roll, Chicken Spring Roll, Shrimp Toasts, and Butterfly Shrimp.

Soups include Wonton, Egg Flower, Vegetable, Hot & Sour, House Seafood Soup.

Chop Suey, Chow Fun and Fried Rice options include Vegetable, Chicken, Pork, Beef and Shrimp.

Entrees include your choice of chicken, shrimp, beef or pork with Sesame, Curry, Kung Pao, Garlic Sauce, Egg Four Young, Sweet & Sour, Moo Shu, Lomein, Twice Cooked Pork, Ta Chien Chicken, Hunan Beef, Beef Szechuan Style, Vietnamese Hot Chicken, Tong Ting Shrimp.

Caravelle House Specialties include Caravelle Special Delight, Seafood Delight, Diamond Head War Bar (shrimp, scallops, beef, chicken, roast pork, sauteed with diced Chinese veggies), Triple Delight, Happy Family, Mongolian Beef, Ginger Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, Pineapple Chicken, Orange Beef or Chicken, Beef with Potato in Oyster Sauce, Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce, Salted Pepper Jumbo Shrimp, Beef Green Bean, Vietnamese Hot Spicy Beef, Chicken Broccoli, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chicken Almond Ding, Chicken Cashew, Lemon Chicken, Beef Pepper Steak with Tomato, Beef with Broccoli, Eight Immortal Beef, Shrimp in Lobster Sauce, Shrimp Chinese Vegetable, Shrimp Almond Ding, and Chicken with Vegetables.

Vietnamese specialties at Caravelle include Vermicelli Bowl (choice of beef, chicken, or shrimp), Saigon Noodle Soup, and Pho (beef, beef meatballs, chicken and vegetarian).
Price guide: Appetizers $4-6 Entrees $8-12

What we ordered: We started with an order of Oyster Wings. This was an order of eight giant, crispy wings covered with a sweet vinegary sauce that was unlike any oyster sauce I have had before. I liked these but I wouldn’t call them oyster wings.
Oyster Wings at Caravelle ~ Little Canada, MN

We also tried the Shrimp Toast, which are little cocktail-sized toasts with a shrimp on top, then breaded and deep-fried. These were very crispy and heavily battered but didn’t seem greasy at all, which was an unexpected but pleasant surprise.
Shrimp Toast at Caravelle ~ Little Canada, MN

For our entrees we tried the Crunchy Sesame Shrimp, which I thought was great. The shrimp were quite large and butterflied before being battered and deep fried and there was a pretty big serving of them overall. The sauce was a tangy and slightly sweet sesame sauce
Crunch Sesame Shrimp at Caravelle ~ Little Canada, MN

The Lemon Chicken also came as a large order of crispy, heavily battered chicken pieces, bathed in a very lemony sauce. This was good but I found the sauce to be kind of boring, like it was missing a crucial ingredient.  This was good only until the lemon sauce turned the breading soggy.
Lemon Chicken at Caravelle ~ Little Canada, MN

We also ordered the Pork Fried Rice, a heaping serving of rice with peas, carrots, scrambled egg, bean sprouts, and candied Chinese barbecue pork. Very flavorful and yummy.
Pork Fried Rice at Caravelle ~ Little Canada, MN

Service: We were greeted with a smile and the server was very nice. We took our time looking over the menu and ordered our appetizers and later ordered our entrees.  The dishes were brought out to us in the order they were prepared, which was nice so that we could try everything when it was hot and fresh.
Overall Impression: I had known of the Caravelle that used to be located on University Avenue(now closed) but I wasn’t aware of the one in Little Canada until a friend told me about the lunch buffet.  I am glad I stopped in and tried this place, especially glad I ordered from the menu, as the food was hot and fresh.
Caravelle Restaurant III - Little Canada on Urbanspoon
Caravelle Restaurant Reviews in Little Canada

Nov 072011

Cuisine: Thai, Chinese, Asian Variety,
Restaurant Features:Lunch Buffet, On-Site Parking

Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 4440 Highway 61 North  White Bear Lake, MN 55110  651-653-9781

