Chinese food has been on a steady path of improvement in the Twin Cities, largely due to the proliferation of local Szechuan places. But don’t write off the new Little Szechuan at the Shops at West End as just another neighborhood spice joint. It is actually something totally new in the Twin Cities: a Chinese restaurant for Chinese high-rollers.
You feel the glamour as soon as you walk in the door. The décor is notably posh—casino posh, even—with layers of screens, murals, and stone-bead curtains creating the general impression of a super-luxurious temple. In that temple you can order rarities like lobster tail with macadamia nuts, chili-seared French-trimmed lamb chops, and a whole fish, its flesh carefully cut so that, when fried and coated with pine nuts, it looks like a whole fish made of pine-nut scales. Fancy! And tasty.
Order from the more-affordable sections of the menu and you’ll find the same quality that Little Szechuan became known for with its first restaurant in St. Paul. Be sure to try the ground chicken with pickled bean sprouts—it’s tangy, spicy, and invigorating. Compared to the St. Paul location, this new one tends to dish up food that’s less aggressively spicy, but it’s so pleasant to dine in this sophisticated space that it’s a welcome trade-off. I’d say if you’re a connoisseur of Chinese food, it’s worth the drive from anywhere in the metro to try these unusual, extravagant dishes. And if you’re a business person needing to formally entertain Chinese clients, this should be your top choice among local restaurants, bar none.
Little Szechuan at the Shops at West End, 5377 W. 16th St., St. Louis Park, 952-322-7671, littleszechuan.com