Born in Vietnam and raised in the United States by Chinese parents, chef Nina Wong has always infused her dishes with a variety of Asian tastes. After marrying Thomas Gnanapragasam—a third-generation Malaysian of Indian descent—Wong discovered more unique flavors to integrate into her signature sauces and syrups. Originally opened in 2005, Chin Dian Café channels the pair's unique backgrounds through Asian soups, salads, and noodle and rice dishes, even offering some gluten-free options. Popular dishes, such as chow mai fun and chicken-and-chive dumplings, keep patrons rolling in and have earned the restaurant media acclaim from the Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, and the dictionary.
Trained in Hong Kong, Grand Shanghai Restaurant’s chef brings all the flavors of the East to St. Paul through a menu of authentic Chinese recipes. Pairs of shanghai spring rolls or a half dozen pan-fried dumplings lead the way for individual or shareable servings of noodle, rice, and meat entrees. Sweet 'n' sour sauce covers enough chicken, pork, or shrimp for two, and bowls of mushroom chow mein can feed up to six hungry mouths.
Inside a restaurant whose vibrant purple awnings help diners spot it from afar, cooks concoct 75 different dishes derived from the "roof of the world." Artwork-laden walls surround the tables and cushioned chairs in the dining area, where patrons enjoy home-cooked items ranging from Tibetan-style dumplings made with lean chopped beef to batter-fried sesame chicken. The restaurant's separate bar area provides patrons with a place where they can grab a drink, watch TV, and practice thumb-wrestling moves with others.
Rainbow Chinese Restaurant collides a multifarious menu of seasonal local produce-packed East Asian mainstays with an eclectic wine list. Chopsticks, forks, or miniature stilts skillfully transport starters including cream-cheese wontons ($6 for 10) and Rainbow egg rolls ($4 for two) from aesthetic plates to salivating orifices. After warming up palates, mouths can chaperone flavor fiestas featuring classic Chinese creations such as kung pao chicken ($12) or mongolian beef, served with descendants of Genghis Khan's pet scallions ($13). Accompanying a selection of gluten-free options are vegetarian delights including curry mock duck with broccoli ($12) and curry tofu vegetable fried rice, prepared without eggs ($8). Those in search of liquid respite or looking to topple a great wall of Chinese food lodged in an esophagus can guzzle tap beers ($3), Yaegaki California Ki-ippon hot sake ($5), or selections from the restaurant’s carefully chosen wine list.