Hours: Dine-In /Take out  Mon-Sat 11am-8pm Lunch Buffet M-F 11-2pm

Links: Sam Thai Cuisine Website  * Sam Thai on Facebook *   Google Map
Atmosphere: Located within a strip mall, Wild Ginger has just 10-12 tables available in the dining room (seats 24).  It is decorated with a variety of Thai art and sculptures.
Menu: Appetizers include Butterfly Shrimp, Thai Style Beef Jerky, Chicken Wings, Thai Spicy Wings, Cream Cheese Wontons, Steamed or Fried Dumplings, Egg Rolls, Fresh Spring Rolls, Fried Tofu, Thai Style Fried Wontons, Pork Toast, Chicken Satay, Tawd Mun (fish cakes), and Ka Nom Bueang (shrimp and coconut wrapped in an omelet).

Soups offered Egg Drop, Chicken Rice, Hot and Sour, Silver Thread Noodle, Spinach and Thai pork, Won Ton, Tom Kha (with choice of meat),  Tom Yum (choice of meat), Baa Mee Hmo Dang (noodles with BBQ Pork), and Rice Noodle Soup.

Salads offered at Sam Thai Cuisine include Laab, Steak Laab, Som Tum (shredded papaya with peanuts and dried shrimp), Yum Nua, and Yum Woon Sen.

Thai Curry Entrees include Gang Dang (red curry, coconut milk, basil, veggies), Gang Keow Wan (green curry), Gang Pah, and Pa Nang.

Thai Noodle Dishes include Pad Thai, Rad Na, Pad See Yew, and Pad Khee Mao.

Thai Entrees at Sam Thai Cuisine include Rama Long Srong, Pad Him Ma Parn, Pad Hoo Raa Pha, Pad Khing, Pad Priew Wan, Pad Prig, Pad Prig Khing, Pla Rad Prig.  Thai style rices include Thai Fried Rice, Pineapple Fried Rice, and Thai Curried Fried Rice.

Chinese Entrees include Fried Rice, Chow Mein, Subgum Chowmein, Egg Foo Young, Lomein, Chop Suey, Chicken Almond Ding, Chicken Cashew, Chicken Hung Shiu, Lemon Chicken, Chicken with Pea Pods, Sweet & Sour, Kung Pao, Mongolian, Sesame Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and Szechuan Beef, Chicken or Pork.

Price guide: Appetizers $4-8  Thai Entrees $9-15  Chinese Entrees $5-10
What we ordered: We started with an order of Chicken Wings which were excellent; lightly breaded and crispy but juicy inside.

We also tried the Pineapple Fried Rice, which might be one of my new favorite dishes.  The rice was seasoned perfectly and was much more savory than I expected.  The pineapple and raisins added a little bit of sweetness but perfectly complimented the savory.  An extra bonus in both texture and flavor were the cashews that topped the dish.

We also ordered the Pad Woon Sen with Beef, which is another of pur favorite Thai dishes.  The base of this dish is the translucent, skinny fat-free rice noodles that is piled with steamed broccoli, tomato, onion, egg, and thin slices of beef.  This dish is so simple yet packs so much flavor.  It is tossed with spicy red chili and Thai seasonings.

Green Curry (Gang Keow Wan ) A combination of coconut milk, Thai green curry paste, herbs, bamboo shoots, vegetables, and chicken. This is one of my favorite Thai dishes! It has a ton of kick and the vegetables soak up the flavor of the coconut milk just perfectly.

The rice that accompanied our entrees was served in the form of a heart which I thought was a nice touch.

One dish I tried that I have never had before was the Pad Khing.  This dish was very flavorful, with a blend of sliced peppers, onions, to different varieties of mushroom and tangy ginger in a ginger-based sauce.  The Pad Khing comes with choice of meat and I ordered shrimp.  There were 6-8 large shrimp in the order and they were perfectly cooked.  We both liked this dish very much and would definitely order it again.

