The Mandarin — Our Special Place

 
 
When I was asked if I was familiar with The Mandarin Chinese Buffet, I laughed and answered, “Of course, it’s the reason I own buffet pants!”
 
I kid, but my family has been going to the Mandarin for decades, so now I’m continuing the tradition with my own little family. When our son was younger, his birthday restaurant of choice was one that features over-priced, salty food and animatronic animals. Thankfully both he and his little sister have outgrown it and have moved on to “our place.”

What makes The Maaaaan-dar-iiiin (Sorry! That tune will now be stuck in your brain for next 6-84 hours) our place? First and foremost—the food. There’s something for everyone in my family; including the pickiest eater on earth…my girl child.

The buffet format (all joking aside about my buffet pants…I actually wore skinny jeans last time, albeit, unbuttoned…) suits our family perfectly. Our daughter’s attention issues make staying seated difficult, so the opportunity for her to get up and walk around makes a buffet style meal the easiest and most relaxing choice for us.

Also, making her own selections gives my girl power over her meal; she is more apt to eat what she has chosen for herself. Granted, there may not be a single vegetable in sight and dessert items somehow appear on her plate beside her noodles and shrimp, but I’m okay with that. Fellow parents of kids who eat like birds will totally get this. A meal without coaxing and negotiations is worth the price of a Jello cube along side a helping of lemon chicken and rice….and olives and croutons from the salad bar. 

Any time somebody gets up for another course, Avery tags along. It’s ideal. When our family of four visited last week, we dined for two deliciously peaceful hours. This would not have been possible in a regular sit down restaurant.

A ‘special place’ is one where memories are made and fondly remembered. The Mandarin is the first sit down restaurant we ever visited as a family. It’s where we’ve celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, a wedding shower, a graduation and it’s where we entertain out-of town-guests. The exceptional value and quality food truly can’t be beat. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the service. The servers at the Mandarin are top notch; friendly, polite and attentive.

The buffet has an extensive soup and salad bar, grill tables, a prime rib counter, a sushi corner (my favourite station) and a variety of hot foods showcasing the best in Chinese Canadian fare. Of course, the kids (and I’ll include my husband in this) love the wide array of desserts and the ice cream sundae bar.

 

Okay, so I don’t know what exactly is going on with this pose below. Hugo, the owner of the Mandarin near us (a mere eggroll’s roll away from our house actually) took us on a restaurant tour so I asked him to take a photo of me. I seem to have an odd affliction whereby I feel the need to jut out my hip in posed photos. It’s weird. I need to figure out why I do it and learn to stop.

 


 
I may be “pose challenged” but I can offer a few 
tips about guiding your family through a buffet:

 

  • Allow your children to take break in between courses. Drawing on the reverse of a paper placemat will buy you about eleven minutes of quiet time.

 

 
  • It’s okay to let your child play with your iphone while you eat, as long as the volume is turned down as not to disturb your fellow diners.
  • Invite friends and family to join you for a night out. Nobody wants to dine alone. 
 
 
  • Be aware that popular restaurants like The Mandarin get busy on weekends. So, either dine as we dine, EARLY (this is what The Mandarin looked like as we left)…

 

 

  • ….or choose to dine on weekdays which are less crowded and a little less expensive.
  • Have a system. Mine is as follows: do not fill up on bread and take little bits of everything so you get a chance to try lots of things. 

 

 

  • Challenge your kids to try at least three new things they’ve never tasted before. This is a great way to expose children to new tastes, textures and flavours. But, don’t stress too much about the choices they make (within reason!).

 

 
  • Arrive hungry, but not hungry enough to eat your napkin! 

 

 
  • Talk, ask questions, enjoy each other’s precious company. It’s not just about eating (although THAT part is really, really good). Dining out is more about making memories and spending time together as a family, because as they say, your family is your fortune. 

 

 

Although this post has generously been sponsored by Mandarin, the opinions and language are all my own.

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