1320 4th Street South
East Minneapolis, MN
How Did I Find This Place?
We stumbled upon it, literally. While my family was in town we decided on a whim to go to Cafe 421 in Dinkytown for a little bit of everything on Friday night. On our way back to the car we took the long way so that we were able to peek into the shops and stumbled upon an a kind of "diamond in the rough" looking Asian restaurant. Good sign. Then we saw that it was packed with Asian families. Another good sign. So with those acute Asian restaurant stake out skills, our plans were already as good as booked for Saturday night!
From what I was able to find online, it appears that it's a Twin Cities favorite that was unbeknownst to me! Their affordable prices, large dining area and seasonal seafood blackboard menu keep students, families and well known chefs (on their night off) coming back to Shuang Cheng year after year. One reviewer even boasted that he has been coming here for 20 years...and plans to keep doing so for 20 more years!
Secondly, their menu is like phone book! Their specialty appears to be focused on Cantonese dishes but the variety of dishes that they have on their 12 page menu is something to be in awe of. Especially considering that everything that we had was good since our order was all over the board.
Lastly, the experience. While I have never been to Chinatown in NY or Chicago...I imagine that this is what it's like and my family just kept raving about how much it reminded them of the places that they ate in Chinatown in NY (SIDE RANT: I saw not there sadly since they went on all of their cool trips after I moved out of the house...everyone feel sorry, play violins and shed tears for me here).
When we walked in it was packed in the front of the house with an array of families and people of all shapes, colors and sizes. Then since we had a table of five and couldn't fit us in a booth or four-top they opted to move us to the back dining room pictured here, which was really nice! We were all pretty shocked when we moved past the front dining room, past the kitchen entry, lobster tanks and then into this brand spanking new room!
Then, while we sat there and the evening progressed, multiple Asian families started to occupy the back dining room a dozen at a time. And maybe it's just me and because I grew up in big family, but, I LOVE seeing multi-generation families out to dinner talking with each other, fighting with each other and passing around babies! It just made the experience that much more "real" for me.
But before I go into what we had for dinner I need to explain my family's relationship with Asian food or I feel like it won't make sense as to why we wanted to try so many things or why Asian foods hold such a special place in my heart!
Why Does My Family Have a Strange Obsession with Asian Food?
Well, rewind a few decades when my mom was a rolling stone that worked as a server at a Chinese Restaurant in the 70's and from what I recall she somehow got a promotion into being a cook at that same place as well. And the owners really liked and trusted my mom. So much so that they asked her to drive over the Canadian border from Vermont to pick up their relatives. Where would they sit in her little car? Well, the trunk clearly...since they couldn't sit in the front seats. WHAT is that all about you ask? They wanted her to put their relatives that had flown over from China to Canada in her car trunk to illegally cross US border lines since they thought that border patrol would never pull over a young white girl!
But I'm proud to report that my mom, even though she was pretty fresh out of high school, still thought that it probably wasn't a good idea, said "no", did not serve any jail time for aiding illegal aliens, moved to Colorado, met my dad and then me and my siblings grew up with a relationship with Asian food unlike a lot of kids in our small "meat and potatoes" town. Especially considering we didn't even have an Asian restaurant with 30 miles until China Buffet rolled into A-Town in the early 2000's!
But we were lucky...we had a mom that could could STELLAR Chinese food. I still recall my "birthday dinner" almost every year growing up as the obvious choice and one that other siblings exercised over the years as well...snow peas and chicken stir fry. I can literally taste it right now. So freakin' tasty.
|Luckily, this did not end up being a situation my mom was in!|
Now that you know why we love Asian food, here's what we tried out:
|Seafood Soup - literally enough to share for table of 8-10 people|
|Steamed Sole with Ginger and Scallions, and my little broski!|
|General Tso's Chicken|
|"Side" of Green Beans|
|Razor Clams - Listed on Seasonal Seafood Board|
Would You Go Again?
You bet! I actually already have my next meal figured out. The next time that I go, I'm going to start with steamed pork dumplings, order a seasonal seafood dish listed on their blackboard and order a side of veggies to split with my date.
As for what we had that evening, the razor clams were the clear favorite in our group (so good!) and the general tso's chicken took a close second. The only thing that I think that we wouldn't have ordered again were the pork wontons. Otherwise, everything else was good old Cantonese cooking that they brought out as it was ready (since we were a large group).