Service: You can expect to be greeted by Sam, restaurant owner and sole server, who is friendly and personable with his customers.  All dishes are made-to-order but prepared in a reasonable amount of time.
Overall Impression: Sam Thai Cuisine is some of the best Thai food that you will find in the northeast suburbs, it is always a treat to eat there (dine-in or take out!).  Great lunch buffet

This is an original review of Sam Thai Cuisine on Twin Cities Restaurant Blog
Sam Thai Cuisine (formerly Wild Ginger) on Urbanspoon

Jun 212009

Cuisine: Chinese, Mongolian
Restaurant Features: Catering, Lunch Buffet, Dinner Buffet, On-Site Parking. Take-Out
Locations: Woodbury, MN
Address: 8340 City Centre Dr (Woodbury City Centre) Woodbury, MN 55125 (651)730-8668

Hours: Lunch Mon-Sat 11am-3pm     Dinner Mon-Thur 4p-9:30p                 Fri-Sun 4p-10p    Sunday & Holiday Brunch 11:30a-3p
Links: Google Map Atlantic Buffet Website

Atmosphere: The Atlantic Buffet is located within a large strip mall called Woodbury City Centre.  When you first walk inside the reception/lobby area, the Atlantic Buffet in Woodbury has a cute little mini-pond set up with Koi swimming around inside, and live plants arranged around it.  The main dining room is arranged into at least two dining areas on half of the large space, the other half of the restaurant has all the Buffet Islands set up.  The dining areas  contain both tables and booths and have a contemporary feel.

Atlanticbuffet-dining100 Atlanticbuffet-diningbooths1000

Here is a glimpse of the Buffets Islands (I think there were 6-8 of them).


In the way back of the Buffet Islands there is an additional area set up for the Mongolian Stir-Fry.  You can choose your own ingredients and then you have the chef ccok it for you on the Mongolian BBQ.


Menu: The items on the buffet change frequently, but there are over 100 items, including a decent selection of Chinese foods, Sushi, American foods, Seafood, and build-your-own Mongolian Stir-Fry.  There is also a dessert and fruits table, and salad bar.

There is also a full Chinese Take-Out menu available.
Price guide:

  • Lunch Buffet  Kids 3-6 $4.25 Kids 7-11 $5.50 Adults $8.25
  • Dinner Buffet  Kids 3-6 $5.75  Kids 7-11 $7.25  Adults $12.50

What I ordered: There were many food items at Atlantic Buffet and I was determined to try a little of this and a little of that.  Here is my Chinese/Sushi plate.  The cheesy mushrooms were very good, as were the steamed dumplings and cream cheese wontons.  The few bites I tried of the chicken & Broccoli stir-fry were okay, but I did not care for the other meat entree I tried (not sure what it was but the meat was stringy and chewy).  The sushi was decent although there wasn’t a large variety to choose from, mostly California Rolls or Salmon/Avocado Rolls.


I made my own Mongolian stir-fry which was my most favorite dish at the Atlantic Buffet.  I chose the ingredients I wanted at the Mongolian BBQ station (Beef, Broccoli, Pineapple, Onions and Noodles) and figured out my own combination of sauces (there was no guide to help!) which included cooking wine, teriyaki, garlic, chile peppers, and sesame seeds.  I have found that the more sauce you put on, the better it tastes because the noodles and vegetables soak it right up.


I tried just a few items on my Seafood Plate, including tiny mussels (pretty good, not too chewy or rubbery) that were cooked in a fish sauce.  The salmon was okay and I also tried a bite of Halibut.


For the sake of this review I also made a Dessert Plate.  Nothing too exciting here but the rice krispie bar and almond cookies were good.  They also have soft-serve ice cream.


Service: We were greeted upon entering and were shown to a table right away.  Drinks were fast and continuous throughout our visit, as was the clearing of plates.
Overall Impression: Wide variety and selection of foods for the price.  The Mongolian BBQ and Seafood Buffet offered the best choices, but I thought the quality of the the Chinese food was just mediocre.

