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Save This Restaurant - New Mandarin Kitchen*

Save This Restaurant - New Mandarin Kitchen*
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  • Save This Restaurant - New Mandarin Kitchen*

    Post #1 - October 31st, 2005, 12:16 pm
    Post #1 - October 31st, 2005, 12:16 pm Post #1 - October 31st, 2005, 12:16 pm
    We walked into Mandarin Kitchen last night at about 6 PM. We walked out around 7:30. During that time, two other sets of customers arrived--to eat hot pots. Our table, however, was the only one to sample the Shanghainese and Northern Chinese specialties. A confidential source has reported similar sparse crowds. If Mandarin Kitchen cannot thrive because of this fallow patronage, it will be a real loss to our area’s eaters. When the un-interested make their usual banal, no good Chinese food in Chicago statements, the death of Mandarin Kitchen will inadvertently support their no-nothingness. This is a restaurant that does not deserve to die.

    Already, I would say it suffered a bit from non-use. The salty vegetable and bean curd, one of my favorite of the cold appetizers, a fine mix of green something and tofu something that melds into a salty, vegetal bomb in the mouth, tasted tired. The thick and chewy Shanghai style round noodles seemed a bit too gloppy. The pond fish in spicy sauce did not taste fishy or off but my palate could tell that it was almost there. With Chinese restaurants you expect your fish to be not even close to this stage. Still, Mandarin Kitchen showed why it should matter to Chicago chowhounds and Chinese food mavens. It provides a menu filled with choices. All the standards of the Shanghai cannon, the soup dumplings and assorted items in chili oil like razor thin tendon, ten or so variations on bean curd, several items in the brown braising sauce almost equal amounts sugar and soy (with a few other ingredients to elevate). It is a rich, hearty food that should go well in Chicago. Perhaps because Shanghai food has not become “in” in Chicago, Mandarin Kitchen has been adding many dishes from Beijing, where the owners actually hail. A lot of this stuff is written only in Chinese but the menu now contains a few items like chicken and potato casserole that is more Northern than Eastern. As if ordering before was easy.

    To tempt us towards this new direction, Aidee, the sly and attractive owner of MK grilled us up, on the house, some lamb kebabs coated in spices more Indian than Chinese (it seemed). Do order these when you help save this restaurant. We also ordered the Northern beef stew with crinkly sheets of dry tofu. A great rich dish (again highly desirable for our climate) that was somewhat marred by too much sterno underneath. Once we figured out how to cap the flame, we liked this dish better. More Shanghai was soft tofu cubes in a sweet dressing with plenty of contrast from a Chinese pickle. Our final dish was sautéed eggplant, than in the wonders of Chinese translations, was actually batter fried eggplant slices briefly stir-fried with a double handful of snipped chives. A dish of strong, inter-mixed flavors, salty, sweet and sharp, just another reason to return to the “New” Mandarin Kitchen.

    I should add that before any of our dishes arrived; we got a bit of cabbage, slightly fermented and sneaky hot from several dried maroon peppers. We also got bowls of cabbage soup that tasted much like my Mom’s or Manny’s. At the original, Mandarin Kitchen, there was a crispy fried chicken known to eaters as gribenese chicken. Well, this soup would be a fitting match to that dish. The first Mandarin Kitchen did excellent versions of spicy, oily Szechwan style food. It was a shame it closed, but when it closed, there was still Lao Sze Chuan and Spring World doing equally good versions of this food (and subsequently, Sky). If the New Mandarin Kitchen leaves, there is really nothing else like it around. Save this restaurant!


    The “New” Mandarin Kitchen
    2143 S Archer
    Chicago
    (Chinatown)

    *Concept stolen from Time Out Chicago
  • Post #2 - October 31st, 2005, 1:04 pm
    Post #2 - October 31st, 2005, 1:04 pm Post #2 - October 31st, 2005, 1:04 pm
    If this is the place I am thinking of - right next to Phoenix, I'll second this emotion.

    Late this summer, after dropping off my husband near Soldoer Field for a concert, I decided to wait out traffic and enjoy and inexpensive dinner in Chinatown with my daughter.

