The Mandarin Restaurant Menlo Park

When you mention The Mandarin restaurant, many foodies’ first thought might be of the legendary Cecilia Chiang’s former establishment in San Francisco. And they wouldn’t be that far off.

The Mandarin Restaurant of Menlo Park

the mandarin restaurant
Sweet and Sour Whole Fish

South of the city lies a newer Chinese restaurant of the same name, owned by Cecilia Chiang fan Nee Lau.

After a lifetime of working in restaurants, Lau opened the upscale, pan-Asian eatery in Menlo Park in July 2021. He drew inspiration from the famous San Francisco predecessor of the same name but is not at all affiliated with the Chiang family. Lau does, however, keep some of the restaurant decor he got at the original The Mandarin’s closing auction in 2006.

Cecilia Chiang, who pioneered authentic Chinese cuisine in America, opened The Mandarin restaurant in San Francisco in the 1960s. She passed away at the age of 100 in 2020.

Today, Nee Lau pays tribute to Chiang by serving some of the same notable dishes as the first the Mandarin restaurant, like tea-smoked duck. Customers must order this labor of love at least two full days in advance.

Smoked Duck

Much of The Mandarin’s menu is what you’d call “slow food.” The rock cod in spicy black bean sauce takes up to thirty minutes to be prepared. But customers know the food is worth the wait.

Lau prizes quality over everything else. “Our food is almost farm-to-table,” he said.

The Mandarin and Airmart

Although The Mandarin is most popular for its indoor dining service, opening during the pandemic meant that Lau relied heavily on to-go orders. As an old-school restaurant veteran, he didn’t want to deal with changing technology. “Airmart wasn’t even on my radar.”

But when he met with Airmart marketing manager Jin Jie and discovered how convenient and user-friendly the software was, he was sold.

“It’s easy to understand, easy to use. I was able to figure it out and do everything by myself. There were very few, minor hiccups.”

Sesame pancake

Lau praises Airmart for how the platform helps vendors promote their businesses. “Not many other platforms do that.”

Lau recently hosted a livestream with Airmart to promote a pop-up shop for The Mandarin.

“I see a huge opportunity for growth with Airmart,” he said.