Apr 162009

Cuisine: Szechuan Chinese
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 1676 Suburban Ave  St Paul, MN 55106  (651) 771-1790
Hours: Sun-Thurs  11am-9:30pm       Fri-Sat 11am-10pm
Links: Tea House WebsiteGoogle Map
Atmosphere: Located within a strip mall on Suburban Ave, Tea House is not just an ordinary Chinese restaurant.  The walls are lined with an intricate paneling of carved wood stained a rich, dark color that is lit from behind so that art within the panels is highlighted creating a beautiful effect.  The Red lanterns that hang from the ceiling and giant arrangements of bamboo stalks complete the Asian Decor.
Menu: Appetizers at Tea House include Egg Rolls, Cream Cheese Wonton, Chicken Wings, BBQ Pork, BBQ Spare Ribs, Vegetarian Dumplings, Fried Crabmeat Ball, Shrimp Shao Mai, Scallion Pancake, Scechuan Wonton, Szechuan Dan-Dan Noodle, Szechuan Cold Noodle, Szechuan Dumplings in Hot sauce, Shanghai Juicy Buns, Crabmeat Juicy Buns, and Chicken Lettuce Cups.

Cold Szechuan Dishes at Tea House are the Sauteed Cucumber, Bamboo Tips in Spicy Sauce, Stewed Sliced Beef & Stomach, Shredded Pork tomach in Spicy Sauce, Steamed Chicken in Special Taste Sauce, Five Spice Beef, Boiled Sliced Pork with Garlic Sauce, Ma La Beef Tendon and Bon Bon Chicken.

Soups served include Hot and Sour, Egg Drop, Wonton, To Fu Vegetable, Shanghai Wonton, Pickled Mustard and Shredded Pork, Mixed Meat & ToFu, Crabmeat Asparagus, Seafood & Tofu, Pickled Vegetable & Fish, and Sea Cucumber Hot and Sour Soup.

Chef Recommended Dishes include Whole Fish Stewed in Bean Sauce, Sauteed Fillets of Flounder, Prawn and Scallops in Garlic Sauce, Triple Kung Pao, Tea Smoked Duck, Stewed Pork with Chestnuts, Stewed Pork with Crispy Rice and Spicy Brown Sauce, Sauteed Pea Shoots, Chicken with Double Chili Pepper, Gui Chow Chicken and Eggplant in Garlic Sauce.

Poulty Dishes include Chicken with Broccoli, Chicken in Garlic Sauce, Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, Chicken with Peapods, Cashew Chicken, Hunan Chicken, Chicken and Mixed Vegetables, Swet & Sour, Mu Shu, Sizzling Chicken, General Tao, Sesame, Orange, Lemon, Chicken with Bamboo Tips, Chicken with Dry Bean Curd, Sliced Chicken with fresh Asparagus, Kung Pao, Chung King Spicy Chicken and Shredded duck with Ginger.

Pork Dishes include Peking Shredded Pork, Mu Shu, Mongolian, Double Cooked Pork, Hunan Pork, Bean Noodle with Ground Pork, Shredded Pork in Garlic Sauce, Pan Fried Sliced Pork, Shredded Pork with either Dry Bean Curd or Bamboo Tips or Chili Pepper, Boiled Pork in Szechuan Sauce, Szechuan Spicy Pork Intestine, Hot Pot Chitterlings with Pickled Vegetables and Tofu.

Beef and Lamb entrees at Tea House include Beef with Broccoli, Kung Pao, Hunan Beef, Pepper Steak, Mu Shu, Mongolian, Beef in Garlic Sauce, Beef with Peapods, Sesame, Orange, Gui Chopw, Shredded Beef with Chili Pepper, Boiled Beef in Szechuan Hot Sauce, Mogolian Lamb, Szechuan Lamb, Black Pepper Beef Tenderloin, and Chung King Beef Tenderloin.

Seafood dishes include Szechuan Kung Pao Baby Shrimp, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, Prawn with Broccoli, Prawn in Garlic Sauce, Prawn with Vegetables, Prawn in Black Bean Sauce, Prawn with Peapods, Orange Flavor Prawns, Five Spice Prawns, Crispy Prawns in Fruit Juice, Chengdu Jumbo Shrimp, Chung King Spicy Shrimp, Kung Pao Shrimp, Black Pepper Scallops, Scallops with Vegetables, Five Spice Scallops, Szechuan Seafood Hot Pot, Sweet & Sour Fish Fillets, Family Fish Fillet, Crispy Rice Crust with Shrimp, Chicken and Beef, Boiled Fish in Szechuan Hot Sauce, Three Musketeers and Beautie, Seafood Delight, Sea Ccumber with Green Onion, Steamed Flounder, Family Sea Cucumber, Stewed Whole Fish, Whole Fish with Pickled Vegetables, Whole Fish with Pine Nuts, Crispy Whole Fish and Tea House Boiled Fish.

