Friday, July 2, 2010

Dee's Mandarin Restaurant

My friend Boost Marder, after a thrilling experience dining with me at Smoke Daddy, wanted more of the fame and fortune that comes from eating with me at a spot for my blog. We decided on Thursday and grabbed a bunch of other buddies including Raj Patel, Schneider, Berger, and Kovar. After some discussion on location we finally decided upon Chinese food. I'd heard so much about this family owned place in my own backyard called Dee's Mandarin Restaurant that we just had to check it out.

Since some of the guys came from the suburbs, Schneider, Kovar, and I beat them to the restaurant. We decided to sit at their bar and grab a drink while we waited. The bartender then explained that she owned the restaurant (Dee in the flesh) and was not experienced. Playing nice, we ordered three Sapporo beers (which thanks to Lisa and Noam, I learned are actually brewed in Canada). One thing valuable about going to eat with Kovar is that he's a sweet talker to the service staff. If he hadn't been so nice, we wouldn't have gotten a table outside or an extra beer for free. So by the time we were done drinking, we'd basically become best friends with the owner.

We got to sit outside in a beautiful backyard patio. It was pretty small, but was well decorated and secluded. The weather held up nicely for us as well. Sometimes the service outdoors can be poor at places but not at Dee's. Our waters were always kept full, we were given plenty of attention, and our food came out in moderate timing.

As far as the cost goes, most appetizers are around $6, and most entrees are $12. We decided to order a bunch of appetizers and entrees and go family style. It ended up being like $20 per person.

I can't really talk enough about how great the dining experience was logistically. Everyone was very friendly and accommodating. The ambiance and seating were beautiful and perfect for a group like us who can make some noise and might not belong in a quiet room. With the ease of sharing Chinese food and the overall setup, I'd say this is a great place to take any group.

The Food
For our appetizers, the table ordered Egg Rolls, Crab Rangoon, and Vegetable Gyoza. The waiter also brought out a plate of homemade sauces including Sweet and Sour, Spicy Mustard, and a Spicy Chili sauce. These dishes were all well received, but for kosher style reasons I only went for the Gyoza. It was steamed in an delicious dough and was overflowing with veggies. The real highlight for me were the homemade sweet and sour and spicy mustard sauces (be warned that the spicy mustard is unbelievably spicy). If you've got sinus problems (take note of this Professor) this will take care of them better than any Sinus Rinse Product.

 Shrimp and Chicken Egg Rolls

Vegetable Gyoza

Crab Rangoon

Homemade Sauce Plate

For the main course we got General Tso's Chicken, Chicken Fried Rice, Mongolian Beef, Mushu Chicken, Crispy Duck, and Sesame Chicken. The first thing we each had was the Mushu Chicken which is kind of the nature of the beast since the waiter basically assembles a mini Chinese burrito for each person at the table. The hoisin sauce was thick and scrumptious. For me it was probably the best item. After that I'd say my next favorite was the Duck. Although it didn't look so appetizing when it came out because of it's somewhat chopped and mangled appearance, it was juicy and tender inside and crispy outside.

 Sesame Chicken

Mongolian Beef

Chicken Fried Rice

Crispy Duck
General Tso's Chicken

The Mongolian Beef wasn't all that savory, and the vegetables it came with were minimal. In general the mantra seemed to be that the dishes weren't soaked in sauce like you often find at Chinese restaurants. If you're going to do that, you really need nice spice rubs and quality ingredients. It's not that the dishes were bad, but the Fried Rice, the General Tso's, and the Sesame Chicken weren't anything special. The fried rice, if anything, was too dry. Disappointingly this was one of the key dishes recommended to us by the owner.

For dessert, we were given free Green Tea and Chocolate Ice Cream. It was delicious, although I feel like Green Tea ice cream tastes just like vanilla with green food dye (kind of like the shamrock shake).

The food was a little hit or miss depending on the dishes, but there definitely were some fantastic highlights with the duck and mushu. The ambiance and treatment we received were top notch. It's a nice neighborhood place, but it's not going to be my go to Chinese restaurant. Still it was great for a tasty meal with some friends. If you want a nice outdoor experience, I strongly recommend Dee's. Also, I've never been treated so nicely by the management let alone the owner of the restaurant. I'm giving them 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

If you go in make sure to say hi to Dee for me

Dee's on Urbanspoon


  1. For me it was the highlight of the Mushu which was probably my favorite item

    yes the mushu was the highlight of the mushu.

  2. OK. Can the comments please be about more than my typos?

  3. There is not one good Chinese restaurant in Lincoln Park. Not one. Most is awful. Dee's steamed or pan-fried kwoh te (gyoza) has an awful, overly thick wrapping--to me it's practically indedible. The entrees are barely passable. Trust me, having lived in Shanghai and Hong Kong for many years, I know my various Chinese foods.

    If I want decent Chinese, much less good, I have to go to Chinatown. Since I prefer Szechuan or Mandarin Chinese, I usually go to Ed's Potsticker or Szechuan Lao. Those are the only two restaurants in the entire Chicago metro area where I have found very good kwoh te and authentic twice-cooked pork.

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