We begin this month by listing the eight Chinese cuisine traditions, above. The essential factors that establish a tradition include history, cooking features, geography, climate, resources and life styles. Cuisines from different regions are unique. Regional neighbors have genres that are completely dissimilar. If you recall from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the number eight is particularly auspicious or favorable.
Of the eight traditional Chinese culinary traditions, Szechuan cuisine is the most well-known. Szechuan flavors are rich and complex with spicy, sweet, sour, and salty flavors. The China Insight Restaurant Review Committee experienced true Szechuan cuisine this month at the new Little Szechuan Restaurant at the West End in St. Louis Park.
As the committee was seated, they introduced themselves as an analyst for a major corporation, a national sales manager, and MBA candidate who had just arrived from China, a non-profit administrator who is a former chef, and integration manager, and the China Insight staff writer. All committee members LOVE to eat out and they LOVE Chinese cuisine. They were fully up to the experience of giving Little Szechuan West End the old professional try
For appetizers we began with Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Quick Fried Lotus Root, and Szechuan Fries. The Szechuan Potato Fries are French fries with red hot pepper spice. This was by far the favorite starter at our table, including the young MBA who had just arrived from China the day before (first time in the United States). The Quick Fried Lotus Root was crisp and spicy, a new experience for some. The Chicken Lettuce Wraps had ground peanuts in the chicken mixture, which made this dish crunchy and delicious. All portions were generous and the Committee felt that sharing three starters among six diners was the perfect number. Conclusion: the appetizers were adventurous, healthy, and excellent – a far cry from the greasy, heavy appetizers at some locales.
The menu had photos of every item, which made ordering fun. All dishes were listed in English and in Mandarin characters. On the back page were Lo Mein, Fried Rice, and other unremarkable fare for the less adventurous.
Our first entree, Chung King Chili Beef, had the perfect blend of spice for a kick that was not numbing. The accompanying vegetables were crisp and fresh. This was a favorite dish. The Honey Duck was just like Beijing’s Peking Duck, said our committee member who had lived in Beijing. The duck had a crispy outside and flavorful meat inside. It was accompanied by pancakes, green onions, and a tangy sauce. When we ran out of pancakes, the waiter came back with more. We all enjoyed this dish. The Fish-Flavored Eggplant was the favorite of our MBA candidate. “No Chinese restaurant would neglect to have this dish on the menu,” he commented, “and this one is perfect.”
We hope our readers can find their way to this treasure on the West End in St. Louis Park. Update your GPS and look high in the sky for the sign. Bring in your sweetheart for a romantic eventing, or your family for an event. The cuisine at Little Szechuan West End is fully up to the high quality of Little Szechuan on University in St. Paul. Finally, the ambiance of this elegant restaurant takes Little Szechuan to the next level.