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University District, Northeast Seattle

Mandarin Cafe

Chinese Restaurants, Family Style Restaurants, Asian Restaurants, Restaurants
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Cuisines: Asian, Family Style, Chinese

Price Range : Below Average


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Provided by Citysearch - 
Hidden away on the Ave this haven of

Hidden away on the Ave this haven of hand shaven noodles and hand made dumplings offers a comforting presence to the students at UW.



Provided by Citysearch - 
Great Authentic Chinese

We just moved to Seattle and particularly enjoy Chinese food. Not talking about American-Chinese here, we want to eat what the cook eats (assuming the cook is Asian).

Based on reviews, we decided to try Mandarin Chef. It is owned by a husband and wife. He?s the cook and she (her name is Lang) is the server. They?re from Shanghai. This place is pretty small, plain and clean. We got there at 7:00 on a rainy Wednesday night and were the only customers. Not a good sign, but we decided to stay.

Lang suggested homemade pork dumplings, house special chow mien with homemade noodles, and green beans with chicken. We added a few beers and placed the order.

The generous portion of dumplings came first and were delicious. They were made of fresh dough wrapped around ground gently-spiced meat and had been either steamed or boiled. A soy-based sauce with vinegar and a touch of sugar was served for dipping.

Next came fresh chow mien. The noodles were very delicate ? flat and about 1/8? wide, stir-fried with bay shrimp, small pieces of pork and chicken, water chestnuts and a few assorted veggies. The seasoning was nicely calm and perfect; anything more heavy or oily would have overwhelmed the noodles. Eating this dish transported me back to a visit to China in 1977 where, throughout Shanghai, you could see fresh noodles or laundry hanging out to dry on balconies throughout the city - what a treat!

Last came the green beans (Chinese long beans). First the beans had been blistered, then stir-fried with sauce and bits of chicken. The beans were bathed in a light coating of a thick tomato-based sauce finished with a touch of sweet and spicy. The preparation was perfect with a nice traditional sauce.

With the three dishes, steamed rice and three beers, two people ate for $40 (without tip). We will definitely go back, adding this to our favorites list. The only negative might be that Lang was chatty which might put some people off - we found her charming and amusing.



Provided by Citysearch - 
Love the Mandarin Chef!

Love that the food is always as good as the last time. Love that the same couple have been running it for years! Love that they always remember you even if it's been awhile since your last visit. Love the dumplings!



Provided by Citysearch - 

Today was my first visit here, for lunch. It's basically a husband and wife operation in a storefront with no ambiance at all. The kind of place you go looking mainly for a good deal. Instead of ordering one of the lunch combos, which looked very reasonable, we ordered off the main part of the menu. Happy Family and General Tsao's Chicken, with a half order of bbq pork as appetizer . The pork was kind of tough, and there couldn't have been more than maybe 10 or 12 rather small pieces for the $3.50 price. I think I'd skip that next time, for what it was worth in quality. .
The two main dishes were very good in terms of quality and flavor, but in the $8-10 range we were very disappointed in the quantity. I know these places often don't give you same quantity at lunch as you get for dinner, but we weren't paying lunch prices. With just one soft drink and the tip, this became a $30+ affair, with NO leftovers, and I mean we didn't exactly pig out. Maybe our ordering strategy just wasn't very smart, but as it was, even though the main food dishes were very tasty, this was not a good value proposition for me.

However, the quality of the food was intriguing enough that I'd like to give it another try. It would probably be best to try dinner to see if that quantity problem disappears, but unless I was a UW student or a local, I probably wouldn't want to be there at night for dinner, so that'll probably never happen..



Provided by Citysearch - 
Wahoo! Great Chinese food in the neighborhood!

After reading reviews here, my family patronized this restaurant and were not disappointed. The service was excellent, the food was DELICIOUS, and the meal was surprisingly inexpensive. The dumplings and homemade chow mein noodles were particularly memorable. We all agreed that the chow mein was better than Judy Fu's. Give this place a try!



Provided by Citysearch - 

Mandarin Chef is a great restaurant..and the staff is even better! I always got excellent service. Their food isn't too shabby either. I especially like their general tso's and their tofu curry is delicious. I was surprised at how cheap their food was for the big portions you get. Recommend!



Provided by Citysearch - 
Sizzling rice soup = love!

