Mandarin Taste coalesces the cuisines of the Far East into one sumptuous whole with hot pot, dumplings, seafood and spicy and flavorful Szechwan food options.
Have you ever tried a Chinese hot pot? It’s perfect for a long lunch or a leisurely dinner with family or friends, especially on a cold winter day in Oklahoma. And Mandarin Taste may be the only place in Tulsa to enjoy this traditional meal. Tucked away at the corner of 61st and Sheridan, this authentic Chinese restaurant is perfect for people hungry for genuine Chinese cuisine, whether they lived in China and miss the genuine flavors or are just ready to try something new.
Mandarin Taste’s manager, who prefers to go just by Sally, says, “I came to the states as an international student. I didn’t know how to cook when I got here, but I wanted food like from home in Beijing,” she says. “So, I had to call my mom and ask her how to cook.”
Sally realized there were a lot of people looking for real, traditional Chinese cooking.
“It’s a problem for a lot of people, especially Chinese people,” she says. “A lot of my American customers were looking for this kind of food. They’d been to China, or moved here from Los Angeles or New York City. I wanted to do this for that group of people who knew this kind of food. Or for my American customers who want to try something new, this is the place for them to give it a try.”
To the best of Sally’s knowledge, Mandarin Taste is the only restaurant in the Tulsa area to offer hot pot. “It’s very popular in Asia — China, Korea, Japan, other parts of south Asia. The concept is like a fondue,” she says. “The pot is full of hot broth made by cooking pork and chicken for over three hours to create rich flavor. There’s also a tomato broth and a spicy Szechwan broth. The pot is divided so diners can try more than one flavor. Some customers like the spicy broth, but some prefer the original.”
If you’re not familiar with hot pot, Sally is ready to help. “Sometimes customers come in and say this is their first time, so I will show them how. Some want to dump all the meat in to cook at once, but this is not best,” she says. “They should hold a slice of meat in their chopsticks and dip two to three times in the hot broth. The meat is cut very thin so it cooks quickly. Then, some like to use a dipping sauce, but if they used the spicy broth, often it doesn’t need a sauce. You can try the different sauces to see if they’re needed.”
When you order, you choose the type of broth for your hot pot, and the items to cook in the pot. Meat choices include lamb, beef and pork. Adventurous diners can try beef tripe, pig kidney or even pig brain. Seafood options include scallop, fish and shrimp. Along with your proteins, you can add vegetables like sweet potato, bamboo heart, and seaweed. Tofu is an option, along with different types of mushrooms and noodles. There are also combo platters to make it easier for a couple to enjoy a selection of different items.
“Hot pot is really good for friends or families,” she says. “The more people the better. Having more people lets you have more things to try.”
Each pot can feed six to seven people, so don’t be shy; invite a friend or two. “We’re always busy over the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she says. “Families come in and enjoy time together. You cook it yourself, at your table. You participate, chatting, and enjoy the time together.”
In addition to hot pot, Mandarin Taste serves spicy and flavorful Szechwan food.
“Men or boys especially like the pork belly with jalapeno. We have 100 percent satisfaction with that dish,” Sally says.
The Kung Pao Chicken is another popular choice. “It’s very traditional, not like what you’d get at a Chinese buffet. It’s very popular with Chinese people,” she says.
The cilantro shredded beef is the most popular beef dish. Sally suggests the garlic bok choy and the spicy dry green bean stir-fry off the vegetarian menu.
Mandarin Taste also features a variety of different types of traditional dumplings. There are steamed buns, like the flavor-filled pork and onion. The popular pan-fried bun with pork adds a nice sear to the bun. The Chinese chive, egg and ground pork pie is like a little round pancake, stuffed with savory ingredients and lightly browned.
Also on the extensive menu is a selection of regular dumplings, noodle dishes, fried rice and seafood choices.
Children get free ice cream with their meals, and many adults enjoy the steamed or fried bread with condensed milk as a treat.
Sally’s personal favorite dishes? “I love the Jade fish.” It’s a beautiful seafood dish served in a bowl with Szechwan peppercorn and fresh green chili pepper. She also loves the Beijing meat pie. It’s like a small-sized pizza with ground pork and onion. There are three layers of meat and dough.
Mandarin Taste is a great choice for vegetarian diners or those who need to avoid gluten. Many menu items are gluten-free.
6125 S. Sheridan | Tulsa
Monday-Tuesday: 5-9 p.m.
Wednesday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
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