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Restaurants & Bars 13

Mandarin Malden

gimlis1mum | Jan 6, 2014 05:59 PM

I tried out this new restaurant in Malden Center for lunch today. They opened a month or two ago, in the space that used to be Abiata Cafe (sniff, sniff - I really miss that place).

They don't seem to have an online menu or website; I will attempt to attach pics of the takeout menu. I'm not familiar with Taiwanese food so I did a quick Chowhound search to see what people liked at other restaurants....people liked a lot of things! We decided to just wing it and try out a couple of items.

The menu is extensive, lots of organ meats on there. (As an aside, I'd always wondered what one would do with the packages of frozen duck tongue that I'd see at Super 88. Now I know!).

My favorite thing was probably the Taiwanese meat ball, which semmed more like a dumpling: a thick dough made from glutinous rice powder, filled with a bit of diced pork, mushrooms, and a few veggies, served in a pool of thick sauce that was slightly sweet, slightly tomato-y and VERY faintly spicy. kind of like a steamed bao, if the bao was made with glutinous rice flour and boiled instead of steamed. I'm not making it sound good, am I? :-) But the thick, chewy dough was really good with the filling and sauce, albeit challenging to eat. We were sharing (didn't realize it was one per order) otherwise I would have held the bowl to my lips and shoved it towards my mouth with my chopsticks. When we ordered it we were told it would take about 20 min to prepare, which was fine with us, we had plenty to eat while we waited.

We also really liked the minced pork over dry noodles, which felt like a bargain at $5.75. Noodles were really nice and chewy, lots of minced pork and tofu in the topping.

I enjoyed the eggplant with basil leaves, which was not at all spicy despite the chili pepper next to it on the menu. Next time I'll make sure to say we want spicy. It had a little too much oil for me, but a nice flavor with a little sugar/caramel and a hint of five spice (I think).

Sanbei (3 cups) chicken was good too but it was my first time trying it so i don't know how it would compare to other versions around. I liked the flavor but am not a big fan of gnawing on bones so it's probably not the dish for me (the chicken was cut into bite-sized pieces so you could pop them in your mouth, chew away, then discard the bony bits).

The staff and owner were super nice. It was fairly busy in there, about half full at lunchtime, mostly Asian customers.

What should I try on my next visit? And if anyone else goes, how does it compare to other places? Is this good Taiwanese food?

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