Mandarin Kitchen is one of a handful of authentic Chinese restaurants in West LA. What are the hallmarks of an authentic Chinese restaurant? According to my mom:
- Chopsticks on the table
- The menu lists each dish also in Chinese characters
If #1 and #2 are not met, head to the nearest exit. Of course, if you don’t mind Americanized Chinese food, you can stay put and order overly sweet deep fried goodness (which I can also enjoy).
(Bonus points for if there are signs on the wall written in Chinese advertising specials of the day. One might say a “B” health rating is further indication of authenticity. Also, no Chinese Chicken salad offered on the menu).
Normally we get takeout since the atmosphere is a little lacking. Situated in a mini mall at the corner of Westwood Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd, Mandarin Kitchen is a hole-in-the-wall, with only about nine tables.
On this day, we had lunch at the restaurant, taking advantage of the daily lunch specials. When you eat there, you are rewarded by bigger portions and a cup of hot and sour soup (which isn’t available on to go orders).
The soup was more on the hot than on the sour side. Even my husband who loves spicy food, turned down my daughter’s bowl of soup.
We ordered spinach and tofu, which isn’t on the lunch specials but is on the menu. For some reason, it’s not on the takeout menu either. My daughter could eat the entire dish of tofu (but not the spinach – heaven forbid she eat any vegetables).
My husband and I got scallops in garlic sauce – a nice healthy portion full of scallops.
Our last dish was vegetable chow mein. I sometimes order the vegetable version in hopes that my daughter will eat some broccoli (the only green vegetable my daughter will eat). At lunch, rice is also included with the lunch specials.
The portions are so big that we always have some leftovers for another meal (at least for my daughter) so it’s a great deal. When the lunch is packed to go, the servings are smaller since the container also has an area that holds rice (which is great if you are eating out of the container). At dinner, the dishes are about the same size, no matter if you dine in or takeout. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck, eat lunch at Mandarin Kitchen, where you’ll get dinner-sized portions for less (and soup and rice included).
Location – 1822 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles 90025
Website – http://www.mandarinkitchenchinese.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegan/Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes