Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chinese food in Lyon? Avoid Le Mandarine!

I have been extremely unlucky in my choice of Chinese restaurant. Da Yin He in Barcelona was a disaster (food BB+), The Golden Bamboo in Copenhagen was boring (BBB). I am happy to say that there are good Chinese places, but ask your hotel for recommendations. I did not. Le Mandarine was just a stone's throw away. There were a majority of Chinese guests - reassuring, but the food was just plain and uninteresting, and the rest was just the same.

Location: BBBB+

Le Mandarine is located in Rue de Lanterne in the historic Terreaux district at the east bank of the river Saone. Rue de Lanterne itself, is a narrow ancient passage, as most of the streets in historic Lyon.

It is easy to get there. Take the bus service to its end destination, Lyon Perrache, enter metro line A direction Vaulx-en-Velin, and leave at Hôtel de Ville / Louis Pradel (5th stop).

Atmosphere: BBB+

The interior is neither creative nor particularly charming. It is like any other traditional Chinese restaurant you find in different corners of the world.

Painted in rich red and golden shades, with much of the same decor, the same prints and Chinese lamps found in Oslo, Nice or Dublin.

Nice tables set with white table cloths, I sat down and found myself well seated on dark Chinese chairs.

Price: BBB+

€20 for a two course dinner with half a bottle of Beaujolais wine. In itself not much, but in my mind too much for the food and wine. If you are the one that do not care much about what the the food tastes like, you would leave happy - I did not!

Service: BBB+

A little slow service, business like - no smiles and no charm. The food was delivered within reasonable time, but the waitress did not make any effort to provide more than just the essential service.

The food: BBB

I ordered a bowl of wanton soup and fried duck lacquered style.

Chinese wonton soup

A wanton soup is usually a clear broth with finely chopped vegetables and Chinese ravioli.

The cook at Le Mandarine had simmered the wantons in a lightly salted stock, in my mind too lightly salted and the seasoning lacked the necessary character. The wantons itself were soggy and overcooked and the filling did not taste very much.

The wanton soup was like the service neither good nor bad, just plain boring.

Duck Breast lacquered style

The duck breast looked delicious, brightly coloured served on a bed of lettuce. I gazed hungrily on the piece of art and expected the rich blend of Chinese spices and sauces to reach my pallet, but I ended up disappointed.

It definitely had some kind of a taste, aromas from the Chinese cuisine, still it was bland - dull. I have tasted the most delicious blend of salt, sugar, and heat - and all these elements were in the sauce, but not in the necessary quantities. The duck was reasonably well cooked.

"Domaine de la Roche Saint Verand

When ordering Beajulolais you should know that this is a very fruity wine with very little body. It was my intention to get a light wine, as Chinese food is light and cannot take a more mature wine.

The Beaujolais from Saint Verand was as expected. Young, with very little of the richness of the wines that I usually drink (as I usually stay away from Beaujolais).

Rating Le Mandarine experience: BBB+ (3,66 points)

Stick to the bouchons, this was hardly a place to enjoy a good meal in Lyon.

Le Mandarin
15, Rue Lanterne
69001 Lyon, France
+33 4 78 28 45 66

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