Cannot Get Enough of the "New" Mandarin Kitchen
The Condiment Queen could, push come to shove, eat Chinese food more often than me, but she has a much greater need for variety. I'm quite comfortable camping out one place, one place being the garish Mandarin Kitchen. Right now I would offer Shanghainese food as my favorite form of Chinese food. Plus, I would offer that Shaghai food more closely "fits" our climate in Chicago than other kinds of Chinese food. Which is just a few reasons that I want to keep on eating at the Mandarin Kitchen. Really liking the food helps too. I especially like Mandarin Kitchen with the Brilliant One, who like at all Chinese outings with him, enables a little deeper menu probing.
The ever competitive B1 HAD to have some kind of Shanghainese soup mentioned on the Vancouver Chowhound board. There was no way I could have ever got to this dish without him unless I had ordered the dish purely at random*. We were told that this was a very homestyle dish, and just the tureen alone, when it showed up at the table with its various burn marks and other dings and dangs, seemed straight from someone's kitchen. Surely, this soupish item did not seem like "casserole with fresh pork and salt pork." See here for more on this delicious soup.
We had two dishes that looked quite similar, the classic Shanghainese braise of rock sugar, dark soy and vinegar. One contained meatballs, the other chicken with chestnuts. It was worth having both. I really liked the chestnuts that got just soft enough in the braise, and the flavors of liquid did just enough to off-set the heaviness of chestnuts.
The flounder with seaweed was still as tasty as Seth Z previously described, but it was not quite as salty this time. I prefer the saltier version, but the enormously charming Idee, who manages The New Mandarin Kitchen, sez that Shanghainese prefer it less salty. I suppose the version Seth and I had, that we liked so much before was the less authentic version.
Cold appetizers, yesterday tendon in chile oil and peanuts with seaweed (sea moss) and hot appetizers, complimentary vegetable dumplings and the de rigueur soup dumplings were as good as always.
It is gonna be hard to get me to another restaurant in Chinatown in the near term.
The New Mandarin Kitchen
2143 S Archer
*It goes without saying that but for Seth Z's dinner at the famous New Green Bo in NYC, I would never know of the value of fish with seaweed. As I have said 100's of times, it is amazing how much better my eating has gotten since the discovery of Chowhound/LTHForum.com