    I attempted to visit Phoenix Dumpling House, but they were most definitely closed. There was a grandmother holding a small child who waved me into Mandarin Kitchen, I decided to take her up on it. Kids were obviously welcome there!

    My daughter and I were seated and given a menu. I ordered the Beef Scallion Pancakes, Potstickers, and on the the recommendation of my server the Shanghai noodles with pork and spinach.

    The beef Scallion pancakes were not like anything I have had. They were a sesame crusted caked filled with sliced beef, hoison, cilantro and scallion. Not what I expected - but very delicious. (If you order these, eat them quickly, they get VERY chewy as the cool) The potstickers were not very good.

    The noodles were outstanding. I was concerned they would be curried, thin noodles, as Shanghai noodles often are. These were thicker cut (a little thicker than a linguine, not quite chow-fun) They were served with a tangy soy sauce type gravy, tons of fresh pork and green and perfectly cooked - not gooey or mushy.

    All total, with tea, I think the bill was ~$15 with plenty of noodles left over. (After my toddler and I both had 3 helpings)

    I've been looking for an excuse to return - helping to save this place is a worthy cause.
  • Post #3 - October 31st, 2005, 1:42 pm
    Post #3 - October 31st, 2005, 1:42 pm Post #3 - October 31st, 2005, 1:42 pm
    I dropped by Mandarin Kitchen last week, and had a brief conversation with Aide. If there is interest, I would be more than happy to organize another Mandarin Kitchen dinner.
  • Post #4 - October 31st, 2005, 2:04 pm
    Post #4 - October 31st, 2005, 2:04 pm Post #4 - October 31st, 2005, 2:04 pm
    CrazyC wrote:I dropped by Mandarin Kitchen last week, and had a brief conversation with Aide. If there is interest, I would be more than happy to organize another Mandarin Kitchen dinner.

    C,

    Interest, absolutely. Count Ellen and I in for two. I also agree wholeheartedly with Rob, and thank him for bringing this to the attention of LTHers, it would be a shame on all of our parts to let Mandarin Kitchen fall by the wayside for lack of patronage.

    I've had many a wonderful lunch and dinner at Mandarin Kitchen, here's a link to a terrific LTHForum outing, which CrazyC setup with Aide, in March.

    Mandarin Kitchen cold plate, Jellyfish/tendon/bean curd noodle/duck/pickled vegetables
    Image

    Here are a few additional links to Mandarin Kitchen posts.
    link
    link

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - October 31st, 2005, 3:42 pm
    Post #5 - October 31st, 2005, 3:42 pm Post #5 - October 31st, 2005, 3:42 pm
    Sorry to shift gears a little but does anyone know the name of the place in the Chinatown mall "on the end directly across the street from the dreaded walgreens"? There were 8 x 10" photos of local celebs, Bob Sirott etc. We went twice and had the hot pot "upstairs" and really enjoyed it. I was the only American in the place as my wife is from China. Thanks!
  • Post #6 - October 31st, 2005, 3:55 pm
    Post #6 - October 31st, 2005, 3:55 pm Post #6 - October 31st, 2005, 3:55 pm
    Sounds like Lao Sze Chuan, mentioned in a ton of threads here.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #7 - October 31st, 2005, 4:01 pm
    Post #7 - October 31st, 2005, 4:01 pm Post #7 - October 31st, 2005, 4:01 pm
    I remember to have the hot pot you were taken upstairs. They gave us a ton of seafood, beef etc and then asked if we'd like more. Really good!
  • Post #8 - November 3rd, 2005, 11:41 am
    Post #8 - November 3rd, 2005, 11:41 am Post #8 - November 3rd, 2005, 11:41 am
    I live close by enough that I pretty much go there at least once every two weeks if not more often, both for dine in and take out, and I grew up in China until my early teens, their food is my "comfy" food.

