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Published: January 7th 2012
Eggplant and Beef & Potatoes
The Eggplant is in the foreground and the beef & potatoes in the background.
This past Thursday, ten friends and one bouncy baby met at our favourite gathering place, the Mandarin Palace Restaurant on Forest Hill Road. It is perhaps Fredericton's best kept dining secret but I think the time has come for these lips to spill the beans. So here it is, the top ten reasons I ADORE the Mandarin Palace: 10. Qie Zi (Eggplant).
One of our favourites in China was eggplant done in any manor of ways. Hong Shao Qie Zi (in a red sauce) or Yu Xiang Qie Zi (which is in a thick, sweet and slightly spicy sauce) are both mouth watering. Nope, you won't find it on the menu, you have to ask. They don't always have eggplant on hand, so if I know I'm coming in advance, I pre-order it. Oh, and I just say eggplant and let the chef do as he will. Haven't had it the same way twice, and to me, that's just fun. 9. The Chef
. Mandarin Palace has had a few good ones over the years, but the newest and current man gracing the kitchen is an absolute steal! A professional chef in China, and Germany and now to Fredericton. He
A social event
Here is just part of our group on Thursday night, enjoying the tasty treats.
told us, if we had it in China, he can cook it. We are intending to take him up on this dare... maybe we can get some tasty Xinjiang Flavour, from the Muslim Northwest with spicy lamb bbq. Mmmmmmm. His wife and daughter are back home in China while he works to get them here. In the meantime, he adores holding my own baby boy, and my boy seems to adore him. The ultimate test! 8. Northern Chinese Food!
Tianjin (where we lived) was in the North of China which has a very different style (and ingredient list) than the Chinese fair we usually get in Canada which is more based on Cantonese cuisine. In the North, potato is a common ingredient as is beef and lamb. The current chef is from Xi'an (home of the Terracotta Army). It is so nice to be able to get these authentic dishes. 7. Beef and Potatoes.
Speaking of which, this is on the Chinese Menu. We used to get this a lot in Tianjin. Now in China, this beef stew (essentially) comes in a little pot with a burner underneath. In China, it is still boiling and the delicious
Best way to start the meal. Hunan dumplings are boiled and in a red sweet sauce. Also regular potstickers with a chili sauce in the background.
peppery sauce can be a little dangerous. BUT at the Mandarin Palace it comes out in a nice bowl, safe and ready to eat. The beef is so tender is melts in your mouth. Anybody would like this dish. 6. The Chinese Menu.
Although I can't read it, I kind of love that there is a Chinese Menu with unknown tasty dishes not on the regular menu. It is like a tease to me! We keep asking for recommendations from the Chinese Menu, it is always good... but not sure I'll be able to order it again. It's mysterious, daunting and makes me laugh. I love it, despite the fact I can't read it. 5. It can be an evening out
. I HATE being rushed through a good meal. When our group gets together at the Mandarin Palace we usally meet for 7pm and leave at 10pm. The dishes come out slowly, one or two at a time, and we graze and enjoy the company of our friends. I don't know any other place in Fredericton where we would be made to feel so comfortable and at home. And I love sharing food with my friends, rather
Craig, Tina and Duncan
Duncan's first visit to the MP
than everyone getting their own heap on a plate, then heads down and twenty minutes later everyone is done. A bite here, a bite there, discussion of the food and anything else we want. Eating at the MP is a social event. 4. Suan La Tudou Si. (Hot and Sour Potato).
Ok, this was comfort food to us in China. I always describe it as the real "Hickory Sticks". Thinly sliced potatoes, with peppers, littly fried so that the potatoes are just tender. Haven't brought a friend yet, who didn't adore it. 3. Did I mention they love my baby?
If you come out to MP to dine with my family, hope you didn't intend on holding Duncan very long, because the staff love my baby. He is quickly whisked off and entertained by the staff. Even the giant Xi'an chef can be spotted carrying him around, rattling toys for his amusement. That leaves my husband and I with two hands ready to devour the tasty treats before us. It is just so comfortable and warm, and Duncan has adopted the staff as his extended family. 2. Spicy Fish.
OK... this is the one for
those of you who like spicy and want something to blow your gastronomical minds. This spicy soup full of sprouts and other vegetables is brought to a boil and then just before serving, beautiful white fish is dropped into the soup and it cooks the fish so that it melts in your mouth. I should mention that the top layer of soup is chili peppers, so this is only for those who can handle the spice. I literally dream about spicy fish. 1. Tina Tu.
The hostess/owner of the Mandarin Palace is the sweetest, kindest and most accommodating restauranteur I have known. In China, the restaurants we returned to regularly, kind of adopted us into their family. That same warmth has been extended to us here in Fredericton by Ms. Tu. When she knows we are coming, she will wear a traditional dress from different regions of China. She always comes to explain and describe the dishes. She brings the chef to the table, to introduce him to the guests. She takes pride in preparing excellent, authentic food and goes out of the way to accommodate special requests. With a week's notice, she will even prepare a Thai feast! And the first time we brought our newborn with us this summer, she even had a gift for the family. MP won the distinction of Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in Canada last year, and more than anything else, the reason was Tina.
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