Vegetarian specialties include Shredded Potato with Green Pepper, Buddha Vegetable Delight, Tofu with Mixed Vegetable, General Tao Tofu, Kung Pao Tofu, Broccoli in Garlic Sauce, Mu Shu Vegetable, Stir-Fried A Choy with Garlic, Szechuan Green Beans, Tofu with Chinese Vegetables, Szechuan Asparagus, and Stir-Fried Asparagus.

Chow Mein, Lo Mein, Fried Rice, Egg Foo Young, Chao Fun and Pan Fried Noodles are also available with choice of Chicken, Pork, Beef, Shrimp, Combo or Vegetable.

The Tea House also has a large selection of lunch specials served M-F from 11am-2pm.  Lunch entrees come with white rice, egg roll and soup.

Price guide: Appetizers $2-9     Soup $ 2-14     Poulty, Pork & Vegetarian $10-13      Beef $11-18  Seafood $14-18     Rice, Noodles, Lomein $7-10   Lunch Specials $4-8.50

What We ordered: My companions and I started with the Scallion Pancakes.  I had no idea what to expect from the name of these appetizers, but they were a wonderful treat and very different from the pancakes one might eat at breakfast. Made with layers of flaky pastry that was fried until it was lightly browned and crispy, these pancakes had scallions cooked within the savory dough.  It was served with a sweet soy-based sauce for dipping.  Excellent choice!
It was also highly recommended that we try the Sticky Buns.  Another huge hit!  I was expecting bread of some sort from the name of these delicious little treats, but was pleasantly surprised to discover they were similar to steamed dumplings.  Inside each little Bun was a delicious seasoned pork sausage ball and savory juices.  Big, deep spoons were given to each of us to hold the Sticky Buns while we ate them which was a good thing because one bite into the bun and steaming juices started spilling out!The buns were also served with a side of some kind of soy-based sauce.
I had the General Tao’s Chicken lunch special, which came with my entree, eggroll, rice and soup.  I started with the Hot and Sour soup, which had wonderful taste and texture.  It had a nice spicy flavor with plenty of ingredients in the hot broth.  The General Tao’s Chicken was also very good and was a bigger portion than I expected for lunch.  The large pieces of white-meat chicken were fried so that the breading was still crunchy after it was tossed in sauce.  The sauce had a little zing to it yet a hint of sweetness. The chicken was dressed with semi-cooked broccoli and fried rice (which I upgraded from the white rice it came with).  The fried rice was decent, but seemed a little boring to me.
One of my companions had the Wonton Soup, which looked very good.  Basic chicken broth with wontons and scallions.
Another companion had the Hunan Chicken lunch special.  This was another big lunch portion, with pieces of chicken mixed with broccoli, mini corn-cobs, green and red peppers, whole Asian mushrooms and other Asian vegetables, and then tossed in a spicy Hunan sauce. Served with white rice, egg roll and soup.
Service: Lunch on a Friday was extremely busy and my party of three had to wait a few minutes for an open table.  Our waiter was helpful with ordering from the menu and also demonstrated for us how to serve the sticky buns.  Our appetizers and food were staggered so the process took longer than you might expect at lunch, but overall the food was prepared in a reasonable amount of time considering how busy it was.
Overall Impression: I wish I had discovered Tea House sooner! I worked nearby for three years and never knew it existed until my companions suggested it the day of our visit.  The food was excellent and the lunch special prices were extremely good for the amount of food we got.  I will definitely be back!
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Mar 102009

Cuisine: Chinese
Restaurant Features: Lunch Buffet, Dinner Buffet, On-Site Parking

Locations: Maplewood & West St Paul, MN
Addresses & Maps:

Maplewood– 2950 White Bear Ave Maplewood, MN 55109 (651) 704-9801

West St Paul– 1200 South Robert St.  West St. Paul, MN 55118 (651) 554-0558

Hours: Sun-Thur 11am-9pm  Fri-Sat 11am-10pm

Atmosphere: Both the Maplewood and West St Paul locations are located within strip malls.  Each restaurant has a large, open space for the dining areas.  Silk Kimonos adorn the walls and here and there you will see silk plants as well.  Rectangular-shaped wooden tables are placed close together throughout the space, easy to accommodate larger groups.

