Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Mandarin Palace

After a few drinks at the Elephant & Wheelbarrow in the Valley on the weekend, a group of us headed off to dinner at the Mandarin Palace.

To be completely honest, the main reason we picked the Mandarin Palace was because we had a big group, and we were looking for somewhere in the Entertainment Book.

In all my 15 years or so of eating Asian food in the Valley, I'd never been to the Mandarin Palace before, so I didn't have any spectacular expectations. I also have to admit that by the time we arrived at restaurant, I'd had a few drinks, so keeping any kind of decent notes was out of the question.

We were shown to a big table in the back part of the restaurant, past the fish tanks containing lobsters and live fish. We sat right next to the karaoke machine, which unfortunately wasn't working. On the other hand, it was fortunate for the restaurant, otherwise we might never have actually left.

We ordered a few of the usual suspects when it came to entrees. I had a couple of the Malaysian chicken satay skewers to kick off the night ($5.80 for two). For some reason I always find it hard to go past chicken satays. Anyway these turned out to be ok, but the chicken wasn't exactly tender. There was plenty of sauce though, which was very tasty. Around the table we also had san choy bau with Chinese sausage ($8.40 for two) and vegetarian spring rolls ($4.40 for two). I didn't get to try any of the other entrees, but were told they were good.

There were some great sounding main courses on the menu, including lobster with ginger & shallot (market price), braised abalone with Chinese mushroom & Chinese vegetable ($49.90)and the more affordable crispy roast duck ($19.80).

We ordered about 7 main courses, which spun around the giant lazy Susan in the middle of the table. Why don't more restaurants have lazy Susans? They are perfect for sharing food in a big group. Anyway I'd picked the home made crackling roast pork ($19.50) mainly because the picture looked so good. It turned out to be excellent. It arrived exactly as it looked on the menu - thin slices of well cooked pork (which were still tender and moist) that had a great layer of crispy crackling on the top. It was so good I could have eaten this dish all night.

Other main courses that impressed the table were the Ma Po bean curd with no pork ($12.80) and the deep fried bean curd with salt & pepper ($11.80). The Ma Po bean curd was very good - the silken tofu was in small cubes, rather than the more crumbled style which I've had before.

Our meals finished with fortune cookies for all. Unfortunately, I lucked out on my fortune, which sadly wasn't "You will definitely win the lotto on Tuesday".

Service was friendly and helpful throughout the night. Considering the amount of food we ordered, our mains came out in good time. There was also plenty of steamed rice for all of us around the table.

After approaching Mandarin Palace with little expectation, I left the restaurant with a new place in the Valley that I'd be more than happy to visit again.

What does all this mean? Good, fresh & tasty Chinese food with interesting options outside the usual suspects.

food bling ratings
Food - Good
Service - Good
Ambience - Classier than your average Valley restaurant, but with tanks featuring live seafood
Value for Money - Good
Wine - Compact selection
Vegetarian - Good

Mandarin Palace
11 Duncan Street
Fortitude Valley 4006
P - 07 07 32523636
W - http://mandarinpalace.com.au/

Mandarin Palace on Urbanspoon

No comments: