On a recent visit to Mandarin House, we were greeted at the entrance by massive twin foo dog statues—traditionally seen guarding Buddhist temples—which gave us but a hint of what we would see inside. The interior was resplendent in red, gold and green accents, and had such over-the top accoutrements such as a pagoda and koi pond in the lobby and a bar with fabulous crimson button-tufted vinyl panels along the front, we were hooked before we ever got to our table! The vibe was at once quirky, traditional and inviting.
The dining room (renovated in 1989) was huge; the restaurant also does a brisk banquet business, and so has room to spare. The wait staff delivered food via carts in order to better cover ground. We really appreciated the elbow room!
The menu at Mandarin House ran the gamut of Chinese favorites, with a multitude of selections listed under Fowl, Pork, Beef, Seafood, Hot Pots, Tofu, Vegetables, Rice and Noodle, as well as Chop Suey and Chow Mein and a bevy of appetizers and soups. We began with one of our favorite starters, Crab Rangoon ($5), which came four to the plate and were served with both spicy mustard and, our favorite, sweet duck sauce. These were very straight-forward, crispy outside with a healthy dose of cream cheese inside—a good example of a simple dish that is best left alone. We appreciated that there were so many appetizers to choose from, and next time we plan on trying the Assorted Appetizer Platter ($14) to get a better overview of the offerings.
We moved on to the Sizzling Rice Soup ($7). We actually liked this dish as much for the sound the crisp rice made as it was added table-side to the broth as the taste! It was a very flavorful mix of chicken stock, shrimp and mushrooms. Once it was in the bowl, though, it got cold quickly, so we recommend not to dawdle over this dish.
For our mains, we decided to go with an old favorite, as well as something new to us: the Pork Lo Mein ($10) and the Flounder in Sezchuan Bean Sauce ($15). Lo mein has long been one of our go-to selections when we visit Chinese restaurants, and Mandarin House’s version didn’t disappoint. The noodles were tender with plenty of bits of pork mixed in. The flounder featured large pieces of battered fish in a spicy sauce with water chestnuts and a variety of veggies. We were warned by several of the wait staff that the dish was plenty spicy, and they weren’t kidding! While there was heat to spare, the spices didn’t get in the way of the overall flavor of the dish. Portions for both of our entrees were huge, as well, and we ended up with plenty of leftovers.
The Chinese fare at Mandarin House wasn’t groundbreaking or cutting edge. But for an expansive selection of familiar, comforting favorites, and pretty good prices to boot, it’s definitely a go-to destination.