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A taste of China

Posted March 05, 2014 in Advice Column, Ames
Sweet and sour pork with an egg roll at The Mandarin.

Sweet and sour pork with an egg roll at The Mandarin.

My husband and I have both dined at The Mandarin several times before. In fact, he’s been going to the long-time Ames establishment since high school. But for some reason, it had been years since we were there last, and we were eager to see if it was as good as we remembered.

Mandarin is located on Lincoln Way, a welcome respite from the sea of chain restaurants and fast food options that surround it. We decided a Saturday lunch was a perfect time to give it another try. We asked another couple, who could easily be described as Ames restaurant aficionados, to join us. It was a cold, snowy afternoon, and the hot tea served immediately upon sitting down was a welcome sight.

The menu was full of typical Chinese dishes like garlic chicken, mongolian beef, lo mein and shrimp with snow peas. For lunch, each meal was served with an egg roll, rice, hot tea and soup. Most dishes were reasonably priced at $6.95. We opted to start off with some appetizers, including the potstickers and crab rangoon. They were both quite tasty. The potstickers were served with a delicious dipping sauce, and the crab rangoon were perfectly crunchy outside and creamy inside.

Next came the soup of the day, which was hot and sour. It was more sour than hot, which was just fine with me. One person in our group was only a little bit disappointed that we couldn’t get the sizzling rice soup for lunch, as it’s a favorite of hers. She promised she’d be back soon for dinner though to enjoy it.

For our entrees, we tried the broccoli beef, kung pao chicken and sweet and sour pork. All of us gave our dishes two thumbs up. The egg rolls were also crispy and flavorful, and the portions were perfect for lunch.

When I told a friend who grew up in Ames that I was visiting The Mandarin, she told me I would now rate every other Chinese restaurant against it. I think she may have been right.

The Mandarin
415 Lincoln Way
Phone: 515-233-5300
Hours: Mon. – Thurs.
Lunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.,
Dinner: 5  – 9 p.m.
Fri. – Sat. Lunch: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Dinner: 5  – 9:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

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