On a trip to the Miller Hill Mall over the weekend, I noticed Leann Chin had disappeared from the spot it once occupied in the food court. In its place now stands another Asian fast food outlet, called Mandarin Express.

For many years, Duluthians begged for Leann Chin to move into the area, including our own Tony Hart. Only a couple years after moving into town, they've apparently decided to pack up shop and move out. The company, based in the Twin Cities, has very few locations outside of that area. The expansion to Duluth was on a short list of locations away from "home" that included Fargo, Sioux Falls, and Minot.

I ventured over to the counter and explored their menu, finding that the menu options were all pretty much the same, except for some name changes. Being I was not only curious, but also hungry, I ordered a meal. While the name of the restaurant was different, the receipt still said "Leann Chin" on it. That got me curious, so I did a little snooping around online. Leann Chin still lists the Duluth location on their website as well.  It turns out that the parent company that owns Leann Chin also owns Mandarin Express. Bingo.

The Duluth News Tribune also did a little digging to see why the change was made, but turned up no good answers. The results of their research into why the change was made ended with spokespeople from both the Miller Hill Mall and Leann Chin declining comment on the situation.

According to the same Duluth News Tribune piece, lovers of fast Asian cuisine might actually be happy with the change. They report that sauces are made on site, rather than being shipped in from elsewhere. My experience with the food that I ordered was that it was of the same quality Leann Chin offered while they were the name on the sign.