I Speak Mandarette

November 17, 2011

in restaurant

I’m always writing about how it’s impossible to find good Chinese food in Los Angeles. Sure, there’s the San Gabriel Valley, but around my area, there’s very few places that are decent – forget about authentic – I mean “yummy” in a very general sense.

I forgot about Mandarette.

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When we first moved to Los Angeles, I used to eat and order out from this place all the time. It’s a celebrity favorite, located near the Beverly Center.

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I met up with their PR rep for lunch yesterday. We both started off with soups.

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I ordered the “Lion’s Head” – usually it comes as one giant meatball, but these were cut up. A very different texture/flavor – I was hoping this would bring me back to childhood but it didn’t. Only had a few sips…

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…plus a taste of the Hot and Sour

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I spoke to the waitress in my broken Mandarin.

“Level with me,” I said (I think). “What would you order for a Chinese person? Not an American.”

She guided me towards the Pan Fried String Beans…

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…these did not disappoint. Cooked through but still crunchy, with a wonderful garlic flavor – reminded me of my mom’s version. I began nibbling right away.

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A standard order I used to always get here – Salt and Pepper Tofu

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Fried crispy on the outside, soft and pillow-y on the inside. These were as good as I remember them being.

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Another popular dish at Mandarette is their Strawberry Shrimp – there’s a trend in the last decade or so to deep-fry seafood with mayonnaise and sugar. It hope it sticks around; it works.

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Brown rice to soak it all up

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I filled up on two plates -

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Mandarette is one of those rare places where you will be happy if you want very good “Americanized” Chinese food – and if you want something “authentic,” make sure you ask. (FYI Their English is a lot better than my Mandarin.)

The myth that Chinese food makes you hungry an after hour eating it definitely doesn’t hold true for me – I didn’t feel ready to eat again until 9pm.

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What’s your go-to Chinese food delivery order? Mine used to be Chicken and Broccoli, but I haven’t had it in years!

Mandarette on Urbanspoon

{ 12 comments }

1 Living, Learning, Eating November 17, 2011 at 8:11 am

I’ve never heard that myth – I find Chinese food super filling! I love brown rice with yogurt, peanut butter, cinnamon, and chopped apples (yum, though not Chinese).

2 emily (a nutritionist eats) November 17, 2011 at 8:22 am

The green beans look amazing! My standard order (although we have yet to receive a Chinese delivery flyer at our new place) is shrimp & broccoli.

3 Healthy Coconut November 17, 2011 at 8:25 am

I started learning Chinese for about 2 years when my company offered free classes, but since I didn’t use it very much….I forgot what I learned. I can count to 10 in Chinese though, lol!

My current favorite Chinese restaurant here in Orange County is Furiwa in Westminster. We go for Dim Sum there often. I also like Ten Ten Restaurant in Cerritos.

4 Cindy November 17, 2011 at 8:40 am

The only thing close to authentic here is Hong Kong Chinese BBQ. $7 buys you a half of roasted duck with rice. You get the bonus of watching the woman in the window wielding her cleaver. No place to sit and it is packed during various American and Chinese holidays.

Go to American Chinese take out: Broccoli in Garlic sauce with Fried Tofu. Spicier the better.

5 wyn November 17, 2011 at 9:11 am

saw your Tweet about shrimp and mayo and didn’t know it would be shrimp+mayo+strawberry. it looks like a beautiful dish… now i want a recipe for it!

6 Molly November 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

authentic chinese food is rough to find! I went to China over the summer and since then I can’t handle sub-par chinese because the real stuff is just way too good. I’ve been craving szechuan eggplant since i left Beijing… :(

7 Let Me Eat Cake November 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

strawberry shirmp yum! and i agree keep up the deep frying and coating with mayo and sugar i love it :) and those fried string beans look sooo goo!

8 Erica November 17, 2011 at 11:25 am

Love me some Hot and Sour soup. And that shrimp sounds totally interesting! Strawberries- huh? I just like simple stir fry veggies

9 semicharmedla November 17, 2011 at 11:43 am

I’ve had those string beans before! So good. I’m always a little wary of mayo in Chinese food though. I used to be an orange chicken and fried rice girl.

10 Alice November 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

LOL shrimp and mayo. Longer than a decade – it was my mom’s favorite course at my parents’ wedding! One time I had dinner at PF Changs (guilty pleasure Americanized “Chinese” food), ordered their shrimp & mayo (which comes with melon balls), and a woman at the table next to me gawked and loudly commented how all Asians seem to like fruit with their entrees. As if we didn’t understand English or something…? Overgeneralizations aside, looking forward to trying this strawberry version!

11 Jaime November 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

String beans like those pictured here are a go-to favorite. Another is this shrimp dish that is lightly battered/fried, then stir-fried in a chile-sauce (might be Korean, since this is a Chinese place run by Koreans). At most American Chinese places I order Kung Pao chicken. Rarely spicy enough for me but the sauce is usually good. I wish we had another Dim Sum place here, the one that does it is good but the selection is limited.

12 caloricandcrazy November 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I want to try that salt and pepper tofu! It looks soooo good.

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