Timing is everything when it comes to dim sum. First of all, if you are going for dim sum at the Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington, (served Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., it’s important to arrive early, for quick seating and the best selection. We arrived around 11, and were seated right away, but by the time we left, there was a crowd waiting in line for tables.
The selection is terrific, the quality is high, and the procession of carts and trays was non-stop, but here too, timing matters. If you snap up the first few plates that pass by, you won’t have room for the delicacies that show up later. My favorites on this visit included the succulent soy sauce duck, the pan-fried tofu skin stuffed with shrimp, the fried crab claws, and the pork and preserved egg congee, but by the time I spotted the sticky rice in lotus leaf and the pan-fried chive dumplings, I didn’t have any room for them. Prices range from $2.95 to $4.15 for the standard plates, and $5.95 for the house specials. There’s an impressive assortment of live seafood in tanks near the door, including lobsters, crab and groupers.
Speaking of Chinese cuisine, Chinese New Years starts January 26, and several local restaurants are celebrating with special menus. The most elaborate offering is at Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine at 26th and Nicollet, (whose owners are ethnic Chinese) , which is serving up a 12-course banquet menu for 10 for $288, including courses of lobster, raw fish salad, crabmeat soup, garlic shrimp and lots more. The menu is available from Friday, January 23 through Monday, February 9.
At Rainbow Chinese, Tammy Wong has created a creative a la carte menu of less traditional dishes, ranging from a lemongrass bison salad ($13), and Chilean sea bass with tamarind sauce ($30) to a savory egg custard with Portobello mushrooms and caramelized onions ($13), and a Paul Bunyan cocktail of bacon-infused bourbon with maple syrup and bitters.
Meanwhile, 20.21 at the Walker Art Center is giving its $20.21 bar menu a Chinese New Years twist: From now till Saturday, January 24, the prix-fixe menu includes Chinese chicken salad, shrimp and scallop eggrolls with Chinese pickles, pork potstickers and a Chinese cookie platter. And guests who mention they’re at 20.21 to celebrate the Chinese New Year will get a 10% discount on food and a 20% discount on Sunday Brunch on January 18 and 25.