Jessica Dodds photos
Long before she told me so over my fortune cookie, I knew that the kind woman who had just provided such welcoming, wonderful service during lunch at Mandarin Palace was none other than owner Lucy Yang — she was simply too passionate, thorough and knowledgeable about the place to be just any employee. And the fare served at this serene, comfortable 40-year-old gem is nearly every bit as impressive.
Highly recommended as starters are the steamed dumplings and the egg-drop soup. The former offers a dozen juicy pork morsels, all tucked into silky wrappers and bathed in a tangy, soy-based sauce. The latter, meanwhile, hits the spot with piping-hot, richly flavored broth and delicate strands of its signature ingredient.
Also terrific are the shrimp and scallops in garlic sauce. A mound of fluffy rice shares the plate with abundant, tender baby shrimp, delicate sea-scallop slivers and piquant garlic. Adding color and crunch is a mélange of fresh, satisfying veggies. If there had been more of the advertised heat, this dish would have been truly dynamite.
With only (seemingly out-of-place) cheesecake available for dessert, the aforementioned fortune cookie served as the finale. Its message was about long life and prosperity, but what it should have said is, "You'll return — and bring friends — to savor more of the terrific service, soothing atmosphere and skillfully prepared food offered here."