Szechuan Spice takes over the Zen space in LynLake
Move over, Zen, Szechuan Spice has taken over your old digs in LynLake. Open since August 9, it focuses on Szechuan flavors with the greatest hits of Chinese-American cuisine thrown in for good measure. Owner-chef ChangFu Xue has worked in China and New York and is a partner in the St. Paul Tea House restaurant. His wife, Jenni Shi, runs the front of the house and says that back in the day Xue even cooked for Chinese government officials who missed the tastes of their native Sichuan Province.
So what are they cooking up over there?
The classics of Szechuan cooking are all represented on the menu, including dan dan noodles, kung pao chicken, Ma Po tofu and tea-smoked duck. Shi and Xue also make dishes from other regions, like their grilled Peking duck, house-made Shanghai-style mini buns, and Hunan whole fish. They have applied for a beer and wine license, but for now diners will have to pair nonalcoholic beverages with their meals.
They first inquired about the space back in March, and then embarked on a research tour of Chinese restaurants in New York and the Twin Cities. They brought chefs back with them from the Big Apple and then created their menu, which is eight pages long but not overwhelming. The prices range from $7.95 for an entree of noodles to $38.95 for a whole Peking duck. The best deals are the 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. lunch specials, which top out at $8.50 and generally come with rice, soup, and an egg roll. Szechuan Spice has relied solely on LynLake foot traffic and word of mouth for publicity so far. The restaurant is seeing more diners each week, especially on the weekends. The modern dining room is low lit and free parking is available nearby at the H Salon lot. The owners hope that Szechuan Spice's focus on Chinese food is the recipe for success that Zen lacked.
Szechuan Spice 3016 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis 612.353.4281 Sunday - Thursday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Friday - Saturday 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
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