Sherman's Food Adventures: New Mandarin

New Mandarin

As I've mentioned many times in the past, there are plenty of spots for Dim Sum in the Lower Mainland.  However, there aren't that many new ones opening up (other than a few being renamed or bought out).  So when New Mandarin opened its doors a month ago, it has been high on my list.  Situated in the new T&T complex on Kingsway near Victoria, the place fills a need since there aren't many Dim Sum joints in the immediate area.  One would have to drive South to Western Lake or East to Come Along for the nearest competitors.  Strangely, they have 2 separate entrances from the outside which caused a bit of confusion.  Interestingly, there was no inside entrance from the parking lot.

As we sat down in the nicely appointing dining space, we were a bit surprised at how cramped it was.  Still comfortable though.  Getting to the food, we decided to get both the Black Truffle Siu Mai as well as the Siu Mai with quail's egg.  Naturally both were very similar having the same base meat mixture.  It was quite good with a light bounce texture that was varied with a meaty crunch from the shrimp.  Flavours were mild with only a slight sweetness accented by the natural pork flavour.  Of course the dollop of black truffle on top added a considerable amount of earthiness that I feel goes well with robust siu mai (doesn't work will all Chinese food).  As for the quail's egg, it was perfectly runny where not only did it provide appealing visuals, the silkiness of the yolk added a richness to the dumpling.

Onto some rice noodle rolls, we got both the Beef Rice Noodle Roll as well as the Shrimp Vermicelli Rice Noodle Roll.  Looking pretty typical, the beef rice noodle roll was stuffed full of tender and airy beef mousse.  In some sense, it lacked any real meat texture since it was essentially fluffy with bits of green onion.  The rice noodle was tender and soft with only a slight amount of elasticity.  It was just thick enough in our opinion.  Where the beef was lacking in texture, the shrimp rice noodle roll had plenty of it.  Beyond the same soft rice noodle, we found a layer of fried mung bean vermicelli which was crispy and light.  That was a nice counterbalance to the soft noodle as well as the meaty shrimp that had a good snap.  The shrimp was seasoned enough for impact while allowing the natural sweetness to come out.

Normally, we do not order the Pan Fried Daikon Pudding Cake since it is rather filling (actually we like the cubed fried XO version more), but my cousin's son really wanted it.  Hey, we spoil our kids right?  Anyways, this was pretty solid where the texture rode the fine line between firm and fluffy.  So there was still plenty of rigidity for it to stay in one piece without being dense.  There was a good mix of cured sausage and slivers of tender daikon inside while the pan fry was sufficient, but could've been more aggressive.  If you were wondering about the Ha Gau (since we already had the siu mai), it was good.  The dumpling skin was just a tad thicker than perfect, but it had a pleasant elasticity.  Inside, the shrimp filling was on point with a moist snap highlighted by the natural sweetness of the shrimp with the aroma of sesame oil.

Remember the beef in the rice noodle roll?  Well, the Beef Meatballs were actually even more airy and fluffy.  That would be good if we were talking about cotton candy, but for me at least, this lacked in the texture department.   It was as if I was eating a fish mousse dish rather than beef.  Too much baking soda and starch here.  At the very least, the meatballs tasted good with a balanced amount of greens and mild seasoning.  They were also rather large as well.  For one of veggie dishes (we had the gai lan too, but not much to talk about there), we got the Stir-Fried Pea Shoots with garlic.  This was a bit on the oiler side, but the wok fry was good where there was little moisture on the bottom of the plate.  Furthermore, the amount of minced garlic was aggressively which meant this didn't lack any flavour.

Doing their Mott 32 impersonation, the Hot & Sour Soup Dumplings looked and were presented the same way.  Wait, let me rephrase, the ones here were more Mott 32 than Mott 32 itself as we were didn't get the individual holders when we dined there.  In terms of execution, they were pretty close as the dumpling skin was thin albeit a touch soft.  Inside, the soup was tasty being tangy and spicy while the meat filling was tender and meaty without being gritty.  Back to my cousin's kids, they wanted Phoenix Talons and that they did with 2 orders!  This was also solid with plump chicken feet where the skin was soft yet not mushy.  Underneath, the cartilage and tendon were also soft, but not melted.  There was plenty of garlic and spicy notes to go with balanced amount of sweetness and saltiness.

One of the duds of the meal was the Beef Tripe served atop daikon.  As much as it was neatly presented in large slices, the texture was all wrong.  It was far too soft where it practically melted in our mouths.  Now that would be a good thing with many types of meat, but when it comes to tripe, it becomes unappealing.  There was none of the classic chewiness we normally associate with this dish.  However, the seasoning was on point and the daikon underneath was pretty good texturally.  For dessert, we got the Baked Egg Tarts which were good.  We found the pastry to be buttery and flaky with an appealing nuttiness.  The egg custard filling was silky and just dense enough that it wasn't watery.  There was just enough sweetness as well.  Overall, the food was pretty good, especially for a new restaurant.  Service was above average and the decor was pretty upscale.  I would come here again.

The Good:
- Above average eats (although a bit hit and miss)
- Solid service
- Validated parking (for 1.5 hours)

The Bad:
- Pricey
- Cramped seating arrangements


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