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Word-of-Mouth Recommendations Say Head North to the Mandarin

Only open three months, news and reviews of the Mandarin's authentic Chinese cuisine have diners heading to the Novato's Days Inn.

There are some people who are the equivalent of early adopters when it comes to the food scene. As soon as someplace new opens, they are on it and start spreading the word. 

at Novato’s already has the local foodies raving with word-of-mouth recommendations that any restaurant owner would love to hear within three months of opening.

It’s not surprising when you know that owner Benson Hong has the credentials to create a top-notch restaurant. He worked for more than 20 years at the celebrated Mandarin restaurant in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square. Opened by Cecilia Chiang, it was the restaurant that introduced us to authentic Chinese cuisine in the 1970s. I shake my head when I remember what used to pass for Chinese food before then.

Hong opened his namesake Mandarin restaurant in May in the space that was once the Garden Court, on the ground floor of the Novato Days Inn off North Redwood Boulevard not far from the landmark Birkenstock building. 

He brought with him Chef Rui-Li-Lin, who worked at the Fountain Court on Clement Street in San Francisco, to help him bring in authenticity and quality.

In addition to that overall freshness and quality to standard entree items, Hong has some special menu items he's offering to make his restaurant a standout. I can say it in five words: Peking Duck and Dim Sum.

Peking Duck needs to be ordered with 24 hours notice, and Hong has installed a special oven especially for making the duck. Also on the menu, without the need to order in advance, is Smoked Tea Duck.  Hong explained that with Smoked Tea Duck you eat the meat and with Peking Duck you eat the specially prepared skin.

You have to read Leslie Harlib’s excellent review of The Mandarin. She said the food knocked her socks off and advised that even non-Novato residents should make the trek to try it.

Harlib also sampled the wide selection of dim sum, including beef shumai, shrimp dumplings, vegetarian steamed dumplings and chicken potstickers. She called the chive pockets among the best dim sum she’s had in Marin.

The early adopters are right. Hong has brought something special to the Novato restaurant community and it’s well worth trying and spreading the word.

The Mandarin Restaurant, Authentic Chinese Cuisine, 8141 Redwood Blvd., Novato. Phone 415-897-1555, Fax 415-897-8367. Open daily for dinner, Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. for lunch. Beer and wine. www.MandarinRestaurantOnline.com

Mark Burnham August 28, 2012 at 07:05 PM
one of my favorite places in novato has reopened. the setting in the dining room in the evening with mt burdell, the pool, and the fountain is just wonderful. one of the previous restaurant tenants here had the single most memorable comcast ad on tv in marin. "BALI HAI!" welcome back!
mike jones August 28, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Lol mark remember grace wong your host on the tv ad she would turn to the little boy and he would say BALI HAI!!
Andrea S August 29, 2012 at 03:18 PM
My daughter and I went there for her birthday dinner (she loves Chinese food) in early June. Her godfather came to visit her last week and took her out to eat. She guided him there because she didn't know the name. Needless to say, she is a huge fan. We will be going back soon as a family. We welcome them to the community. They need to get their name out more. It's good food
susan fischer August 29, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The Mandarin Restaurant is a great place to eat! Support them!! They really want to support the community as well. San Marin's smARTt has a Dine & Donate scheduled there for November 8th!
sheri August 29, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Happy to hear that a new restaurant has opened in Novato! We really need more good restaurants. Looking forward to trying them out. I just hope they DON'T use MSG!!!
Jim Rule August 30, 2012 at 01:13 AM
We have already dined at the Mandarin several times and on each occasion it was outstanding. The excellent menu and fine service make it one of our favorite places to go. The owner and his staff are working very hard to make this a successful establishment and I will continue to support their efforts.
Vickie L Boyle August 30, 2012 at 03:04 AM
The Mandarin is a delicious addition to Novato. It has quickly become our favorite Asian restaurant.
mike jones August 30, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Ok well I went there for lunch today and it wasn't that great. China palace is the best in novato by far kids.

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