    Try their breakfast/lunch on the weekend for a change from the typical uninspiring/unexciting dim sum around Chinatown. It's quite traditional and fitting to its norther Chinese palatte approach. Definitely a good spot.
  • Post #9 - November 3rd, 2005, 11:46 am
    Post #9 - November 3rd, 2005, 11:46 am Post #9 - November 3rd, 2005, 11:46 am
    Fenger-- what do you especially like for breakfast there? I'm intrigued.
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  • Post #10 - November 3rd, 2005, 10:47 pm
    Post #10 - November 3rd, 2005, 10:47 pm Post #10 - November 3rd, 2005, 10:47 pm
    Mike G wrote:Fenger-- what do you especially like for breakfast there? I'm intrigued.

    I usually go for their steamed buns (a.k.a. soupy dumplings), I believe they also have the real steam buns (a.k.a. Bao, or nothern style buns that are at least three times as big and no soupy stuffing). Of course, the fried dough (a.k.a. You Tiao), and Tofu soup (tofu+starched soup), both sweet and salty version (a.k.a. Tofu Nao) are the "comfy" chinese style breakfast I grew up with. Their congee (I only tried it once I think) is rather blend however compare to the more flavorful southern style. Add these with couple of cold dishes, I'm usually in a pretty "stuffed" mood afterwards.

    That's all I remember for now. It's been a while since I've been there for brunch, not due to lack of desire, but lack of time on my part. I dug this up online, not sure if it's their full menu,

    *CONGEE & DIM SUMS*
    Rice Congee 1.25
    Millet Congee 1.50
    Congee w/ Green Beans 1.50
    Sweet Red Bean Buns (2) 2.00
    Scallion Pancake 2.95
    Pan Fried Buns (4) 3.95
    Sticky Rice Shumai (6) 4.95
    Fried Buns w/ Chives & Egg (1) 1.50
    Scallions Sou-bing (w/pork) (1 ) 1.60
    Steamed Pork Dumplings (8) 4.25
    Radish Sou-bing (1 ) 1.25
    Steamed Pork Buns (6) 4.95
    Pan Fried Dumplings (6) 4.50
    Steamed Vegetables Dumplings (6) 3.95
    Mashed Taro w/ Eight Treasures 5.25
    Vegetable Bun w/ Black Mushroom (1) 0.90
    Scallion Pancakes Rolled w/ Beef 2.95
    Pan Fried Shanghai Wontons (8) 4.50
    Wontons w/Shanghai Cabbage in Broth (8) 4.75
    Eight Treasures Sweet Rice 5.95
    Homemade Sesame Pancakes 5.95
    Crab & Pork Steamed Buns (6) 5.95
  • Post #11 - November 7th, 2005, 10:32 am
    Post #11 - November 7th, 2005, 10:32 am Post #11 - November 7th, 2005, 10:32 am
    bumpin this to the top. I've tried to bring all my friends to MK for hotpot, and everytime during the week, the place is dead. it's beginning to scare me.

    MK has prix-fixe northern/shanghainese (3 plates + soup) at a killer price as well. with the all encompassing menu, it's easy to mix-n-match enough meals for the whole week. this place is easily my fave in china town, more than LSC, more than moon palace, etc.
  • Post #12 - November 7th, 2005, 5:52 pm
    Post #12 - November 7th, 2005, 5:52 pm Post #12 - November 7th, 2005, 5:52 pm
    TonyC wrote:MK has prix-fixe northern/shanghainese (3 plates + soup) at a killer price as well.

    Is this on the regular menu?
  • Post #13 - November 7th, 2005, 6:04 pm
    Post #13 - November 7th, 2005, 6:04 pm Post #13 - November 7th, 2005, 6:04 pm
    LAZ wrote:
    TonyC wrote:MK has prix-fixe northern/shanghainese (3 plates + soup) at a killer price as well.

    Is this on the regular menu?


    yes.

