There is so much Chinese food around the Twin Cities these days, it's surprising how seldom you find any that really satisfies. It's comforting, of course, to go almost anywhere and know more or less what you're going to find, and more or less how it's going to taste, but this is the reason that fast food chains survive, and there are all sorts of good reasons not to patronize those. Sometimes we need character, care, and individuality, even in our take-out.
On the recommendation of a soprano friend of mine, Miss J and I visited Shuang Cheng for the first time a number of years ago. It has been a staple of ours ever since. Unfortunately, I am a creature of habit, and once I find a dish I like, it's hard for me to break out of my rut and try something new. So I'm a little embarrassed that I can't really write the review I'd like here, because I can't really vouch for more than a few things on the menu at Shuang Cheng. But it's only because I am deeply in love with those things, and would happily share them with all of you.
On the face of it, this is not a restaurant that would turn your head. With the exception of the new dining room in the back, there's no atmosphere to speak of. None of the decorating has been updated, or even given a second thought, in twenty years or so. But in some cases, this is a good thing. No question of style over substance here. If a place looks like this, and is still busy, you know they're doing good work. And busy they are. Not just with students, either, but actual grown-ups, who are willing to deal with getting to Dinkytown and finding a place to park for the sake of eating here.
The specials board is a wonder. It will take you twenty minutes to read through, and I suspect that they are only limited by the size of the whiteboard. So while you're working your way through, try a couple of things off the appetizer menu. Everything we've tried has been wonderful. The egg rolls are actually not my favorite, but I only mention that so you don't think I've completely lost my head. Really, you can't go wrong.
As an aside, can I ask why we've been able to land on the moon and still can't come up with a teapot that doesn't drip all over you and the table and everything else when you try to pour it? Just curious. Same for coffee carafes. Puzzling.
When it's time to order, one of you can get whatever you like. The other has to have the Orange Beef. I'm serious. Other than Kraft Mac-n-cheese, there are not many things I would happily eat every day. The Orange Beef at Shuang Cheng is one of them. Tender, sweet, spicy, sauced but not smothered... it's just a marvel. In spite of my best efforts, and my earnest intention to branch out every time we go, this is what I end up ordering. And every time, I thank the heavens for my sound judgment, and scratch my head over the momentary instability that led to the possibility of any other choice.
Miss J usually gets some version of Chicken with Pea Pods, and is always pleased. She adds water chestnuts, and really, who can blame her? It's good policy to add them to everything, I think. A little crunch is always a plus. I should add that the good folks at Shuang Cheng are always happy to customize.
The service is efficient and friendly. The prices are more than reasonable. Unless you're me, you'll end up with lunch the next day. And the food...well, the food is just a cut above. You'll be happy you made the effort.
Oh, and if you're in Saint Paul, take the short cut. Go west on Como to 15th, and then go South. You'll get to Dinkytown right where you need to be, and where street parking is still a viable option. No freeway, no University, no stress.
thought of the day...
5 years ago