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eGullet Outing at Mandalay


Al_Dente
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Thanks to everybody who showed up last night. I had a great time, and some great food besides! :wub:

Thank YOU, Malawry!

It was great.

The fritters were great once you poured some of the dipping sauce over them.

The ginger salad is a spectacular dish. Easily the favorite of all the things that I have tried on their menu.

The bitter melon was actually quite good, not nearly as offputting as we had been led to believe. Kind of like grilled bell peppers injected with black pepper. Really well balanced by the pork and the hint of sweetness in the sauce.

The noodle dish was OK, but to me it was the weakest dish of the night as no real flavors stood out.

I'm philosphically opposed to tofu, but the dish with sour mustard, cilantro and onion was very vibrantly flavored and was a fan favorite.

I really enjoyed the batter on the catfish and found it quite well balanced with the tomato curry.

The shrimp in cocunut curry was a little too sweet and flabby to my taste, but well executed. Perhaps cutting it with a little light cocunut milk would help keep the milk from overwhelming the other ingredients.

While I know that with a large group we needed to order the dishes mild, I feel that they all benefit from a little touch of heat. Other than that, the thing that stands out to me is the great deal of care that goes into attempting to balance the flavors in each dish.

A very good cheap ethnic restaurant that I am glad is in my neighborhood. Would I make a special trip from the hinterlands (aka Virginia) to go here? Well, that's another question.

It was great to meet new people and see old friends.

Joe

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Thank you for organizing this, Malawry! I sat at the table with bilrus, al_dente and hjshorter's husband (I apologize for my horrible memory...I'm very bad with names!)

The food was fantastic! The fritters were light, which is suprising given their appearance. I loved the bitter melon dish. Um, I think I was the only one at the table who did! (Then again, as a child, I hated it. It's an accquired taste!) It was a great outing - my only complaint is that we couldn't get a big ol' table for everyone to sit around and chat. But regardless, a smashing success! I will definitely go again.

bilrus: did y'all get the Maria's cake?

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bilrus:  did y'all get the Maria's cake?

No - we had to deal with dropping off my monster truck at the shop. Hopefully we will get there later this week.

One of the things about the dishes that Malawry commented on that I wholeheartedly agreeed with was that the accompanying sauces were more integral to the taste of the dishes than most condiments, almost as if they were part of the dish, not just an add on. There were three different ones brought with different dishes. All were variations on a theme, varying degrees of heat, salt, sweet and sour.

My favorites were the ginger salad and the catfish (this was the one dish where I kept asking if anyone was going to want more of it so I could keep adding more to my plate). I wasn't a big fan of the dish with the squash or the noodle dish - not much flavor to those.

All in all, very good introduction to yet another style of cooking with which I was unfamiliar.

Bill Russell

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While I know that with a large group we needed to order the dishes mild, I feel that they all benefit from a little touch of heat.

I definitely agree, I'm used to getting everything "medium-spicy" here so I missed that zip last night. However the flavors were amazing as always! My favorite of the dishes I've not tried before was the tofu; the bitter-melon was the only thing I put in my mouth that I'd rather not have :wacko:

It was nice to meet folks & put faces with names, and a big thank-you to Malawry for her organizational prowess!

"What, after all, is more seductive than the prospect of sinning in libraries?"

Michael Dirda, An Open Book

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Ginger salad, fritters, noodles, curry shrimp and bitter melon were my favorite dishes. Funny, the food reminded me of Cantonese homestyle cooking, especially the chicken with the squash. My mom makes that one alot!

Judging by the reponses to the bitter melon dish, now y'all know why they asked if you were sure you wanted it. But it's good for you! =)

bilrus: Too bad that you couldn't get the Maria's cake! All that talk about it last night makes me want to get one myself!

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Judging by the responses to the bitter melon dish, now y'all know why they asked if you were sure you wanted it.  But it's good for you!  =)

Maybe is was because my table got the leftovers, but we didn't find the bitter melon that bitter. I have had arugula that was worse. The camera was ready to go to catch those 'I just tasted something really bitter' faces but there was no need.

I may be the dissenting opinion here, but I was not overly impressed. The food was much blander than I expected. Given the discussion about heat I was expecting at least a little spice. After all the rave reviews I had higher hopes. Thank goodness the company made up for the food :smile:

Edited by hillvalley (log)

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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I may be the dissenting opinion here, but I was not overly impressed.  The food was much blander than I expected.  Given the discussion about heat I was expecting at least a little spice.  After all the rave reviews I had higher hopes.  Thank goodness the company made up for the food  :smile:

I didn't think it was bland nessesarily, but some of the dishes were missing something. Shrimp in coconut sauce, I'm looking at you here (Probably the catfish, too. Not that I didn't like both dishes, now!). Probably all the aforementioned spices that the discussion did away with! :raz: I know...it depends on what the 'default' levels are and what adjustments were made. The bitter melon was pretty bitter, but it wasn't as lethal as I had been lead to believe. Still though, I can see why they were completely packed on a Tuesday night! I'd go back.

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

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Honestly, I think they were cautious with the heat b/c often times Asian restaurants get customers that say they want things "the way they're prepared traditionally" but when the customers get said dish, they dislike the dish and complain about it. They'd just rather be cautious and have the customer come back to try it again than totally turn them off the first time.

But it's interesting how the food has similarities to Nyona-style cooking in Malaysia.

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Honestly, I think they were cautious with the heat b/c often times Asian restaurants get customers that say they want things "the way they're prepared traditionally" but when the customers get said dish, they dislike the dish and complain about it. They'd just rather be cautious and have the customer come back to try it again than totally turn them off the first time. 

But it's interesting how the food has similarities to Nyona-style cooking in Malaysia.

You are 100% right, it DID remind me of the Nonya cuisine.

However, we clearly shot ourselves in the foot by requesting "mild" seasoning. A part from the ginger salad, which was awesome and the coconut shrimp, which was tasty, the rest were WAY underseasoned.

I somehow got the impression that if you just came in off the street and ordered you might get the right degree of spiciness and flavor.

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I somehow got the impression that if you just came in off the street and ordered you might get the right degree of spiciness and flavor.

I think you're right. I've been there twice for lunch and the flavors were more interesting then (although I did request "spicy" once).

All in all, it was a good meal for the $$$, but I think you might have better results if you just come in off the street. They need to work on service-- table was getting a bit crowded with empty plates and it seemed silly to have to go to the bar for a beer.

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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