    When we were there a few weeks ago, we had the family dinner.
  • Post #14 - November 7th, 2005, 6:11 pm
    Post #14 - November 7th, 2005, 6:11 pm Post #14 - November 7th, 2005, 6:11 pm
    TonyC wrote:MK has prix-fixe northern/shanghainese


    Not challenging, just asking - do they consider northern and Shanghainese the same cuisine, or are they saying they have food from both cuisines?
    Last edited by nr706 on November 7th, 2005, 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #15 - November 7th, 2005, 6:39 pm
    Post #15 - November 7th, 2005, 6:39 pm Post #15 - November 7th, 2005, 6:39 pm
    well... the restaurant name translates to "big river north and south" so i think they got the northern part covered...

    written in the menu (and the walls) are mentions of Shanghai faves ... as far as the "big river south" portion... i wouldn't go there to eat Cantonese/Hokkien food, so MK = Northern + Shanghainese for me :)
  • Post #16 - November 15th, 2005, 12:46 pm
    Post #16 - November 15th, 2005, 12:46 pm Post #16 - November 15th, 2005, 12:46 pm
    saving Mandarin Kitchen 1 meal (3 plates at a time):

    pork liver/shrimp shanghai style stir fry + generic veggie stir fry
    Image

    fish in sweet/spicy bean paste sauce (and LOTS of bones)
    Image

    i believe you can eat a meal a day @ MK for a month straight and still not exhaust the possible combination of the prix fixe menu.
  • Post #17 - November 16th, 2005, 5:56 pm
    Post #17 - November 16th, 2005, 5:56 pm Post #17 - November 16th, 2005, 5:56 pm
    Please go easy on me, I'm a newbie and really have not developed the discriminating palette or food-based knowledge you guys have.

    My wife and I have been trying for some time to find a Chinese restaurant similar in quality to Joe’s Shanghai in NYC. I love those soup dumplings and when I lived in NYC, couldn’t get enough of them. My wife is a fairly picky eater so we stick to the “Americanized” plates offered. Her favorite there was General Tsao/Governor’s Chicken with a side of chicken fried rice. When my then fiance would visit, we’d seriously eat there at least once a week.

    Since moving back in Chicago last summer, we’ve tried a handful of places trying to find the same quality of food and have yet to succeed. After reading about MK, I thought maybe this could be the place.

    We ordered an order of the pork soup dumplings for an appetizer, General Tsao’s chicken, and a chicken fried rice. We were brought the rice first, then the GT, and finally the dumplings. The dumplings were nowhere near as good as Joe’s in NYC – something I knew to expect but I was hoping to be surprised. They seemed to have been rushed and when we served our first two they fell apart and we lost most of the soup.

    The GT’s chicken was not all white meat (my wife is particular about that ) and the sauce had some sort of sweet/bitter flavor that wasn’t something you go back for. The rice was standard, nothing to report there.

    Basically, it was an OK dinner and I’m sure that were we more adventurous we’d find some really interesting and great dishes at MK.

    Is anyone out there familiar with Joe’s Shanghai and can recommend a place in the Chicago area that can come close to it? All I need are good soup dumplings. I’ve tried the Phoenix dumpling house, Moon Palace, and now MK. Nothing compares. Thanks.
  • Post #18 - November 16th, 2005, 6:17 pm
    Post #18 - November 16th, 2005, 6:17 pm Post #18 - November 16th, 2005, 6:17 pm
    edgarg23 wrote:

    Is anyone out there familiar with Joe’s Shanghai and can recommend a place in the Chicago area that can come close to it? All I need are good soup dumplings. I’ve tried the Phoenix dumpling house, Moon Palace, and now MK. Nothing compares. Thanks.


    I'm not familiar with Joe's, but have you tried the soup dumplings at Ed's Potsticker House or Shui Wah? They are quite good.

    Ed's Potsticker House
    3139 S. Halsted
    Chicago, IL
    312-326-6898

    Shui Wah
    2126 S. Archer
    Chicago, IL
    312-225-8811
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #19 - November 16th, 2005, 7:04 pm
    Post #19 - November 16th, 2005, 7:04 pm Post #19 - November 16th, 2005, 7:04 pm
    edgarg23 wrote:All I need are good soup dumplings. I’ve tried the Phoenix dumpling house, Moon Palace, and now MK. Nothing compares. Thanks.


