Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Pullman's Mandarin House

Catherine and I have been pretty disappointed by the Chinese Food in Pullman since we moved down here almost a year ago. There are four Chinese restaurants, but three of them are owned by the same family, and the food is really pretty bad. It’s just too Americanized, so it’s pretty sugary without much to balance it. We’d been meaning to try the last place in town for quite some time, but our bad experiences had made us not terrible excited to bother trying.

How foolish we were.

The Mandarin House in Downtown Pullman is a real Chinese Restaurant. It’s not as good as Spokane Valley’s Peking Palace, not much is, but it is easily the best Chinese in Pullman. The Almond Chicken I was given had this fantasitic crispy tempura which crunched nicely, and was smothered in this great gravy that was thick enough to easily cover all the chicken, but not the consistency of library paste, like some restaurant’s Almond Chicken. The Chow Mein and Egg Rolls were delicious, the egg rolls just crunchy enough to hold together nicely. Frankly, none of the food we had, from the Egg Foo Yong, to the Kung Pao Chicken was remotely disappointing. Not only was the food better than the alternatives, it was just plain good.

What I can’t figure out, is why the place is always so empty. They’ve got a $6.50 Lunch Special, and the food is at least as inexpensive as the alternatives, but it’s just so much better. There is a possibility that the food may be a bit more authentic than most people are accustomed to, but Mandarin Chinese is really nothing strange. Hell, mostly it’s meat and vegetables with gravy. Or perhaps it’s just a newer restaurant, and people haven’t learned yet.

If you’re looking for a great Chinese dinner, and you don’t want to spend too much for it, do not go to the Emerald. Do not go to New Garden. Go to the Mandarin House. Parking may not be quite as easy, but it’s worth walking a few blocks. I can’t say that about the alternatives here in Pullman.