Mandarin Garden Restaurant - delicious northern Chinese with an unfortunately familiar name
Unable to get a table at Buk Chang Soon Tofu, my folks hit Mandarin Garden a few doors north. The next day, they insisted that I join them for another round.
We were lucky to get a table for 8 (and a half!) as it was getting busy. The dishes we ordered were -
Ma Po tofu, with no meat for my veg. mom. It was outstanding. The flavours were unlike any other recipe I had ever had. I think I detected caraway, szechuan peppercorn, and coriander seed. Very complex, sweet, spicy, and salty.
Lamb skewers - pretty standard northern stuff (at least judging by the 2 or 3 other northern joints I've been to). The meat was very tender and highly seasoned with cumin. Delicious.
Sauteed potato, eggplant, and green pepper - this was the star of the meal. The potato was fried crispy, the green pepper was firm and crunchy, and the eggplant was melt-in-your-mouth. So so good.
Golden Lily Mushroom Salad - Cucmbers and enokis is vinegary sesame oil dressing. A light and tasty app that everyone enjoyed.
Pork leg bone - basically a bowl of knuckles that came with plastic gloves, removing any questions about the right way to eat it. Pretty good. i probably wouldnt order it again, but i didnt hate it either.
Chili Chicken - after reading a few posts in other threads regarding the quality of an establishment's chili chicken as it relates to the overall skill of the chef, I threw this dish in as my choice. I had never had this dish before, and it was delicious. The dish was pushing out a very pungent, peppery aroma that had our mouths watering. The chicken was extremely flavourful and the heat was strong, but didn't linger. Loved it.
Shanghai noodles - this was the closest thing to a requested ho fun (I know its not close, but this was the closest) dish, the orderer was not disappointed in the least. The beef was very ender and the flavours were fresh and right.
Seafood fried noodle - very close in flavour and composition to the shanghai noodles, and therefore, well recieved.
Shrimp Fried Rice - very light tasting, which we all appreciated next to the very flavourful rest of the meal.
We all left stuffed, glowing, and raring to go back.
Highly recommended, by a kid who grew up near Spadina Avenue!
Mandarin Garden Retaurant
5463 Yonge Street (south of Finch)
647 349 7588
I live by there also but haven't been myself but thought I'd add my gf's comments. My gf went with her friends and they thought it was passable. It was decent but not VERY good.
Basically I asked her if we should go there in the future or continue to go to other places up north, and her answer was that we should continue to head to markham/richmond hill.
The lamb is indeed a little bit fatty. It didnt bother me.
As for there being better places elsewhere- Im sure there are. Like I said, my experience w/ northern food is limited (chinese trad. buns- like it, mothers - blechhh, asian legend - passable) and rarely do we get to Markham/RH - so that's where I'm coming from. Also, my family dining experience generally gravitates to cheerful, unpretentious eateries. We really value low-cost, family run establishments and often 8 is a small number (3 siblings, their S/Os, etc...) - this joint fit the bill nicely.