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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Chinese, Korean
Casual restaurant

Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Accepted

Spring Branch
9486 Long Point Rd.
(713) 461-1857
Mandarin Café
If it sounds gross in English, it’s precisely what you should be ordering

For the best Chinese food in the Long Point area (and a few astounding Korean dishes), look to a barely noticeable strip mall containing several Spanish-speaking businesses. It’s predictably small, dingy, and somewhat depressing, but less so once you convince the staff you want real Chinese food (a needless hassle that will scare away Americanized customers, not win their loyalty). There’s a lot of Korean overlap here, so you’ll be offered several okay banchan sides—kimchi’s really wimpy and watery—and you can pick around some good, quite spicy Korean stews. Jellyfish salad has a great toothiness and fresh, gingery flavor; fried dumplings are ambrosial and tons of fun to chew. Stir-fry dishes are all executed superbly, with careful cuts as impressively uniform as a culinary student’s midterm exam.

But if you look around, the tables around you are all having “Chinese spaghetti,” and so should you (its Korean name is jjajang myeon). This majorly comforting dish full of scallops, shrimp, and jellyfish is in a thick black bean sauce that’s pure umami heaven. Just look to the inky splatters on everyone’s shirts as testament to its irresistibility.

Do your part to improve Chinese-American relations: fearlessly order whatever sounds strangest on the menu—it’s just a translation hiccup—and repeat as needed, until you are no longer offered sweet and sour pork.

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