GreatMoonBuffet-inside1000 There are four large buffet islands, with additional tables for dessert and also a separate stir-fry section at the West St Paul location.  Each buffet island has about 10-12 food items.

GreatMoonBuffet-buffet1000 The West St Paul location also has a custom stir-fry area.  Similar to Khan’s, choose your frozen sliced meats, Vegetables and sauces and the chef will cook it up in front of you on the Mongolian BBQ.


Menu: Appetizers include Egg Rolls, Cream Cheese Wonton, Cheesey Potatoes, Sweet Biscuits, Sesame Cakes, Pork Sausages, Egg Foo Young, Roast Duck, BBQ Ribs, and Steamed Dumplings.

Soups include Hot & Sour and Wonton.  There is also Lo Mein, Fried Rice, White Rice, Rice Noodle and String Beans.

Chicken dishes include Black Pepper Chicken, Roast Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chicken with Broccoli, Chicken Chow Suey, General Tao’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Chicken Wings, Chicken Sticks, and Chicken with Cashew.

Pork dishes include Mopo ToFu, Hunan Pork, Butter Potato, Double Cooked Pork, Hunan Triple Delight, Pork with Mushrooms, and Boneless Ribs.

Beef dishes include Beef with Broccoli, Mongolian Beef, Beef with Mushrooms, Peppered Beef, and Beef Ribs.

Seafood (most items served at dinner only) items include Mussels, Fried Codfish, Salmon, Popcorn Shrimp, Butterfly Shrimp, Salted Shrimp, Coconut Shrimp, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce.

Desserts include Soft-Serve Ice Cream, Cake, Fresh Fruit

Price guide: Lunch Buffet $8-9  Dinner Buffet $11-12
What I Ate: My visit was at lunch time with a group of colleagues, but I still wanted to try a selection of foods.  I had Cream Cheese Wontons, Boneless BBQ Ribs, Steamed Dumpling, General Tao’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Fried Rice, and a Rice Noodle dish with veggies.  The cream cheese wontons were the biggest I have ever had! They were stuffed full of a cream-cheese mixture that was slightly sweet.  The steamed dumplings were very good, with a flavorful pork/onion mixture.  The meats that I tried were okay, but I would not say these use high quality meat.  The Sweet and Sour as well as the General Tao’s Chicken was kind of fatty and gristly and the batter was soggy.

GreatMoonBuffet-myplate1000 I wasn’t quite satisfied with what I actually ate from my first plate, so I opted to wait in line for my own custom stir-fry.  I chose beef, broccoli, pineapple, onions, pepper and mushrooms with noodles and several scoops of all the different cooking sauces.  There is only one cook making stir-fry and he only cooks one dish at a time, so I had to wait at least 10 minutes for my plate.  I was only able to get a few good bites in before it was time to head back to work, but I was very happy with my stir-fry dish.

GreatMoonBuffet-stirfryplate1000Service: At Great Moon you must pay for your meal before you enter the dining room but from that point forward, there are many servers ava
ilable to take drink orders, clear plates, etc.
Overall Impression: Huge buffet with many options, but I would say food is just slightly better than mediocre in taste and quality.  Make-it-yourself Stir-Fry option at West St Paul is a big bonus.
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Mar 062009

Cuisine: Chinese,

Restaurant Features: Lunch Buffet, Dinner Buffet, On-Site Parking
Location: White Bear Lake, MN
Address: 3959 Linden Street  White Bear lake, MN 55110 (651) 426-4565

Hours: M-F 11am-8pm  Lunch Buffet 11am-2pm Dinner Buffet 4-8pm
Links: Google Map * King’s City on Facebook


Atmosphere: King’s City is located on a frontage road that runs along Hwy 61 and has been open since 1982.  The restaurant itself is in a stand-alone building, with one big open space for the dining room.  There isn’t anything fancy about the decor, just several square wooden tables arranged throughout the dining room, making it easy to pull them together for larger parties.

