Mandarin Garden visit - Concord Chinese-Korean
When "thesauce" said there was a great Chinese-Korean I was delighted --- I miss San Wang and San Tung in SF.
Sadly, I was dining alone so only ordered one dish, the jiao zi (water dumplings). I think a thicker wrapper is just the style here. It was really tasty, and the balance of meat to green onions was good, more meat than onions.
At $5.55 for 12 dumplings, it was very reasonable, in fact this place easily qualifies as a real hole in the wall cheap eats find.
There was a big table of post-golf Korean buddies, another large table of local college students and a steady stream of "regulars". Little wonder, if I lived closer I'd be eating here once a week.
The downside - one of those places where you don 't want to look too closely at the kitchen. Unappealing bathrooms, wait until you get home. The waitresses are old school brusque and are almost running from kitchen to table to table. All in all, a San Francisco Chinatown like experience. But for $6-7 a meal for food this delicious, that is fine with me.
1740 Monument Blvd
Concord, CA 94520
re: Melanie Wong
After my review I went back several times to try other items. I too had their jiao-zi and I thought it was rather weak. The skin were too thick and it tasted like frozen jiao-zi you would buy at 99 ranch. I would stick with Chow-ma (jampon) or za-jian mein. Also, l have to agree with recycleit the place is a bit run-down and old. Come to think of it, only the two items (& potstickers) mentioned above is worth comparing to San-Tung.
Mandarin Garden's menu and lunch crowd is dominated American Chinese lunch specials, but if you look long enough you find a few clues that they have some Korean Chinese background, namely chachang mien and "spicy noodle soup", which I'm assuming from these previous posts is jjampong, though without having these posts in the back of my mind I don't know if I would have noticed any of this in the multi-page menu. I talked about the potstickers in the DOTM thread herehttp://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1012123?commentId=9558248#9558248, which had a flavorful, juicy filling. The jjajangmyun arrived in two separate bowls of noodles and sauce for me to mix together. The proprietress brought my potstickers and told me I hadn't mixed in enough sauce, "it is more delicious that way and it isn't too salty", which was true. I'm not someone with a salt aversion, but I've often found this dish to be too salty and yet still blah, the only flavor coming through being the salty bean paste. So I don't order it much, but I did enjoy this version. The noodles seemed like standard packaged noodles, but were cooked to the perfect, still slightly firm doneness. Everything in the sauce was very finely chopped, except two tailless perfectly cooked shrimp.
I wouldn't go out of my way for this restaurant, but as it is near a location I go a couple of times per month I'll likely be back to sample more goods, as there does seem to be attention paid to technique. Maybe I'll even try a lunch special with fried wonton skins that appeared to be very popular (admittedly, they did look well-fried).