MANDARETTE CHINESE CAFÉ
A LOCAL FAVE HAS DELIGHTED FOR DECADES
In a food scene where restaurant hot spots tend to sizzle and then quickly fizzle, and dining destinations come and go with little to no fanfare, it is a very impressive feat when a restaurant can stand the test of time. Mandarette Chinese Café has been serving traditional Chinese cuisine with a modern twist in the West Hollywood area for 35 years. Now that’s impressive!
The restaurant has stood like a beacon on Beverly Boulevard down the street from the Beverly Center. In fact, Mandarette Chinese Café opened just two years after the Beverly Center did. And it has been delighting guests with its classic Chinese cuisine ever since. While the restaurant does serve standard favorites, it is beloved for its signature Crispy Strawberry Shrimp.
Owner Ken Yang has been a mainstay in the Beverly Grove neighborhood for more than three decades.
“My customers know exactly what they will be getting and they have been coming back for more for the last thirty-five years,” Yang says. “They are locals, people driving by, walking by, and tourists all hearing the praises about the great Chinese delicacies that Mandarette Chinese Café claims its own.”
The family’s culinary roots can be traced back to a little town just north of Taipei, where Yang’s father started his traditional training in the kitchen at the young age of 13. After completing the traditional culinary training from his master, he worked at various establishments in Taipei. By the age of 25, he was discovered by a Japanese Chinese restaurant owner who invited him to go to Japan where he worked as head chef.
When Phillip Chiang first opened Mandarette Chinese Cafe in September 1984, he was the head chef and partner at the Mandarin in Beverly Hills. He helped create all the wonderful dishes at the Mandarette Chinese Cafe. The restaurant was later sold to the Yang family in early 1990. Over the last 35 years, Mandarette Chinese Café has remained a local favorite. Their mission has always been to provide fresh ingredients to their customers without overpowering with sauces. They want you to taste the goodness in each bite.
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with a tried and true starter favorite, the steamed Mandarette pork pot stickers. This is a very tasty dish to share.
Another classic and favorite is the Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Ginger. It’s an oversized dish that’s perfect to share, otherwise as an entrée, you’ll probably have leftovers.
But the restaurant’s signature dish, and most favorite, is the Crispy Strawberry Shrimp, a quick-fried shrimp served with strawberries in a sweet and spicy sauce. It may sound odd but it really works and it has delighted guests for decades.
To celebrate its 35th anniversary, Mandarette Chinese Café added four new dishes to its menu. And while they were special additions, do look out for them if you ever see them as menu specials.
The Three Cup with chicken, beef or squid is a classic Taiwanese dish made from three ingredients; sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. The chicken, beef or squid is cooked in the sauce until tender before the sauce is reduced to a glaze that coats the meat. I highly recommend the chicken.
Another special dish to order whenever it’s available is the Spicy Garlic Fillet of Sole. It’s so full of flavor and serves as a great non-meat option. This Sichuan poached fish fillet is cooked with Sichuan numbing pepper, chilly pod, vegetable oil, minced garlic and other spices. It offers a good combination of tender white meat fish, crispness of the bean sprouts, hot spicy flavor of chili pepper, and a touch of numbing sensation of Sichuan pepper. It excites all the senses in your taste buds.
Other special anniversary dishes include the Braised Beef Noodle Soup—symbolic Chinese comfort food—found throughout China and Taiwan, and the Aromatic Fiery Shrimps perfect for shrimp lovers.
Other Chinese food classics on the menu include Won Ton Soup; Kung Pao Shrimp; Lemon Chicken; and the Lobster Noodle where you'll find a lobster tail drenched in garlic sauce and served on a bed of egg noodles.
If you save room for dessert, the Chocolate Wontons are a must. And definitely order a side of ice cream to really make this a delicious and decadent dessert.
There are ample reasons why Mandarette Chinese Café has been a favorite for so long. Those tasty reasons can be found on its menu loaded with flavorful dishes and simply delight.
Mandarette Chinese Cafe is located at 8386 Beverly Blvd. Open daily Monday through Thursday from 11am to 10:30pm; Friday 11am to 11:30pm; Saturday noon to 11:30pm; and Sunday noon to 10pm. Call (323) 655-6115.
Story & Photography By: Jose Martinez