Sherman's Food Adventures: New Mandarin (Dinner)

New Mandarin (Dinner)

Whenever I see a new Chinese restaurant open up shop (in particular, one with Cantonese Dim Sum service), I quickly visit it for lunch and then subsequently go back for dinner not too long after.  Usually, there are 2 separate chefs for Dim Sum and dinner.  Hence, the food can be very different in style and execution.  So after a relatively decent Dim Sum experience at New Mandarin, we made reservations to go for dinner on Father's Day.  Unlike the seating in the VIP rooms for Dim Sum, we were situated in the main dining room for dinner.  However, much like the last time, the seating was far too tight where there was nowhere for the staff to go once everyone was seated.

We ended up going for a set menu with a few extra dishes.  It started off with the 3 Item Combination Platter consisting of sliced beef shank, marinated jellyfish and sliced pork hock.  This was a dinner for 6, so the portion sizes were a bit smaller.  With that being said, it wasn't very big even with that consideration.  Execution-wise, the items were quite good.  I found the jellyfish to be appealingly chewy while still soft.  It was impactfully marinated where the sesame oil and white pepper really came through.  The beef was tender where the braising liquid completely penetrated.  Gelatinized, the pork hock had a good rebound texture.  Next, we had the Swallow's Nest & Seafood Pumpkin Soup.  Despite its colour, the soup did not taste like pumpkin (which is a good thing because it can be too pungent).  There was a general lack of bird's nest but the seafood was plentiful and prepared well.

Usually, set meals tend to include the smaller lobsters and crabs for their shellfish dish.  Not here as the Lobster with Supreme Broth was absolutely massive.  Just picking up the claw was difficult.  In addition to that, it was prepared properly with bouncy moist meat that was sweet and briny.  There was just enough sauce to coat each piece and flavour the included bed of wonton noodles underneath.  I liked how they didn't charge extra for the noodles since it is not a surprise to pay anywhere from $5.00 to $10.00 for it elsewhere.  From there, we moved onto the Marinated Half Free-Range Chicken served with ginger and green onion condiment. About that condiment, it was legit where it was mostly ginger with only a bit of green onion.  As for the chicken, the skin was beautifully gelantized including an appealing layer of gelatin underneath.  The meat was tender with the classic free-range chicken chewiness.

There used to be a time when the fish course would be rock cod, but that is far too expensive and over-fished, so we had the usual Steamed Tilapia with onion, cilantro and sweetened soy.  I'm personally not a huge fan of tilapia because it can generally be rather mushy and bland.  Well, this was acceptable where the fish was cooked just enough.  It was somewhat flaky and moist while the soy did offer up the necessary flavour.  For our veggie dish, we had the Braised Pea Tips with lily bulbs and wolf berries.  Other than the lobster, this was one of the bigger dishes offering up tender pea tips that were still crunchy.  Being cooked in a broth, they were very mild tasting (but that is the point).  The addition of lily bulbs added a firm texture as well as another layer of sweetness to the dish.

We ended up adding a couple of dishes for the kiddies including the Sweet & Sour Pork and Scrambled Eggs & Prawns.  Made with pork belly and served with a bevy of fresh fruit (dragon fruit, cantaloupe and honey dew), the sweet & sour pork was quite good.  Due to the use of pork belly, the meat was tender with a wonderful rebound.  We found the sauce balanced with a good tang and sweetness.  The dish could've been a bit larger in portion size, but it wasn't too small either.  Surprisingly, the scrambled eggs and prawns was decent in size and sported a good amount of large prawns.  They were meaty with a moist snap.  Unfortunately, the eggs were a over done with parts that were seared too much.  Hence, the silkiness of the egg was intermittent and inconsistent.  Seasoning was on point though.

Lastly, we had the Seafood Fried Rice topped with fried garlic.  If I had to compare it to a recent version, this was much better than the one at Golden Restaurant.  There was much more wok hei which meant the rice was caramelized, nutty and chewy.  Also, there was plenty of seafood strewn throughout the rice.  Lastly, the seasoning was sufficient enough and the fried garlic on top helped with the aromatics.  It was agreed by everyone at the table that the food was above average.  Prices are on the higher end, but the class of restaurant reflects that with nice decor and generally good service.  However, a big issue was the lack of servers where we couldn't get most of our requests filled.  It was a challenge to even get the bill.  This is a real issue that they need to address.

The Good:
- Above average food
- Nice decor
- Service was good when we got it

The Bad:
- Expensive
- Seating is far to tight
- Not enough servers, was really hard to get anything

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