Ambience and Interiors: Far from the madding crowd at the mall, Mandarin Trail lets your eyes and taste-buds explore the pleasures of the Far East. Oriental wall hangings and lamp shades, Chinese (or at least what looks like Chinese to me) glass artwork, rich brown interiors with a dim lighting and an orange tree (not real of course) near the doors invites the diners to an authentic Chinese experience. (I think the ‘orange tree’ is placed there since oranges supposedly originated in South-East Asia and it’s cultivated in China as well.) The music could have been a little louder and more Far East oriented (instrumental) and the loud thumping music being played at the restaurant opposite the Mandarin Trail eclipsed
whatever was played here. The restaurant occupies a rather large area and has more than adequate seating available. A small bar with bar stools stand at the entrance for those popping in for a quick drink. A couple of slightly elevated wooden floored seating areas, two comfortable round booths, long rows of high cushioned sofas and chairs for large groups of diners and a dining area for small groups and couples a little way towards the inner confines of the restaurant make up the seating here. And you can even watch the chefs going about their work at their stations in an enclosed glass area at the back of the restaurant.
Food & Beverage
To sip: The ‘Fruit Punch’ is a fine pick and looks like any other fruit punch you would find. A rosy pink hued drink and a slice a pineapple adorning the tall glass. The drink offers nothing special but a soothing wash down to go with the food. If you like pineapple, strawberries and a dash of grenadine, this drink is for you.
Appetizers: There are plenty of appetizers (both veg and non-veg) to choose from and we decided to go in with the ‘spicy cottage cheese with chili’. What I liked about this was how they didn’t try to overpower the taste of the cheese with the chili. Rather, the cottage cheese cubes were marinated and cooked to a crisp outside and a very soft inside and served atop the chilis. This allows the diners who want a bit more spiciness to crunch on the chilis alongside the dish. The presentation could have been innovative but it was served just as it is with nothing on the side.
Having a good mind to try the ‘crispy konjee lamb’, I was disappointed when they told me that lamb was unavailable. Dimsums and fish were unavailable as well and you don’t expect that from a restaurant of good standing. This, I was told was due to communal riots in the place from where they sourced the lamb and fish.
Beef was not on the menu surprisingly and there were just two pork dishes which didn’t really appeal to me so I went for the ‘Crispy Orange Chicken’. While I usually pick a lemon chicken from menus elsewhere, I decided to see how another citrus fruit would complement the chicken. The quantity was adequate but here again the presentation was very plain. The chicken also could have been made a little crisper but overall, the orange flavour and the crispiness of the chicken went well with each other.
The vegetarian choice was the ‘baby corn and asparagus in black pepper sauce’ had plenty of baby corn thrown in with a mix of asparagus greens which was tender. The sauce was not thick enough and was a tad bit watery but it didn’t spoil the curry too much since it was paired with the fried rice.
The ‘spicy garlic veg fried rice’ wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. The spices were missing somehow and just appeared in the name. On the bright side however, the pungency of the garlic didn’t overpower the rice and fresh crunchy vegetables chopped into it gave it the right taste.
Service: Our server was efficient and polite and we didn’t have to wait too long for the food to be brought in to the table. He also asked us if we wanted our pictures clicked before we asked him to which I liked.
An issue arose however when it came to using a discount coupon we had. Before billing, the server was polite enough to enquire about any discount coupons we had. Unsure if we had any, we decided to look through anyway and found one to a sister restaurant which they said wouldn’t be valid. So we asked them to wait for a couple more minutes while we looked through and informed them. To our surprise, we did find one and informed them about this before they presented us with the bill. However, they said that they had already printed the bill and the coupon couldn’t be availed. After some discussion with the restaurant manager they said that internal policies didn’t allow them offer a discount after printing the bill. When we had specifically asked them to wait and also presented them with a discount coupon before they gave us the bill, I fail to understand how a restaurant would not provide the discount and satisfy their diners. They did however offer extra discounts on our next visit and also discounts to a sister restaurant of theirs which I appreciate. But failing to provide a discount before the presentation of the bill is not a good thing.
Overall Verdict: The Mandarin Trail is a good establishment to drop by if you’re in the mood for some Chinese and time off from the crowds at Mantri Mall. The menu though extensive somehow didn’t have all the dishes on that day which was a disappointment. The average cost for two (excluding alcohol and other charges) will be approximately Rs. 1500.