Rainbow Chinese Restaurant & Bar

Twin Cities, Minnesota

3.2 / 12 votes

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An old Nicollet Avenue favorite

Restaurant, Bar

Good standard Chinese fare, many vegetarian options, some vegan options though not labeled.

Added by Matt Mackall on Feb 25 03 (last updated Jan 8 09)

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Most Recent Reviews

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The previous review scared me off from this place as I hate restaurants that don't disclose or even care about serving fish/oyster sauce to vegetarians.

But I gave this place a shot today and was not displeased. Our server assured us that the menu has been redone and revamped and that all dishes with the vegetarian symbol are 100% vegetarian, without fish/oyster sauce.

Our steamed vegetable dumplings ($7) were really tasty and light; the filler vegetables and mushrooms felt fresh, too. I think they're over-priced but they are definitely well-done.

I enjoyed my fried tofu with chives and mushrooms ($12). The sauce was light and not bogged down with corn starch and oil like you find at most Chinese strip-mall joints. I think there was some red wine in the sauce, too, which was a nice touch. The dish could have used way more tofu (there were only four pieces in the whole dish but no end of bean sprouts), but the flavor was subtle and good. My friend's non-veg dish also looked pretty fresh, simple and appealing. No grease, no rapidly-congealing sauces.

I also liked Rainbow's non-alcoholic cocktails which consisted of clever mixes of pop and fruit juices.

The decor is nice and modern and this is a good place to take a date.

I only have two gripes about Rainbow: a) they don't offer brown rice and; b) the portion sizes are way too small for the prices (most dishes are $12).

So while I like the light and un-greasy flavors at Rainbow, I'd still much rather go a few blocks up the road to Evergreen, which is cheaper, gives larger portion sizes, and has an infinitely more innovative and vegan-friendly menu. Rainbow makes good food but the dishes are pedestrian. Evergreen makes excellent food and has dishes you won't find anywhere else in the country. As such, I know where I'll be spending my food dollars.

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I've eaten at the Rainbow numerous times over the last five years. I've always found the food to be delicious, the portions, generous and the ambiance to be lovely.

Until tonight, I did not realize that Rainbow Chinese is not the vegan-friendly or vegetarian-friendly restaurant I had thought it to be. When I arrived tonight, I informed my waiter that I am vegan. According to my waiter, there is only one dish which is pure vegetarian, as ordered right off the menu. It's the spinach-portabella mushroom dish on the vegetarian menu. I've had it before. It's delicious!!

He advised me that ALL the rest of the items, even those on the "vegetarian menu" contain fish sauce. This is where things got complex. I commented that I'd just order one of the dishes without the fish sauce. But he advised me that they cannot (and do not) actually prepare the dishes without the fish sauce, even if the waiter accepts your order that way. Hmmmm.... He mentioned that this was an issue dear to his heart and that he had discussed this issue with the owner. Unfortunately, according to my waiter, she simply does not grasp the importance pure-veg cooking to those of us who are pure vegetarian or vegan. What's the harm in a little fish sauce, eh? ; - )

However, my waiter was so sweet and helpful. He suggested a wonderful vermicelli rice-noodle dish, a dish he knew could be made without the scrambled egg or the fish sauce. I took his advice and it was delicious.

So, if you are vegan and patronize this restaurant, please be aware of this issue.

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Eat Street (Nicollet)


Accepts Reservations

Wheelchair Accessible


$$ - average


  • MasterCard Visa


  • Szechuan
  • Cantonese



11am - 2pm;
4:30pm - 9:30pm
11am - 11:30pm
11am - 9:30pm

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