    Welcome to LTHForum, edgarg23! I'll try to go easy on you :)

    I've never had Joe's soup dumplings but I've had a lot of soup dumplings in Chicago, including all of the ones that you mentioned (some I love, some I can take or leave). What are the qualities about Joe's siu loong bao that you don't find in the ones you've eaten here? You refer to them as "better", but I'm curious...what makes them so much better? I'm anticipating a trip to NY in the spring and I'm wondering if you can sell me on paying a visit to Joe's.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #20 - November 16th, 2005, 8:55 pm
    Post #20 - November 16th, 2005, 8:55 pm Post #20 - November 16th, 2005, 8:55 pm
    edgarg23 wrote:Is anyone out there familiar with Joe’s Shanghai and can recommend a place in the Chicago area that can come close to it? All I need are good soup dumplings. I’ve tried the Phoenix dumpling house, Moon Palace, and now MK. Nothing compares. Thanks.

    Edgarg,


    May as well go to Ed's House of Potsticker for soup dumplings, that way you can say you tried all the 'good' one's in Chicago and nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to NY.

    Ed's House of Potsticker's Soup Dumplings
    Image

    While you're at Ed's get a few other dishes to comfort you in your disappointment.

    Smoked Pork w/Scallion Pancakes
    Image

    Lamb w/Cumin
    Image

    Garlic Eggplant aka Fish Fragrant Eggplant (Bad picture, great dish)
    Image

    I suggest reading Amata's GNR nomination for Ed's House of Potsticker post.

    Enjoy,
    Gary

    Ed Pot Sticker House
    3139 S Halsted St
    Chicago, IL 60608
    312-326-6898
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #21 - November 16th, 2005, 10:06 pm
    Post #21 - November 16th, 2005, 10:06 pm Post #21 - November 16th, 2005, 10:06 pm
    Edgar,
    I make it a point to go to Joe's Shanghai every time I'm in NY. For me, this is a great version of xiao long bao (little dumpling from basket). If you have serious aspirations of finding a dumpling of this caliber, I would recommend scaling back those expectations.

    There are some respectable attempts at this dish here. My personal favorite being at the Phoenix and I would second Stevez's sentiments that Ed's Potsticker is also worth a try.

    eatchicago wrote:What are the qualities about Joe's siu loong bao that you don't find in the ones you've eaten here? You refer to them as "better", but I'm curious...what makes them so much better?



    Michael,
    As far as why I prefer their soup dumplings to any that I've tried here, I would have to say that a few things come into play. For starters, the wrappers are thinner, making the wonderful flavors inside the highlight instead of being overwhelmed by the all so common doughiness of many thicker wraps.
    What's inside these dumplings is the real story, though. The richness of this soup is noteworthy. It tastes like thick aspic, which is what it is truly suppose to be when properly made. I suspect that inferior versions of this dish use a weaker soup in the dumpling instead of using a cube of thick, rich aspic. Even if this isn't the case, Joe's soup has much more flavor than any example I've tried here.

    We usually get Joe's pork and crab xiao long bao. They use a higher ratio of crab to pork in their dumplings.
    The crab, accompanied with the soup itself makes Joe's xiao long bao a great stop for a quick nosh while in New York's Chinatown.


    Outside Joe's Shanghai on Pell St.
    Image
  • Post #22 - November 17th, 2005, 11:59 am
    Post #22 - November 17th, 2005, 11:59 am Post #22 - November 17th, 2005, 11:59 am
    edgarg23 wrote:The GT’s chicken was not all white meat (my wife is particular about that) and the sauce had some sort of sweet/bitter flavor that wasn’t something you go back for. The rice was standard, nothing to report there.
    (snip)
    Is anyone out there familiar with Joe’s Shanghai and can recommend a place in the Chicago area that can come close to it?

