Went out to see Shrek Forever After and decided to check out Jason Sheehan's "Essential Dishes" in his write up today. His recommendation for Mandarin Chef's Jiao-zi was worth the adventure. We got their just before 9 and parked across the street in the University Height Center's parking lot. A sign on the fence next to the entrance said that the lot would close at 10 and thinking we had plenty of time proceeded to head across to the restaurant. More on that later.
As you can imagine the place was non-descript, in a long line of ethnic food shops catering to the University District neighborhood. As we stepped in and this is a Friday, not a soul in the whole place. We were greeted by someone coming out of the kitchen and had our choice of seats. Wondering if we might be in wrong choice, we pushed on with Jason's recommendation. Ordering the small plate of Jiao-zi (boiled dumplings), half vegetable and the other pork, we kept our fingers crossed. Adding the homemade noodle Chow Mein with Shrimp and the Mongolian Beef along with a bowl of steamed rice. As the dishes started coming out we were pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the tastes were, the vegetable Jiao-zi filling was bright and chewy with a subtle herbaceous finish. The pork was equally appealing with an earthy richness to its filling. The other dishes were good but not as memorable as the dumplings. As for the homemade noodles, they came in a very close second, having a nice chewy texture and savory sauce that made you beg for more.
I can't wait to go back and try some more of the Chef's specials and as for the parking, keep out of the lot, they locked it up early and let's say we had to make for an alternative exit plan.