After our latest successful feast at New Mandarin, we were fans, so decided to plan another trip back to try their dim sum, including new menu items. The following are dishes recommended by the head Chef, plus a few others the group wanted. Most of which were either completely new to me or spin-offs on the classics, as the restaurant is trying to make a name for themselves.
Deep fried fish curd tossed with salad dressing. This was a like a potato salad but with fish, all dressed in a sweet mayo-wasabi-like sauce. An interesting dish that you have for the chewy, spongy, and squishy texture of the puffed fish balls. Served in a beautiful basket, unfortunately obscured by the porcelain dishware.
Deep fried pork jowl tossed with citrus and honey. The glaze on this was so thick that it looked like cake. The extra crystallized sugars made the edges of the pork crispier with a nice snap to bite down on.
The Spanish style, squid ink fried rice was a nice base. It had a good assembly of diced textures and crispy rice. Tasty enough on its own, but best as a platform for everything else.
Seasonal vegetable with fish curd in soup. Like the fish curd above with the starchy chew soften by a gravy-like broth; but accompanied by some crispy greens. An easy way to get some vegetables into your meal.
Clam with fish curd and bitter melon in Tom Yum soup. Plenty of small clams to sort through. Tasty in the broth, but I didn’t really get much lemongrass or sour tang indicative of tom yum. Just don’t be caught off guard by the bitter melon slices.
Steamed special hot and sour pork soup dumpling. This appears to be a rift off the ones made popular at Mott32. Same orange hue same individual bamboo cradle, but this at a fraction of the cost, and sadly, taste as well. Although I still prefer these at New Mandarin because the cost to value ratio aligns better.
The Quail eggs shao mai was a spin on a classic and you either like the slight variation (like a remix of your favourite song), or don’t because it is no longer what you expected. This shao mai wrapper had a different texture to it, silken. The pork meat felt solid wrapped around the whole quail egg, Scottish egg style. Although the taste didn’t match the flourish of this. The dumpling was bland, and I found myself reaching for the chilli as a result.
The Beef tendon with teriyaki sauce was as expected: tender gelatinous segments in a savoury thick gravy, that jiggled its way down. What was new were the fries nestled at the bottom of the plate, to help soak up the extra gristle. Although probably not for eating as I found them mushy and sandy.
The Steamed prawn dumplings were made standard and tasty.
The Steamed oatmeal egg yolk buns were another new variation on a popular dim sum menu item. Although I didn’t get any oatmeal flavouring or anything outside the norm from the standard steamed dough. It was more breading than filling, and the yolk was not runny. Not my favourite rendition.
The Wasabi scallops and shrimp dumplings were a creative take. I found it slightly bitter from the use of wasabi, I just wanted a sweet brown sauce to help balance it out.
The Steamed chicken feet in special sauce were saucy and tender, another one that delivered on expectations with no complaints.
I liked the lush and juicy finish of the Bean curd roll with prawns and pork. Plenty tasty with a great slip and slide texture to chewy through.
The Abalone pastry is absolutely the crown jewel to this. It sits atop flaky buttery pastry with a saucy mushroom and ground chicken filling. This is the one order to impress your guests with, although it is on the pricier side.
By comparison, the Deep-fried shrimp spring rolls with garlic was lack lustre. They looked like the basic spring rolls you get from any fast-food sushi joint, and didn’t have anything distinct to them. They did not align with the glitz and glamour of New Mandarin and everything else we have had thus far.
Deep fried scallops and taro in a Portuguese sauce. Crispy on the outside, saucy on the inside. I find the traditional version of these stuffed with taro paste a little much, so this was a nice amendment.
I liked the rice rolls, each with the same smooth wrapper and your choice of filling. And they gave us plenty of sauce, for those who like it downing in light soy, like I do. The Shrimp and chive rice roll is the most popular.
However, I preferred and am a fan of the Pork liver rice roll, provided that the liver is cooked slow and served tender as it was at New Mandarin.
For a sweeter rice roll option look to the Pork floss rice roll. A deep-fried Chinese doughnut wrapped with the thin layer of soft dough, topped with the meaty equivalent of cotton candy: fluffy and furry with a sweet after taste. Pre-cut, you dip each segment into a sweet hoisin sauce, or runny peanut butter dip; and/or even better: both.
Transitioning to the dessert side of dim sum we went for the Durian glutinous rice balls. I am a fan of all things sticky and chewy and durian, so this was an easy win for me. Soft and subtle on the outside and moderately pungent on the inside. The texture of the mochi and durian flowed well together.
But the dessert to get from New Mandarin, and only available through them (as far as we all knew) is the Durian and sago baked pudding. It is like the crumbly sweet coating of a pineapple bun, made into a pie crust; that is then filled with a mix of durian fruit and chewy sago for a texture and taste sensation like no other. If you are a fan of any of the above-mentioned ingredients, this is the one for you. Just be sure to order it 24 hours in advance or be disappointed when you try to at your table.
And for the ones that don’t like durian, they can have the classic Baked egg custard tart for dessert.
In conclusion, New Mandarin is a great option for dim sum and dinner. For the former they are serving both tried and true favourites, plus a mix of dishes they have made all their own. Worth visiting for something comfortingly different.
New Mandarin Seafood Restaurant
4650 Gladstone St, Vancouver, BC V5N 2T6