    OOOF!!! MK just got slammed ;) now i know how gwiv feels about LTH.

    don't even know where to start on the 'white meat' comment. as far as Chinese (or dare i say "Asian") cuisine goes, i've always been told that dark meat tastes better and i find this universally true. perhaps the 'once you go black, you'll never go back' adage holds true for chicken as well? the all 'white meat' critque, IMO, is a wee bit unjust as there is no 'standard' for how General Tso's chicken, itself a non-Chinese dish, should be prepared. Tho, per The Definitive General Tso's Chicken page, drumsticks/thighs, ie, dark meat, should be used.

    re: Joe's Shanghai. having lived in Flushing, i've eaten @ both Joe's in Flushing & Chinatown many a times. one time, after the crab xiao long bao in Joe's Flushing came out smelling like the sewer, we stopped going. This place is more of a tourist attraction than true foodie attraction. There's equally good soup dumplings off the beaten path in both C-town and Flushing. can't recall the exact name in english.. but Shanghai Gourmet? on Mott has horrible service, dreary decoration and a great bao at a great price.

    i have no affils to Mandarin Kitchen, but i would not bother going to Mandarin Kitchen for my fill of "chicken fried rice + General Tso's chicken". g'luck in your xiao long bao search in Chicago!

    ps: what makes a xiao long bao special? according to Yi Yuan, a famous restaurant in Beijing, the xiao long bao's top should include 30 folds.
    Last edited by TonyC on November 18th, 2005, 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #23 - November 17th, 2005, 12:27 pm
    Post #23 - November 17th, 2005, 12:27 pm Post #23 - November 17th, 2005, 12:27 pm
    Thanks for the welcome and info everyone.

    Gary, I have actually been to Ed's (completely forgot) and didn't enjoy the soup dumplings - the wrap was too thick and the soup was not as tasty. I have enjoyed their other dishes however.

    TonyC wrote:OOOF!!! MK just got slammed now i know how gwiv feels about LTH.


    TonyC, I wasn’t slamming MK. I knew I wouldn’t be experiencing the real MK by ordering from their “American Favorites” side of the menu but I wanted to try their soup dumplings. And I readily admitted that we’re we more adventurous (I know that term probably means something completely different here on LTH) we would have probably had a better dining experience.

    TonyC wrote:the all 'white meat' critque, IMO, is a wee bit unjust as there is no 'standard' for how General Tso's chicken, itself a non-Chinese dish, should be prepared. Tho, per The Definitive General Tso's Chicken page, drumsticks/thighs, ie, dark meat, should be used.


    As I prefaced in my post, it’s my wife who prefers the white meat. Joe’s would serve their GT with big chunks of lean white meat, which she particularly enjoyed. Again, it’s the standard by which we judge other GT dishes. Have yet to find a similar rendition.

    TonyC wrote:re: Joe's Shanghai…This place is more of a tourist attraction than true foodie attraction.


    I only frequented the Chinatown location and I’ve had people tell me that it’s too touristy as it’s listed in plenty of tourist guides and draws its fair share. It never bothered me however as the food experience was well worth it. The also have communal seating so part of the experience is sitting at a large table with people you don’t know.

    Michael, PIGMON summed it up best. Everyone I have taken to Joe’s to try their soup dumplings simply can’t get enough of them. It’s also great place to introduce someone to NYC’s Chinatown. Their other menu items are equally as good and you can basically just point to anything on the menu and you’ll get something that you’ll enjoy.

    You guys are right, I have to adjust my expectations for soup dumplings here in Chicago. I need to start planning my next trip out to NYC.
  • Post #24 - November 17th, 2005, 12:54 pm
    Post #24 - November 17th, 2005, 12:54 pm Post #24 - November 17th, 2005, 12:54 pm
    edgarg23 wrote:As I prefaced in my post, it’s my wife who prefers the white meat. Joe’s would serve their GT with big chunks of lean white meat, which she particularly enjoyed. Again, it’s the standard by which we judge other GT dishes. Have yet to find a similar rendition.


    My wife also suffers from the same affliction. Try as I might, I can't get her to eat the more succulent and tasty dark portions of a chicken (she won't even eat chicken wings,l though they are technically white meat). The best thing to do when you have that sort of unusual request is to specifically request it when ordering. If the restaurant even has breast meat (some don't bother to carry it), they should be happy to get rid of...er I mean accommodate your request.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #25 - January 8th, 2006, 10:06 am
    Post #25 - January 8th, 2006, 10:06 am Post #25 - January 8th, 2006, 10:06 am
    This restaurant STILL needs saving (damn it!).

    The VI family and the Zim family did our part last night, but it was just a drop in the bucket. Saturday night, and besides us, about 3 or 4 tables with hot pots. C'mon guys.

