BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT (1999)

For the past several years, Rainbow has been the rising tide that lifts all (Chinese-food) boats, setting standards in service, food, atmosphere, and amenities. Other local Chinese restaurants have dishes to rival Rainbow's--seafood at Dinkytown's Shuang Cheng, noodles at Edina's Big Bowl, stir-fries at August Moon, specials at either Little Canada's My Le Hoa or Maplewood's Singapore Chinese. But none of them has Rainbow's full package, a combination of neighborliness, elegant atmosphere, full bar, stellar food, and candied walnuts on top of your green-tea ice cream.