The authentic antique-laden interior (check out the pair of Ch’ing Dynasty gentleman farmer’s chairs and hand-carved ceiling banner) should be a tip-off that O Mandarin is not your run-of-the-mill corner Chinese takeout joint.
In fact, it’s first and foremost a sit-down restaurant, co-owned by White Plains resident Peter Liu, who’s also a partner at Port Chester’s Euro Asian Bistro. “I am saddened and frustrated by the state of Chinese restaurants in America that are stuck in a time of utilitarian décor and greasy food,” says Liu. “There is a need to represent Chinese food and culture accurately.” The 95-seat O Mandarin is Liu’s attempt at a truthful portrayal: home-cooking and street food served family-style, honoring regional specificity. The menu includes meat-centric Old Mandarin dishes, like smoked pork with leeks and wild pepper beef; spicy Sichuan entrées, such as chili oil stew with fluke and napa cabbage; and mild, seafood-heavy Cantonese plates. A must-try, signature dish is the organic Peking duck that’s oven-roasted with malt sugar rubbed into the skin and served with house-made flour crepes, scallion, cucumber, and sweet hoisin sauce. The chef de cuisine is Eric Gao, a disciple of James Beard Award-nominated, Chinese-born Peter Chang, who has numerous restaurants in Virginia and Maryland.
Chef’s signature dishes — such as this Mandarin pork shank with wild peppercorns, onions, potatoes, and scallions — are served family-style.
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Liu often visits China, where he grew up and lived until he was 20, and plans to bring in visiting chefs to cook regional specialties.
The space, previously a Friendly’s, underwent a six-month renovation and is now decked out in lots of elm wood and traditional Chinese cookware.
“I see smiles when people eat the food here,” says Liu, “and that’s rewarding.”
361 Central Ave, Hartsdale