Highly anticipated eatery will bring 'real' Chinese cuisine to Westchester
While many of us are still in the trenches of our “dry January” or Whole 30 detox resolutions, a beacon of culinary adventure has appeared on the horizon for the coming year. lohudfood has learned that one of the most hotly anticipated openings of 2017 is due to finally arrive next month in Hartsdale: O Mandarin.
We’ve been holding our chopsticks with bated breath for this Chinese restaurant ever since the series of exclusive popups its chef de cuisine Eric Gao held at Euro Asian Bistro in Port Chester last summer to tease out the launch.
RESTAURANTS: Haverstraw's Catch on the Hudson
At the time, Gao — a protege of the legendary and elusive Chinese chef-turned-serial-restaurateur Peter Chang — served journalists a multi-course menu that celebrated Chinese cuisine via traditional flavor combinations and old-world cooking techniques.
Dishes ranged from braised lettuce shoots to lion’s head meatballs to whole fish with peanuts to crispy dry-fried eggplant, among many others. All were highly received.
For co-owner Gen Lee, a longtime Chang collaborator, the Hartsdale restaurant will be a dream realized.
O Mandarin (Photo: Submitted)
“This is Mandarin homecooking like no one else has seen in the area,” Lee tells lohudfood. “For years, some of the best Chinese chefs here have been training in Europe and incorporating French cooking techniques with Chinese ingredients. It’s delicious and very well done. But it’s fusion. My dream is to pull back slowly from that to the real, true Chinese taste.”
Having imported a unique specialty oven for roasting Peking duck, as well as various antique furnishings and tableware, Lee describes the intended experience as “very low key but very elegant.”
Co-owner Peter Liu, who has a stake in both Euro Asian Bistro and the forthcoming O Mandarin, echoes Lee’s sentiments.
“We’ll be serving spicy food from Sichuan, Beijing’s original Peking duck, Mandarin-style dim sum, soup dumplings and flour pancakes,” he rattles off enthusiastically. “We’re also involving some street food, such as Sichuan wontons and dan dan noodles.
“What we want is to serve really authentic Chinese food in a very classic space,” he continues. “On the ceiling we’ll have a hand-carved banner, on the wall there will be a lot of original drawings and old cooking wares. So we’re not only serving food, we’re bringing in the culture and original ambiance: what an emperor’s kitchen garden would look like.”
O Mandarin (Photo: Submitted)
Located on Central Avenue right next to Asian mega-grocery H Mart, O Mandarin is primed to attract both locals, visitors and those from nearby country clubs when it opens, say owners. But their endgame is focused on some of the world’s most elite restaurant critics.
“Our goal is to eventually have a Michelin star rating,” sums up Liu. “It’s ambitious, I know. But this will be a very special place.”
Keep tabs: 361 N. Central Avenue, Hartsdale; no phone yet; no website. The restaurant is due open in mid-February.