Mandarin, Bournemouth

It’s the turn of Chinese cuisine to grace the review pages, with a selection of seafood, shellfish and sweets…

Whenever I walk through the Lansdowne area of Bournemouth, it often amazes me how many new restaurants pop up. Especially as they just as often disappear. A few of them have appeared on this site before and done quite well. Reef & Beef, for example – that is no longer there, but I remember the dinner fondly.

Tempura Prawns

One of the mainstays, however, is the Chinese restaurant Mandarin, quite a sizeable building – it pretty much takes up a street corner. It came at the recommendation of my friend Mantas Gliaudelis, currently on the management team at The Crab. He and his girlfriend treated me to a belated birthday dinner there, which is the subject of our review today.

Steamed King Scallops

First things first – book a table. It’s a popular joint, so avoid disappointment. Next thing – be prepared to spend. Dishes range from £4 all the way into double figures, regardless of whether they are starter, main or dessert. For example, a half-dozen Tempura Prawns (see pictured above) will cost you £9.00, whereas the not-so-commonplace Steamed King Scallops (see pictured), will only set you back 60p more. Those are starters! You can’t call it cheap here.

They cannot be faulted on the presentation, especially with the scallops. Let’s face it – there is no other way to make a scallop look attractive than to serve them in their beautiful shells and dress them up with some colourful chillis. And they tasted marvellous. Unfortunately the £9.60 you pay for them only makes for three or four mouthfuls.

Oysters with Ginger and Spring Onions

In terms of pricing, it doesn’t get much better in the mains department. Four only 90p more than the scallops starter comes, in my case, a dish of Oysters with Ginger and Spring Onions (see pictured). They fell a bit short of the mark with the presentation on that one, but cooked shellfish in general aren’t all that visually appealing. There’s £10.50, and then you have your rice on top of that, priced between £3.00 and £7.50. Again, I have nothing but compliments for the flavours – I’m forever finding new combination ideas for shellfish, and ginger and spring onions go very well with oysters. But that is potentially over £20 not well spent in terms of value.

Raspberry Pavlova

Dessert was definitely the closest we had to good value – my choice was a Raspberry Pavlova (see pictured) – though this was not a pavlova as tradition would have you expect, with a meringue nest filled with raspberries. This was all quite Nouvelle Cuisine with the elements all stacked up on top of one another – meringue, then raspberry ice cream, “vanilla ice” and then more meringue to finish. An interesting take on one of my favourite dishes.

Toffee Topolino

Those who are not feeling fruity may feel like the Toffee Topolino (see pictured) instead? It is virtually the same dish, only toffee-flavoured. Still very tasty, though, I have no doubt. Those both cost £5.95.

On this occasion, I wasn’t paying for my meal – I know I have not had much good to say about the value of the food: not my being ungrateful, only remarking that my friends’ money may have been better-spent elsewhere, that’s all. This review is advice to any prospective visitors to Mandarin to come with their wallets prepared to take quite a hit…