For awhile now, Ferrari328 has been CH posting some serious lunch hounding in the area north of boston.. He briefly mentioned Mandarin Reading in a recent post and today we went to try it, just off 128 and across from REI (about 10 min. from the 93/128 intersection.)
What a huge surprise. The lunch buffet is 11-2 wkdays for $12 and they are friendly and accomodating with late visitors. We arrived at 1:30 and none of the items were sold out and none had been suffering too long under heat lamps. They all tasted fresh and crunchy, not too sweet or salty, and no MSG that I could discern. Chefs come from Fuju and Hong Kong.
Tempura- really good and fresh and crispy. Not a proper light/shattering panko crust but still excallent,but still- fried nicely, and crisp. Many different vegetables incl. kabocha squash ; v good tempura dipping sauce
Crab Rangoon- excellent flavor, good amount of filling; fry oil clean
Peking Ravioli - larger than other commercial ones w/ a lot more filling of flavorful
march chopped pork; seemed house made to me. Steamed and fried, w/ good brown crust.
Pork and Shrimp Shumai- excellent filling
Section of 8 or so different dipping sauces including a 'ginger sauce' which seemed to be soy, vinegar, ginger (excellent w/ the ravs.)
Beef with Leeks- good quality tender beef, well balanced flavors
General Gau's- not cloyingly sweet
Baby Bok Choy- so tender and crisp
lo mein -good flavor but overcooked
hot and sour soup- major yeccch
teriyaki chicken skewers- tough/dry, sweet
many diff maki- very pretty and varied, but not much flavor ,and rice not right at all
-there were probably 4 apps and 6-8 entrees that I did not have.
- I would never have tried the ice cream because I am such an ice cream snob (Toscanini's , Mixx, JPLicks and Haagen dasz(sp) for me)but it was brought to us- coconut, and chocolate -and I am really curious what brand it is because it was very good,the choc, esp, because it had a deep flavor and wasn't too sweet.
The octagonal room was very attractive and colorful and light filled. Plenty of helpful staff around.
I'm curious what CHs think about buffet tips- 20% of $24 (2 of us)just seemed too little.
Anyway, after the pretty dreadful dreck last week at Tulip jn Stoneham, Mandarin was 1,000 times better and we plan to return often. We overheard another couple tell the waitress that they heard about it on TV Diner. Btw, there are 3 other suburban Mandarin locations and they also own Bamboo, w/ 3 locations.