Yangtze (St. Louis Park, MN)
By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
We think dim sum is one of the best Chinese culinary traditions. It's a meal of bite-sized portions and small plates. When the Spanish do something similar, it's called tapas. Dim sum is eaten in the late morning and early afternoon, and some people claim that dim sum is the origin of brunch. On any weekend lots of families, both Chinese and western, will pile into Yangtze for dim sum.
The presentation of the dim sum meal has no equivalent in the West. Servers push carts through the dining room and past your table. They are loaded with a variety of foods in little dishes and steaming containers. The diners look at the different dishes on offer, and chose what looks interesting. You'll get an English-language explanation from the server as to what's what.
A single order of dim sum will be just three or four bite size pieces, generally. Eat family style. You'll want to try lots of dishes, and with so much on offer, why not try some of everything? And choose things throughout the meal, as the carts come by.
While they serve good Chinese for lunches and dinners, we like the dim sum at Yangtze. Everything is delicious and filling. They offer all the standard selections. There's not much that will startle a Western palate.
In general, there are four different categories of dum sum. The first is steamed dishes like shrimp or pork dumplings and buns filled with chicken, pork, or lotus root. Shu mai are won ton skins wrapped around minced meat, usually pork or shrimp, and everything that makes Chinese food taste good: ginger, cilantro, a bit of pepper, garlic, oyster sauce.
We also liked the sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf.
The second is fried dim sums, such as egg rolls. We liked the fried shrimp balls and the shrimp wrapped in seaweed. It's got a nicely ocean-y flavor. The pan-fried turnip cakes are tasty and are best piping hot.
The third category is what we like to call miscellaneous. Here you'll find the two stranger dim sums at Yangtze: beef tripe and chicken feet. Don't worry, they're easy to avoid. But do order one of the best dishes: Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce. You'll have to ask for this one; it doesn't come around on the carts. It's wonderful, especially if you're craving vegetables.
You can order rice porridge known as congee, too. It's savory and filling, and has bits of meat in it. Think comfort food.
The final category of dim sum are the sweets. No Chinese dessert is all that sweet, compared to American standards. The little egg custard tarts are gently sweetened and are a rich and tasty finish to the meal. The pastry crust is exceptionally flaky. We liked the coconut buns, topped with a thick egg wash. The mango pudding tastes mostly of coconut.
Yangtze serves good basic dim sum. Gather up a group of family and friends celebrate the weekend with these excellent small dishes.
Atmosphere: family-friendly Chinese restaurant
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