Mandarin Garden in Berkeley ?
Anybody been there and what are the great dishes to order there ?
I heard from a person that I respect the taste that the restaurant had unusual great dishes there - no names that he/she remembers. The patron asked the chef to make these unusual dishes that are not on the menus. Wonder why such seemingly great place never got coverage here ?
We've been fans of Mandarin Garden since 1979, but our visits have grown rarer over the years, simply because we get to Berkeley less often. We ate there a week ago Sunday, for the first time in 3-4 years, and found it as good as ever. Huynh is still presiding, and the menu and decor were very familiar. Not having been there for so long, we stuck with our two favorite dishes, Beef a la Hunan and Diced Chicken with Bean Paste and Walnuts.
Huynh reports the restaurant has suffered the last few years, first from the reduction in tourism after 9/11, second from the reduced UC Berkeley budgets for departmental dinners. In the good old days of academia, a visiting professor would give a seminar and the department would then host a dinner. Those dinners are now less frequent and have smaller budgets.
The menu is large, and we may earn the disrespect of our readers by admitting that over the years we've left most of it untried. Our tastes tend toward spicier dishes, and away from such fare as sizzling platters. From his toddler through pre-teen years, our son might join us, and then we added lemon chicken to our repertoire, also very good.
If memory serves, the restaurant is owned by four partners, one of whom is Huynh, and another of whom is the main chef.
You may also notice that the restaurant enjoys a second listing as Yu-Ying Garden. They changed the name for a few years in the 1990s to honor one of the elders in Huynh's family.