    Mandarin Kitchen has not ditched Shanghai food entirely, but they have greatly augmented the menu with dishes associated with Northern China/Beijing. Chiefly, there are many new dumplings and pancakes on the menu. Also, as noted above, there are some very interesting breakfast items like the millet congee. Still, the 3 dishes for $23 deal remains, and still, it remains too hard to order everything I want.

    As I have always noted about this place, one has to order at least a few things from several catagories. From what I would call dumplings or hot appetizers, we got three kinds: lamb w/zuchini, pork and vegetable. From the cold appetizer (now de-emphasized w/o the Shanghai orientation) we got the ever popular micro-cut of tofu and salty vegetable. Noodles was Shanghai noodles with spinach and chicken strips. The 3 course of family dinner were eggplants battered, beef "home style" and tofu "home style". We resisted mightedly, the more expensive, "must try" section". I should also note that the soup du jour was Jewish style cabbage

    Would I say that our meal was top to bottom ten outta ten dishes? No. But in total, it made a great meal of cresending tastes and textures, flavors and sensations. The best was the beef, hot from a good amount (not a Zim amount though) of jalepenos. Also near the top, the fried eggplant. I've had great fried eggplant sticks at places like Joe's Stone Crab, where the inside was soft, almost a battered baba ganoush, but this fried eggplant stands firm against its crisp and oil free batter, well done for sure. Worse, probably the lamb and zuchini dumplings, which I wanted to order as soon as I saw them on the menu. Part of the problem was that the dumpling seemed undercooked when they first arrived, leaving them mushy in the mouth. Over time, they set up a bit, as chefs would say, but they stayed not that fun to eat. That soup, not as bad as the version we had at Jake's in Milwaukee, but not nearly as good as my mother's.

    RST has been on me to eat hot pot here. I agree that when I see it on the tables, it looks great. Yet, I cannot imagine forgoing a cold appetizer or two (spicy stomach when I am with more adventursome eaters) or Shanghai classics like the meatballs, and when I go some time with some high rollers, I wanna try the $20+ fresh water eel dishes and the fish in vinegrette, the latter dish looks great on the new helpful pictures in the middle of the menu. Who needs hot pot. Save this restaurant!

    VI
  • Post #26 - January 8th, 2006, 10:35 am
    Post #26 - January 8th, 2006, 10:35 am Post #26 - January 8th, 2006, 10:35 am
    Vital Information wrote:Who needs hot pot. Save this restaurant!

    Rob,

    Save this restaurant indeed, Mandarin Kitchen is a Chicago gem, sorry to hear it was so slow on a Saturday night. Mandarin Kitchen's hot pots are terrific, I'd suggest both spicy and mild broth. With a group, hot pot helps make for a very well rounded meal at Mandarin Kitchen.

    Mandarin Kitchen Hot Pot.
    Image
    Image
    Image

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #27 - January 8th, 2006, 10:38 am
    Post #27 - January 8th, 2006, 10:38 am Post #27 - January 8th, 2006, 10:38 am
    Hi,

    I am headed there today for a Mushroom club board meeting. We plan to have a club banquet there sometime in the next month or so. They've been very accomodating with serving us mushroom dishes with wild mushrooms we've supplied.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #28 - January 18th, 2006, 11:43 am
    Post #28 - January 18th, 2006, 11:43 am Post #28 - January 18th, 2006, 11:43 am
    Vital Information wrote:This restaurant STILL needs saving (damn it!).

    The VI family and the Zim family did our part last night, but it was just a drop in the bucket. Saturday night, and besides us, about 3 or 4 tables with hot pots. C'mon guys.

    Mandarin Kitchen has not ditched Shanghai food entirely, but they have greatly augmented the menu with dishes associated with Northern China/Beijing. Chiefly, there are many new dumplings and pancakes on the menu. Also, as noted above, there are some very interesting breakfast items like the millet congee. Still, the 3 dishes for $23 deal remains, and still, it remains too hard to order everything I want.

