Light. That’s the one word that would be appropriate to describe the food at the long running Mandarette Cafe on Beverly Boulevard, just east of the Beverly Center. Having started 30 years ago as an offshoot of another restaurant in Beverly Hills, Mandarette has a casual setting and serves no nonsense Mandarin food with some modern California twists-courtesy of owner Ken Yang. The idea was to take traditional Chinese food, lighten up the heavy sauces, and make everything from scratch for the local health conscious market.
To say that they’ve succeeded would be an understatement. You will find some familiar Chinese dishes on the menu along with Mandarette’s “Signature” dishes and chef’s specials. If you need to make some changes to a dish, they will do their best to accommodate you. You can start by ordering some beer or wine, but do take notice of Mandarette’s homemade Ginger Root Ale, which is a refreshing treat. It was originally made by Mr Yang for himself and eventually added to the menu. It’s really like nothing you’ve had before, very natural and fresh with a deep ginger taste. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Once you’ve settled in with a drink, why not start the meal with some Cold Tofu Topped with Chopped Cilantro and Scallions.
The dish is light and the cilantro and scallions give the somewhat neutral taste of tofu just the right amount of bite without being overwhelming. Up next from the appetizer menu we ordered the Mandarette Potstickers. These can be steamed or pan-fried, and for the filling you have a choice of chicken, meat, or vegetable filling. Arriving hot, they were delightful.
Spring Rolls are always a good choice for a starter, and these tasty morsels come four to a plate with a sweet lemon tangerine dipping sauce.
Despite this already large amount of food, we were ready to order entrees. At Mandarette you have the typical menu divided up into sections for meat, seafood, chicken and fowl, noodles, and more. From the steamed rice dishes we ordered the Pineapple Seafood Rice.
This yummy combination was very interesting, with a mix of shrimp, scallops, squid, filleted fish, and vegetables sweetened up with chunks of pineapple. It’s recommended. At Chinese restaurants, duck is commonly served as a type of specialty. Although their Peking Duck is a customer favorite, we decided to try the ½ Roast Duck dish. You will get about a dozen pieces cut into strips with the skin on, and some Plum dipping sauce. It was also excellent.
Another very interesting entree we tried was the Pork Sausage Sautéed With String Beans. This dish has a generous amount of cooked string beans with sausage cut into small pieces. Once again, it had great taste.
The Strawberry Shrimp, however, is what caught us by surprise, and it’s a Mandarette Signature menu item. Cooked with their proprietary strawberry sauce, it’s served with sliced strawberries and steamed broccoli. Yes, it is a bit on the sweet side, but the overall taste was very pleasing and unique. This is also a customer favorite, and recommended.
Lastly, we had their Steamed Fish. This is a good-sized portion of sole, and is served with cilantro and a very light soy sauce. Sole doesn’t have an extremely fishy taste and this dish worked well for us too.
On this trip we didn’t sample any of Mandarette’s noodle dishes, but there are a number of them available. Their Szechwan Noodles have minced pork meat on egg noodles. You can also order dishes of Egg Noodles or Flat Noodles, either sautéed with a choice of B.B.Q. Pork, Beef, or Chicken. Among the other customer favorites, there is a Black Peppercorn Beef dish, the Ma Po Tofu appetizer, Lion’s Head Soup (with meatballs, glass noodles, napa cabbage), and the Medallion Baby Back Ribs appetizer. For dessert, try some of their scrumptious Ice Cream.
As Ken had told us, the Mandarette Cafe is serving Chinese food that is lighter in the way it is cooked and served. Don’t expect thick heavy sauces, MSG, fillers, or unhealthy ingredients. You will, however, get some delicious food that is sometimes a bit different. You can order their food to go, but I personally think you will have a much better experience dining in the restaurant and eating the food hot from the kitchen. If you’ve given up on finding good Chinese food in this neighborhood, please stop in at the Mandarette Cafe and find out for your self.
8386 Beverly Blvd