Mandarin House (aka Jin) is a Koreatown Chinese restaurant. While it is aimed at a Korean clientele, with a few exceptions, the menu will be familiar to anyone who grew up eating Americanized Chinese food. I must admit that sometimes I yearn for the American style Chinese of my youth, and Mandarin House does it well. Fried shrimp were plump, only lightly battered and not at all greasy - a near perfect specimen served with the obligatory fluorescent red sweet and sour sauce, though a less viscous, less sweet and all around better version than in your typical American Chinese spot. One of the dishes I most enjoyed was the "Sauteed Shredded Pork w/ Vegetable" which was served with cellophane noodles and a very satisfying garlic sauce. The specialty of the house is the less Americanized "Black Bean Sauce Noodle" (cha chiang mein), a dish of satisfyingly chewy homemade noodles in a thick, somewhat alarming brown sauce with onions. I enjoyed the noodles but the sauce was a bit heavy for me and reminded me vaguely of Vegemite with its thick mouthfeel and salty, protein flavor.
Not every dish at Mandarin House was a hit. The won ton soup was bland, as I suppose won ton soup is wont to be. The dumplings were dreadful things, deep fried to death with skins resembling leather in texture. All in all, though, Mandarin House satisfies with its noodles and fried shrimp and the taste of Chinese-American food from the days of yore. If only they had mushu pork.
Mandarin House (Jin)
3074 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005