There is a restaurant in Western New York where you can dine-in, affordably, at a quality Asian restaurant.
Sure there are scores of local Chinese restaurants. Most of their business is take out or buffet where staff loads up food in wells on steam tables, cheap, piled high, larded with MSG and for the most part indistinguishable one from another.
Now we have a local, authentic Asian restaurant where you can eat Chinese not off a buffet table, or 30 minutes cooled out of a takeout container, but cooked to order, served fresh, perfectly spiced, fresh from the high temperature wok [ it’s the high heat that gives food that indescribable, flavorful edge known as “wok hay.”]
The place is the Mandarin Garden at 1400 Niagara Falls Blvd. near the Boulevard Mall in the Town of Tonawanda.
You walk in these doors and leave Western New York behind, transported to a land where attention to exquisite manners, ambience, Feng Shiue, carefully chosen music, pleasing aromas, colors, lighting, and the culinary art is expertly combined.
At Mandarin Garden, attention is given to the finest points of preparation – carefully ground spices, the choicest selection of tender meats, beyond-fresh fish and vegetables that seem to come out of a green market.
Whether it is crispy chicken, luxurious shrimp, or twice cooked pork, whether it is comfort food (think General Tso’s chicken and orange beef), or distinctly Chinese fiery Sichuan and or Hunan moo shoo pork, a lot of credit goes to Chef Zhi Liang Guang.
Guang was executive chef for the famous Lee’s Restaurant in New York City prior to coming to Western New York where Mandarin Garden owner Chao Yue Lee procured his services.
At Mandarin Garden, prices are deliciously low. Combo lunches run from 5.95. Full dinners are great deals too: Chicken with Broccoli 8.50; Shrimp with Mixed Vegetable 11.95; Hunan Beef 9.50; Mixed Vegetable with Bean Curd 8.00; Orange Chicken 12.00.
All come with a choice of white or fried rice – or brown rice too.
Mandarin Garden is casual and elegant at the same time. It offers modern Chinese as well as traditional dishes prepared as they would be if you were dining in China tonight.
四川回锅肉 Double Cooked Pork 7.95;
铁板牛仔骨 Pepper Short Rib in Hot Plate 15.95;
糖醋鱼片 Sweet and Sour Sliced Fish 11.00;
椰子虾豆 Coconut Shrimp 13.95;
Stir-fried Spicy Clam 11.95
Mandarin Garden is a place for business meetings, or special date, for children and their parents and grandparents – for family is something highly honored in Chinese culture.
Mostly what sets it apart is the food. At Mandarin Garden they take time to assemble the finest ingredients and time to prepare it.
“It is all about the cooking time and temperature, “ owner Chao Yeu Lee said. “A lot of Asian dishes are served at a certain temperature. Temperature is very important to bring the flavor out. The minute we have it ready we bring it out and that’s how you experience a meal prepared as it should be in Chinese tradition.”
Another thing that sets Mandarin Garden apart is its extensive menu. Mandarin Garden offers Thai, Vietnamese and authentic cuisine from all parts of China.
Most local restaurants serve mainly Americanized dishes such as sesame chicken, pepper steak, and General Tso’s chicken [which Mandarin Garden also serves fresh and tasty] Mandarin Garden also has stir fry pea shoots, Sichuan style beef, Chong Qing chicken, braised pork, bitter melon with eggs or shredded pork with garlic sauce.
In addition, sauces are made specially by Chef Guang: Brown sauce, black bean, Sichuan, Hunan, white sauce. On some meals Guang makes the sauce as he cooks the meal capturing authentic juices further flavoring the dish.
The Mandarin Garden also has a great selection of noodle entrees – PHO, Pad Thai, mei fun, udon, chow fun – soups, vegetable plates, and specialties like fresh spring roll, fried calamari & crab meat Rangoon.
The Mandarin Garden is a 72 seat casual-dining restaurant focusing on modern and authentic Asian cuisines. The menu demands repeat visits. Hours of Operation 7 days a week 11 to 10 Sunday through Thursday, 11-11 Friday and Saturday.