KingsCity-inside1000 The buffet is one of the more popular features of King’s City for the dine-in crowd (available 11am-2pm and 4-8pm)


Menu: Appetizers at King’s City include Egg Rolls, Fried Wontons, Chicken Wings, Paper-Wrapped Chicken, Barbeque Pork, Fried Shrimp, and Cream Cheese Wontons.

Soups include Wonton, Egg Drop, Chicken Rice and Chicken with Chinese Greens.

Egg Foo Young options are the Vegetable, Pork, Chicken or Shrimp.

Chow Mein options include Regular, Meatless, Subgum, Mushroom, Chicken, Chicken Subgum, Chicken Mushroom, and King’s City Special Chow Mein.  Lomein, Chop Suey and Fried Rice options include Vegetable, Pork, Chicken, Shrimp, Beef and Special.

Beef Entrees include Beef with Snow Peapods, Beef Tomato and Green Pepper, Beef and Green Pepper, Beef with Broccoli, Curried Beef, Kung Pao Beef, Mongolian Beef, Beef with Red Sauce and Beef with Cashew.

Chicken Entrees include Sweet and Sour, Chicken with Snow Peapods, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Pineapple Chicken, Chicken Almond Ding, Curried Chicken, Chicken with Broccoli, Twice Cooked Chicken, Chicken with Red Sauce, Kung Pao Chicken, Mongolian Chicken and Chicken with Cashew.

Pork Entrees include Sweet and Sour, Pork with Snow Peapods, Pork with Broccoli, Curried Pork, Twice Cooked Pork, Mongolian Pork, and Pork with Red Sauce.

Shrimp Entrees include Sweet and Sour, Almond Ding, Shrimp with Snow Peapods, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, Shrimp with Broccoli, Curried Shrimp, Kung Pao Shrimp, Twice Cooked, Mongolian, Shrimp with Cashew, and Shrimp with Red Sauce.

There are also a number of Combination Dinners for either one or two people.

Buffet Includes Regular Chow Mein, Fried Wontons, Egg Rolls, Chicken Wings, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Chicken Lomein, and two Entrees (Changes Daily). *An order of 10 Cream Cheese Wontons can be purchased with Buffet for an additional $2.95*


Price guide: ‘Lunch Buffet $8.95 Kids Under 12 $5.25  Dinner Buffet $11.55

Appetizers $4-7  Soups $3-4  Egg Foo Young $5-6 Chow Mein $4-18  Lomein/Chop Suey $7-9  Beef Entrees $8  Chicken/Pork Entrees $7-8  Shrimp Entrees $9

What I ordered: I had the dinner buffet, as I always do when I eat-in at King’s City.  I had Chow Mein, Twice Cooked Pork, Chicken Lomein, Sweet and Sour Chicken, an Eggroll and Fried Wontons.  The chow mein is very basic, celery with a small amount of ground pork (the best chow mein at King’s City is the Chicken Subgum which is not offered on the buffet).  The Chicken Lomein was very good, tons of vegetables mixed in with tender pieces of white-meat chicken, and thin.  The Twice Cooked Pork has a nice zing to it, and also has a nice mix of Asian veggies.  The Sweet and Sour Chicken was also good, with bite-sized pieces of chicken breaded and deep fried to a crispy golden brown.  The batter is slightly thick on the chicken, and sweet and sour sauce is served on the side to maintain crispiness of chicken.  The Fried Wontons are very crispy, filled with a mixture of ground pork and spices (green onion?).


Service: King’s City prides itself on excellent service.  The servers are all very attentive so used plates are taken away immediately and drinks refilled with a quickness.  The owner, Sam, is a very friendly guy and is very personable with his customers (many of whom are long-term).
Overall Impression: Fast and friendly; very good Chinese food.  The buffet is somewhat limited, but the quality of food is above average and reasonably priced.  Can’t go wrong to order off menu.  Awesome customer service.
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