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Oh Moy Gowad!!! Mulan, Cambridge Report 11/22/06

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You know, it's interesting to discover the Chs you share taste with, and those whose taste is NOT yours. Well, whoever the naysayer who said he found Mulan's food dull, any of my restaurant reviews will be worthless to you. You and I have COMPLETELY different taste in food.either that, or the chef was sick the night you went in, and the irish busboy cooked all your food.

well, after doing my extensive CH reserach on this place, we hopped in the car, parked right in front and walked into a 1/4 filled room on this Thanksgiving Eve.
d had said, as we approached the door, "we have so many leftovers in the frig, let's NOT order alot tonight". so, we sat down and I ordered 11 things. for our large, extended, but sadly invisible family, and... the 2 of us !! and you will be relieved to know that
yes, our extra refrig WAS able to accomodate all the resulting leftovers.

thanks to the pioneering CHs who had first explored the Mulan territory, we had a list of 'must haves', but we, too , ordered some new things for YOU to learn about!! it's the least we could do, right?

The very best, could not live without, WOWWW!!!! dishes were:

Smoked Pork with Leek- rich ham colored smoked pork slices with a piquant soy based sauce and sliced crunchy wonderful lotus root, leeks, red peppers.

Shredded Beef with Crispy Well Vegetables (another one of those bizarro chinese to english translations that makes you wonder, WHERE did they ever get 'well vegetables' for 'fern'???!) That fern, which i have only had in Japanese food (they call it Zenmai)is just amazing.(actually they do serve it at medford's chili garden and camb's anise, but it is inferior to mulan's). the long thin purple stems, combined with the long thin strands of beef to look like a large attractive dish of brown and purple linguini. such unique flavor and great chewy/crunchy texture. (Can you tell this was my desert island pick?)

Pork and String Bean dumplings with lovely soy/sesame oil dipping sauce. It didn't taste of green beans, but the waitress assured me that that IS what was combined with the pork. just succulent and addictive .

Spicy beef and Leek Wrapped in Pancake(listed under the Noodles section of the menu), aka Mulan Beef Burritos. cilantro mixed with the shredded beef added a great deal to the whole succulent juicy crunchy chewy combination.

Tea Smoked Taiwanese Duck . perfect tea smoke flavor. Very clean flavor,not heavy smoke, with lovely med rare meat; no greasiness whatsoever. skin v light brown; not the deep mahogany color i've seen before on this dish.
Generous half duck portion for cheap money.
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Our other excellent dishes included:
Crispy salty chicken matchsticks topped with fried basil leaves. lovely balance of flavors and textures.

The fried taro cake cubes (they call taro 'turnip' on this menu, but as you taro lovers know, taro is a root veg like a potato and bears no flavor resemblance to turnip.) were a great foil (Like french fried or roasted cubed potatoes) for many of our no-starch protein dishes w/ sauce.

Sauteed watercress w garlic was very generous serving, perfectly cooked/crunchy. very light clean flavor that went well with the more full flavored dishes.

Eggplant with Basil was tiny lavender asian egplants sauteed with some cubed hottish green chilis in a thicker soy based sauce and topped with fried basil leaves. silky.

Soft tofu topped with Dry Beans: what a fascinating combination of flavors and appearance; the bright white creamy tofu under the crunchy blanket of reddish toasted ground soybeans.

Rice Noodles with Pumpkin- was the only dish i wouldn't order again. when i asked the waitress if the noodles were chow fun, she said yes, but instead they were vermicelli-like rice noodles w slivered veggies. the dish did have flavor, but was not distinct enough for me to order again.

The only really negative taste experience we had the whole night was not with the food. it was the TEA!! watery and flavorless.how surprising.

The head waitress was helpful and friendly but her english was minimal. The room was clean, bright, acceptable. nice to have banquette seating.

We have NEVER been to a Chinese restarant before with this number of really unique and superbly prepared dishes.

We won't be bringing home leftovers from TH tomorrow, so we'll have a Mulan- leftovers post-Th feast all this coming week!!

Hoorah and thanks to Mulan and the CHs who paved the path to this amazing culinary destination!!

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  1. I'm glad you liked Mulan - I'm one of the CHs who has said *she* found it bland. To each her own, I say (BTW, I have checked out your posts and we do agree on many things food-wise - so I don't think you can make a blanket assertion about a Chowhounder's taste in food).

    I'd recommend you try some of the other well-regarded Chinese spots (Shangri La, Qingdao Garden, Sichuan Gourmet in Billerica) mentioned on this board and compare to see if you find their dishes "unique" and "superbly prepared" as well. I'd argue that those spots are just as authentic and much more tasty than Mulan.

    But again - glad you had a good meal. Ours was not and we won't be back.

    5 Replies
    1. re: gansu girl

      gansu, by the way, did you order and consider bland any of the dishes i loved?

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        Yes, the beef w/"well vegetables," although that was our favorite of the bunch. We ordered the same dumplings you guys did - I thought they were passable, but not nearly as good as Qingdao's dumplings - the wrappers on the Mulan dumplings were tasteless and the filling was not as filling. We were just at Qingdao last week and had the pork and string bean dumplings and they are like a little party in your mouth.

        The other dish we ordered was the shredded pork w/dried bean curd - doesn't look like you got that . . . .

        1. re: gansu girl

          hey gansu, if i go to qingdao for those amazing dumplings (and plse tell me your other favs there) will you give mulan a second chance and order the beef and leek wrapped in pancake and the smoked pork with leek and the smoked duck??!! let's do it!

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            I would definitely consider taking you up on this challenge - my husband is going to be tough to convince, though. I'll let you know!

      2. re: gansu girl

        I have to say, I live three blocks from Shangri La (which I love) and still find it worth the trip from time to go to Mulan for the wonderful stuff their. On the other hand, I am not a huge Qingdao Garden fan.

        Vive la diference...

      3. am looking forward to trying the ones you listed, as so many CHs love them, i know. have tried both loca of szichuan garden- brkline village and woburn- and liked the food 1/3 as much as mulan. v.good food, but too much sameness in treatment of the 'apps'.

        on wed.it was going to be anise or mulan,but
        at the paddock chowfest the other night, beetlebug, who also likes your favs, suggested that we might like mulan, which she really likes. after further research, we chose mulan. i do hope our 'experience of a lifetime' won't turn out to be a be a fluke. we'll definitely be regulars.

        1 Reply
        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Have to say that yes, Sichuan apps can be similar--thing is, why order multiples of stuff in "spicy chili sauce" or whatever they call it? Because it is the same sauce, or near enough. Better luck mixing things up. If you go back to Brookline Sichuan Garden try the cold rabbit in red Chengdu sauce (from the "Chinese" menu). Spicy (if you use the peppercorn dip) but different. (I liked my one meal at MuLan.)

        2. had lunch here saturday + it was very good. a tasty plate of salt and pepper pork chop.