Utah Stories

Trip to Bountiful: A Visit to Venerable Mandarin Restaurant

For many years, one of our family’s favorite local dining destinations has been the Mandarin restaurant in Bountiful, which dates back to 1977. That’s when Gregory Skedros – former owner of Mountain View Pharmacy – and his wife Jeni opened the Mandarin. 


Sadly, Greg passed away last year and I miss him and his generous personality. He even invited me to his home a few years ago and gave me fava beans from his own garden to cook at home. The Skedros’ and their five kids have always been involved in running the Mandarin, and today it is owned and operated by his daughter Angel and her husband, Paul. 

If you can’t find something on the menu to love at the Mandarin, you just ain’t trying. The 200-seat restaurant offers 100+ dishes prepared by wok-trained chefs, running the gamut from Crispy Wonton Skins to Hunan Lamb. There is truly something for everyone at the Mandarin, including an extensive beverage selection that includes blended drinks like the Strawberry Daiquiri and cocktails such as the Plum Wine Spritzer, plus wine, beer, sake, cider, spirits, and non-alcoholic drinks. 

Char Shu

When my sister, Ginger, visited us last month it was a no-brainer to take her to the Mandarin, which she loved. We started off with one of the must-have dishes there, Char Shu ($10.99), which is slow-cooked barbecued pork topped with sesame seeds and served with Mandarin’s red sauce and hot Chinese mustard. 

Pot Stickers

We also shared an order of Pot Stickers ($6), which are some of the best I’ve tasted. It was a plate of six plump, pan-fried crispy dumplings stuffed with spiced pork and served with a soy-vinegar-ginger dipping sauce alongside. There are close to 20 appetizers to choose from at Mandarin, ranging from Tofu Soong Imperial Lettuce Wraps ($11.99), and Szechwan Chicken Wings ($11.99), to Crab & Cream Cheese Won Tons ($10.99) and Vegetarian Asian Salad ($11.99).

Imperial Noodles

My sister and I are both noodle lovers (we take after our mom) so we shared a generous dish – all of the dishes at Mandarin are large and meant for sharing – of Imperial Noodles ($14.99). This is a “kitchen sink” dish with just about everything except the kitchen sink in it: wok-fried shrimp and chicken with fresh mushrooms, baby corn, red bell peppers, carrots, water chestnuts, broccoli, Napa cabbage, and sugar snap peas in a light garlic sauce, served on a bed of thin mein egg noodles. Additional noodle dishes at Mandarin include Mongolian Pork Noodles, Singapore Noodles, Chow Mein, Pepper Beef Noodles, Satay Chicken Noodles, and more.

Szechwan Pork and Tofu

There are close to 20 vegetarian dishes on the Mandarin menu, and while the Szechwan Pork and Tofu ($14.49) – also called Ma Po Tofu – isn’t vegetarian, it’s my favorite tofu dish: silken tofu tossed with peas, dried chili peppers, and ground pork in a spicy black bean sauce. Other pork temptations include Mandarin Baby Back Riblets, Nanking Pork, and Pork & Eggplant with Garlic Sauce. 

As you would expect at a family-run restaurant that is so tightly-knit, the service at Mandarin is exceptional and helps explain – in addition to the outstanding food and decor – why there are so many loyal customers who begin lining up for tables starting at 5 p.m. daily. Thankfully, Mandarin now takes reservations (they didn’t used to except for large groups), so you can book ahead. 

Chicken with Garlic Sauce

There’s a plethora of chicken dishes on the menu, including Curry Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken, Cashew Chicken, General Tso’s Chicken, Orange Peel Chicken and others. One of our favorites is the nicely spiced Chicken with Garlic Sauce ($14.49), where chicken is wok-tossed with water chestnuts, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, and diced bamboo shoots in a light garlic sauce. One of the oddities, however, at the Mandarin – compared to most Chinese restaurants – is that rice is not included with dishes that are normally served with rice. Still, that’s not a deal breaker. 

Mongolian Beef

Beef dishes are plentiful too – Peking Sesame Beef, Ginger Beef, Beef with Broccoli, and Hunan Beef, just to name a few. We really like the Mongolian Beef ($15.99), which is tender beef slices tossed with sugar snap peas, onions, carrots, and bamboo shoots in a rich tasting garlic-soy-oyster sauce, and served atop a bed of crispy rice noodles. 

Seafood lovers will be in heaven at Mandarin with its extensive selection of shrimp, salmon, scallop, and catfish dishes. The latter includes Szechwan Catfish and a choice of Whole Catfish (with 72-hour advance notice) in an orange sauce or steamed with scallions, sesame oil and fresh ginger, the traditional preparations. 

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Personally, my favorite seafood selection at Mandarin is the scrumptious Honey Walnut Shrimp ($15.99), where large plump and tender shrimp are bathed in a heavenly honey glaze and served with candied walnuts on a bed of shredded lettuce, garnished with sesame seeds. It’s a dish I can’t get enough of. 

Homemade Ice Cream Flight of Five

With the huge, shareable portions sizes at Mandarin it’s not always easy to “save room for dessert.” But you should, because particularly tempting is the Homemade Ice Cream Flight of Five ($8.50) with flavors like strawberries & cream, lemon drop, cinnamon, passion fruit, Nutella-banana, and guava, served with fresh berries and a crunchy tuile. 

Contrary to popular myth, most restaurants do not fail in the first year of business. However, it is true that it’s a rare restaurant that lasts 46 years, as the Mandarin has done, so far. And there’s no reason to think there is any end in sight, with the hands-on tender loving care that Angel, Paul and their extended family give to their business and its customers. That’s why our family, and many others, turn to the Mandarin when we’re hankering for Chinese food.  

Photos by Ted Scheffler & Courtesy of the Mandarin

Culinary quote of the week: “We might be shifting away from a Eurocentric view of the United States into something that’s much more multicultural, multinational, and Chinese food is just one slice of that..” – Jennifer Lee  

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