My husband and I just revisited HKN for our second anniversary. It was always one of the best Chinese places around in my book, but I think it's gotten even better since we were last there a few years ago (we've become so St. Paul-centered, satisfied with Vietnamese and Cambodian). I have to share that I have never been to Mandarin kitchen (it's not at all near our part of town) but I did live in China for several months and have found that HKN satisfies many (but sadly not all) of my cravings for authentic Chinese.
The place was packed (almost exclusively with Mandarin-speaking folks) when we arrived. Since it was our anniversary we decided to kind of go overboard and ordered four dishes to split between the two of us.
The salt and pepper squid was exquisitely salty and crisp, and the perfect texture.
The watercress with soy sauce was a teeny bit less salty than we'd like, but made up for it with bright gingery sparks amid the soy and sesame sauce. We both highly recommend it.
The singapore style rice noodles were also excellent, the nicest blend of tasty barbecued pork and shrimp and just-tender noodles with just-right seasoning.
We ordered tofu with black bean sauce (which is not on the menu) because my husband has a thing for black bean sauce - that was a little disappointing. Not bad, just not up to par with the rest of the dishes on the table. Kind of soggy and more mellow than we wished.
I just wanted to share this experience in case anyone out there wondered about HKN. Just try it! Other menu items we used to love (but haven't had for a few years, so treat these recommendations with due caution): Hainan chicken (chicken with salty ginger and scallion heaped on top), ginger scallion lo mein (noodles simply adorned), and my personal favorite (which my husband will never agree to because the beef it attached to the bone) beef ribs in XO sauce. Oh yeah. Anyone else have experiences about HKN to share? I'd be interested to know whether they're consistently this good these days.