One doesn’t go to Mandarin Deli for the ambiance. One goes for the simple, comforting, food. Just be warned, the place is small and serves stinky tofu. If you’re unlucky, you might be stuck sitting next to a table that ordered a plate.
I had the mala (spicy) beef noodle soup. The broth was every bit as spicy as it looked. There wasn’t much numbness despite it being called mala in the broth, but there was definitely spiciness. It’s been a while since I had this dish, but the pieces of beef in here tasted a lot like corned beef. I don’t remember if this is normal or not. The noodles were satisfyingly chewy and the broth was flavorful. I just wish I wasn’t such a wuss so I could have finished the whole bowl, but by the time I was a quarter through it, I was already sweating bullets. This dish is not for the faint of tongue.
The BF had the dan dan mien which is cold noodles with a slightly spicy peanut sauce. Unfortunately, we forgot to ask them to make it vegetarian, so there was some ground meat in it. The observant lady working in the restaurant that day told us that next time to we should remind her to make it vegan so she can leave out the meat. She said she felt bad that the BF couldn’t finish it, which made me feel at home there. I always feel bad when I leave leftovers on the plate. It was something only someone who cared about their food would say.
We also ordered the stinky tofu which was pungent smelling, but not pungent tasting. I’m still looking for a place that has stinky tofu as flavorful as the ones I had in Shanghai, but I doubt I’ll be able to find it here in LA thanks to health regulations. Despite that, I still enjoyed the stinky tofu at Mandarin Deli. It was freshly fried, had a crispy exterior, and came with that deliciously thick and garlicky dipping sauce. I just wish the inside was more flavorful.
I wouldn’t call Mandarin Deli a destination spot, but it’s a good place to have a simple lunch at when you’re in the neighborhood and you’re craving Chinese food.
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728 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754