I want to introduce myself to the list. I moved to Saint Paul in March but I have just discovered the Chowhound web site. I have read most of the posts concerning Twin Cities and I am happy to see two nice posts about Kathy Jenkins, whom I find to be the most savy of the local critics about ethnic food, my preference. I think some of the posts about Asian cuisine are not snobbish enough, perhaps because I am from one of the capitals of Chinese cuisine in America.
I actually have enjoyed Twin Cities cuisine. I am not so well-versed in its continental offerings, but it is much more diverse than Philadelphia, my last home, and I have actually found a few restaurants that are superior to anything similar in NYC. I do not think I ate real Mexican food until I came to Twin Cities, for example. I think overall the quality of Vietnamese food is superior to that in NYC (though there was a little-known wonderful place in Philadelphia whose equal I have not found). I will mention two restaurants whose cuisine cannot be sampled in NYC: China Crown in Roseville and Krura Thai in Saint Paul. The first specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine, a representative of which I do not think exists in NYC. Krura Thia has the finest Thai food I have ever had, superior to Planeat Thailand in Brooklyn (as I remember it) or Pam Real Thai in Clinton, my two champs in NYC (neither of which I have eaten in for a long while). But the chef at Krura is a "Thaivent" of Asian cuisine (forgive the pun): for a real treat, order special dishes two hours ahead that would otherwise not be available. Painful absences in Twin Cities for me? Szechuan cuisine (for which I satisfied my yen over Thanksgiving in NYC) and a decent gourmet store. Malaysian! I also had to have this over Thanksgiving! Last night we tried Caspian Bistro, which we found lovely and I must say its Persian food was far more interesting than the Persian restaurants I tried in either NYC (Persopolis) or Philadelphia. It has an attached gourmet store that is probably among the best in Twin Cities. Cantonese? While there are none up to the level of the best places in NYC, we prefer Shuang Cheng or Dragon Court. Actually this reminds me of the remarks I least understood: about Rainbow Chinese. I found Rainbow to be horrendous, on the level of offensive, and a tremendous disappointment considering the hype. To be quite honest, anyone who thinks that Rainbow serves anything resembling authentic Cantonese cuisine, has not had real Cantonese food.