When I reviewed Mainland China back when they had just opened, I was floored by the quality and taste of their food and consequent visits have yielded the same standards.
Unsurprisingly, the restaurant has attracted a steady stream of diners since its inception thanks to its yummy Chinese food. Recently however, Mainland China introduced new additions to their menu which, quite surprisingly, seemed to have expanded to include multiple Asian cuisines.
Personally, I appreciate when restaurants stick to their guns and focus and specialise on a particular cuisine or food category, like dessert. Unfortunately however, few restaurants appear to be able to do so, eventually expanding out of their zones. The Sri Lankan diner certainly plays a big part in these decisions considering that we like familiarity, meaning most of us like seeing Nasi Goreng or a Biryani, say, on the menu of a Chinese - or even a continental! - restaurant. Moreover, very few of us appreciate authenticity, which is why most restaurants are always “fusion” in order to cater to our palates. A pity, but a stark reality here in the island.
Mainland China's newest additions comprised Dim Sum, Soup, Starters, Mains, Rice / Noodles and, of course, dessert from a variety of Asian cuisines. The restaurant recently hosted the media and the restaurants loyal diners to a tasting.
The Dim Sum at Mainland China has always been one of their best offerings and I was glad that the two new additions - Pan Fried Chicken Dumpling and Red Curry Prawn Dumpling - were absolutely delicious!!! The perfected texture of the dumplings, and the flavour of the fillings came together to create a dim sum I would gladly have seconds of!
The ever so popular Tom Yum was the soup on offer, and while it was good, it didn't blow my socks off - firstly, the soup had cooled down a little but when it was served which greatly reduced the taste, two, it could have been spicier, as is expected of a Tom Yum, and finally, was not the right consistency. But taste wise - with many thanks to coriander - the Tom Yum did well.
Among the starters introduced were three varieties - Green Beans with Sesame and Dried Chilli, Java Grilled Fish and Chicken Taipei. The Green Beans were crunchy and well flavoured, another dish well done! The fish, however, paled in comparison; grilled quite well, to be honest, it was devoid of any flavour, possibly due to a lack of good marination.
Alone, the fish was disappointing, its only saving grace, the salsa. The yummy Chicken Taipei got the food back on track. Similar in taste to the indo chinese dish, the gobi manchurian, the batter fried chicken was tossed in an aptly spicy sauce that I loved!
I also sampled the Stir Fried Vegetables with Korean Chilli Sauce, Prawns with Black Pepper and Miso, Chicken Thai Green Curry and Lamb with Thai Basil.
The Stir Fried Vegetables were tossed in a sauce, and the sauce defined the taste of the dish. Tasty, but not great. The prawns with black pepper was delish and flavourful. Well marinated, the prawns were also perfectly cooked.
The lamb was also quite yum with more subtle flavouring, allowing the distinctive flavours of the lamb to shine.
The chicken in green curry was a far cry from the rest of the food I tried that night, and can only be described as substandard at best, tasting ‘artificial’, for lack of better word. This was dispiriting, considering that the rest of the food was very good. The first indication that they had gotten the chicken quite terribly wrong was the artificial colour of their “green” curry, and it appeared that boiled chucks of chicken had been added to this green concoction as an afterthought.
Mainland China had also introduced a Seafood Nasi Goreng and a Vegetable Pad Thai. The seafood Nasi Goreng hit all the right flavours and was another hit among the diners. The Pad Thai was also satisfactory.
For dessert, they had introduced Coconut Dumplings with Date Syrup and Honey Noodles. Mainland China already has a similar dessert in their menu - the Coconut Dumpling, but with Honey Butter Sauce. A slight variation, the only distinguishing feature being the date syrup, the coconut dumplings were definitely tasty as was the Honey Noodles - which was essentially fried chinese noodles coated in honey, which I wager will be a hit among kids.
There’s no doubt that the Chinese served at Mainland China is usually very good - their loyal following a testament to that. In venturing outside of Chinese cuisine, they have attempted to master a host of popular Asian food staples, and for the most part, I can safely say they managed. There were a few misses, but the hits left a lasting impression and showed that the team at Mainland China have still got excellent culinary chops. Hopefully they will address their failings and continue their successful streak.