Getting a good appetizer is half the battle of any meal, but if you can get a great appetizer—a craveable, inhalable, delectable appetizer—you can almost quit right there and still leave the table satisfied. The House Beef Roll ($9), available at the Minneapolis location of Tea House Chinese, is a hunger slayer of rough-hewn beauty, the kind of starter that’s worth doubling up on once you’ve tasted it.
Thin shreds of tangy beef are mixed with scallions and wrapped in a beautifully flaky scallion pancake, making for a dish that presents many burrito-like characteristics without making any real flavor reference to that much better-known dish. The bright tanginess of duck sauce, the comforting warmth of beef, and the crispy, chewy pancake make for a textural and flavor journey, and it’s a substantial enough appetizer that it can please multiple diners.
For our dollar, the Tea House on University is one of the best Chinese restaurants in the state, full stop, so if you get the beef roll, don’t stop there. Their Kung Pao Chicken ($16) is bold and our favorite just about anywhere and their Mu Shu Pork ($15) is the definition of comfort on a plate. Prices are high compared to many neighborhood Chinese restaurants, but the quality comes through and the portions are generous—if you’ve never done takeout from this Minneapolis institution, now is a fine time to start.
The Dish: House Beef Roll, $9
The Place: Tea House Chinese Restaurant, 2425 University Avenue SE, Minneapolis
The Reason: This is an appetizer that comes on strong in terms of both flavor and quantity, and ends up being as comforting as a bear hug from an old friend.
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