If you want great Chinese food that is cheap yet better than the gross concotions of some of the Ave's other restaurants, come here! My childhood favorite at my old favorite Chinese restaurant was sizzling rice soup... and imagine my pure joy when I learned that Mandarin Chef makes FANTASTIC sizzling rice soup. Every dish I have tried has been flavorful, and I like that they offer brown rice as an option. Service is always quick and the lady is so sweet! You just want to hug her :)



Provided by Citysearch - 
I dream about the dumplings, plenty of choices for vegetarians and vegans

This restaurant has a little seceret and it's called ""The Chefs Specialities"". Order from that section and you won't be sad. Better yet, ask Lang (the woman who will most likey take your order) for a recommendation. She won't dissapoint you and neither will her husband/chef. To appease the usual American customer they also have dishes like the ubiquitous sweet and sour chicken and for what it is, it's not bad. But don't waste your time on these, stick to the handmade noodles and specials of the day. You can eat for two days on what they bring you. Best place for a delicious dinner in a relaxed (although not romantic) setting before or after going to a movie in the U-district. And the dumplings...even meat-lovers should try the veggie dumplings. I recommend stirring a little chili paste into the dumpling sauce, they can provide this for you. They also have brown rice for the health concious or for those who want to justify the spicey crispy eggplant.



Provided by Citysearch - 
Great lunch spot for Chinese food lovers

Mandarin Chef has a huge menu, low prices, and the server was very accomodating. This is a great restaurant when you want a liesurely lunch of flavorful food. If you live in the University District and are sick of China First and New China Express, definitely head a few blocks up the Ave to Mandarin Chef. Try the green onion pancake, house noodles, or homemade dumplings. Reminiscent of Judy Fu's in the Maple Leaf district, but less expensive.



Provided by Citysearch - 
ambiance wasn't the best, but food was good.

this isn't the place for a romantic night out, but the homemade dumplings and noodles were quite tasty. we also ordered the tea duck -- a nice flavorful, smokey taste. excellent food overall, and the prices are very reasonable. fairly large portions.

when it gets busy, service seems to bog down a bit. but we were overall very happy with our experience.



Provided by Citysearch - 
User review by crankyuser

Good and cheap hole-in-the-wall that reminds me of the hidden gems in the NYC's Chinatown. Chinese food in Seattle never seems authentic to me, but this was nonetheless tasty.



Provided by Citysearch - 
Boiled Dumpling Feast!

This little spot on the north end of University Way isnt especially eye-catching, but some of the food is absolutely delicious.
Hot & sour soup, boiled pork dumplings (jiao zhi) w/ a nicely balanced sauce, and the elusive special of green beans sauteed in house sauce are must-haves. The Szechwan eggplant is also oh-so-tasty in its sweet-sour-spicy sauce, but the eggplant is deep-fried, so I personally cant justify eating this dish very often. A lot of the dishes are pretty salty, too. Avoid this by sticking to dumpling/noodle-soup dishes, which are their specialties anyway.
Ive always had the same host/server, and shes nice in her own semi-crotchety-older-Chinese-woman kind of way. She warms up a lot if youre a repeat customer, usually remembering my name and even the dishes I like. =)
Entrees can be pricey here, but I usually get away with $25 (w/ tax & tip) for two people.



Provided by Citysearch - 

My husband and I along with our two kids always look forward to eating at the Mandarin Chef. We get take-out at least once a week! The kids love the dumplings, homemade noodles and potstickers. Our favorite is the crispy eggplant. Delicious, quality food at a great value and attentive, friendly service. Solid consistency we don't find in other places.



Provided by Citysearch - 
Great food, good price!

This restaurant is one of the best chinese restaurants I have ever eaten at. The Mongolian beef was excellent, the service was quick, and the check was very reasonable. A++!



Provided by Citysearch - 

My friends and I love this place. We go in and order a few dishes and just eat buffet style. You get huge portions and so far I haven't tried anything that wasn't absolutely delicious.



Provided by Citysearch - 
Great Food, Great Service

If your looking for some authentic home style Chinese cusine try Mandarin Chef. I found Mandarin Chef to be a wonderful discovery. Here are some things that I like about Mandarin Chef

1.They have a great menu
2.The food is excellent
3.The prices are reasonable.
4.And the staff is very friendly.



Provided by Citysearch - 
I want to try them all!

I wonder how long it's going to take me to eat my way through the impressive menu? Well, I'd better get busy. Life is short, and this food is wonderful!

We had the crispy long beans in black bean sauce with beef--the special of the day. Boy, is was good.

The curry tofu and chicken with cranberries were both good, too.

Everyone else has mentioned the dumplings. They lived up to the recommendation.

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