    As I have always noted about this place, one has to order at least a few things from several catagories. From what I would call dumplings or hot appetizers, we got three kinds: lamb w/zuchini, pork and vegetable. From the cold appetizer (now de-emphasized w/o the Shanghai orientation) we got the ever popular micro-cut of tofu and salty vegetable. Noodles was Shanghai noodles with spinach and chicken strips. The 3 course of family dinner were eggplants battered, beef "home style" and tofu "home style". We resisted mightedly, the more expensive, "must try" section". I should also note that the soup du jour was Jewish style cabbage

    Would I say that our meal was top to bottom ten outta ten dishes? No. But in total, it made a great meal of cresending tastes and textures, flavors and sensations. The best was the beef, hot from a good amount (not a Zim amount though) of jalepenos. Also near the top, the fried eggplant. I've had great fried eggplant sticks at places like Joe's Stone Crab, where the inside was soft, almost a battered baba ganoush, but this fried eggplant stands firm against its crisp and oil free batter, well done for sure. Worse, probably the lamb and zuchini dumplings, which I wanted to order as soon as I saw them on the menu. Part of the problem was that the dumpling seemed undercooked when they first arrived, leaving them mushy in the mouth. Over time, they set up a bit, as chefs would say, but they stayed not that fun to eat. That soup, not as bad as the version we had at Jake's in Milwaukee, but not nearly as good as my mother's.

    RST has been on me to eat hot pot here. I agree that when I see it on the tables, it looks great. Yet, I cannot imagine forgoing a cold appetizer or two (spicy stomach when I am with more adventursome eaters) or Shanghai classics like the meatballs, and when I go some time with some high rollers, I wanna try the $20+ fresh water eel dishes and the fish in vinegrette, the latter dish looks great on the new helpful pictures in the middle of the menu. Who needs hot pot. Save this restaurant!

    VI


    yes it was a very good meal, we really need to eat there more often. Just a couple notes on the food the noodle are by far our favorite dish there, the chewy homemade quality stand far above most noodles you get in this town, IIRC, they came with pork and spinach. As Rob mentions the othr standout was the salt and pepper eggplant, thin batter, crispy outside szechuan pepper tast - great stuff.

    Besides being very very good cooking, the place is also superemely affordable
  • Post #29 - January 18th, 2006, 1:55 pm
    Post #29 - January 18th, 2006, 1:55 pm Post #29 - January 18th, 2006, 1:55 pm
    I refer people to it all the time, but I admit I have not been there for a few months. My bad.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #30 - May 21st, 2006, 4:03 pm
    Post #30 - May 21st, 2006, 4:03 pm Post #30 - May 21st, 2006, 4:03 pm
    Wanted to bump this again. Thanks Tony and VI. Took the kids on an L tour of their own city yesterday (a glorious day). We looked in on some of the usual suspects in the mall, and I have not seen lines like this in Chinatown, ever. Even the least of the places was packed, with Chinese and non-Chinese customers alike. (What's with the tour buses full of Chinese speakers? Do Chinese tourists typically seek out Chinese food in the US?). Anyway, things looked bleak, and I did not want to go back to the board namesake, not that I don't love it, but was looking for something different. I remembered this string, thank God. My three kids and I were the only MK diners at 8:00 on a Saturday. Things got better by the time we left, with a couple of Asian ladies and then a Chinese hot pot extended family taking a big table. Finally a big group of gringo tourists came in with cheap wine and ordered General Tso's, having given up across the street.

    Anyway, everything was really great, particularly the hand-made noodles (made by the 20-something guy at the bar, according to him). Noodles were a bit less consistent and more gummy than Katy's, but still tremendously good.

    Communication was tough, as even my very limited restaurant Cantonese accomplished zilch. Lucky for me, dan dan mien registered. Wonderful stuff. Different from Katy's, so I won't try to decide which is better. Both are among the best pasta dishes in Chicago.

    My boy, whose single favorite food is duck noodles, was very pleased. Soup dumplings, while good, are not really soup dumplings. Order them, just don't go expecting soup. Chili oil to rival Gary's.

    I don't make it to Chinatown much, because Argyle and Ogden (burbs) are so much more in my regular orbit, but I'll have lunch at MK any time.

    Thanks again.

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