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Tierrasanta’s savory secret

Residents have enjoyed traditional Chinese cooking for over 30 years. It’s time to share

Sweet and savory honey garlic shrimp.
Sweet and savory honey garlic shrimp.
Place

Choice of Mandarin

10645 Tierrasanta Boulevard, San Diego

Pick your table, any table.

When I was invited to dinner at Choice of Mandarin in Tierrasanta, I turned to the all-knowing internet to gain some insight on this new-to-me restaurant. Turns out the owners have been serving Chinese cuisine since 1983, so I looked forward to giving this long-standing, family-run business a try.

The restaurant’s red and gold walls, organic art, and accents of dark wood made for a comfortable setting. It was difficult to choose from the traditional yet tempting menu items, but I didn’t feel rushed at any point throughout the meal. I took note of and valued the staff’s friendly, attentive, and patient presence.

Perfectly prepared eggplant with hot garlic sauce.

Complimentary wonton strips and hot tea were promptly delivered to our table, which was unexpected but appreciated. Dipping fried goodies into sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard is satisfying in a deep way. You can’t overlook simple pleasures, and Choice of Mandarin knows it.

The shrimp and sizzling rice soup ($8.25) was the first course, and easily fed a table of three. I got excited when the rice was delivered from the kitchen and finished frying at the table. The crispy rice was spooned into a bowl and topped with the broth, vegetables, and shrimp. The snow peas and carrots were cooked perfectly — meaning hardly at all — and the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots provided additional crunch. I added a splash of soy sauce for saltiness and found myself going back for seconds.

A soup that sizzles.

The honey walnut shrimp ($11.95) were fried in a light batter, sautéed in a creamy seafood sauce, and topped with candied walnuts. The shrimp was tender and flavorful, and the nuts added texture that complemented the seafood. The dish satisfied my sweet and savory craving, but was quite rich and therefore best suited for sharing.

My favorite dish was the eggplant with hot garlic sauce ($8.95). I realize eggplant isn’t the most exciting or popular vegetable around, but it’s absorptive and assumes the flavor of secondary ingredients. In this preparation, chilies, garlic, and onion are the focus; the eggplant and bamboo shoots simply add substance. The combination of the ingredients, though, is what makes this dish a standout.

If you live or work in the area, chances are you’ve enjoyed many meals here. I’ll definitely be returning, and only wish I’d learned of the reputation sooner.

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Sweet and savory honey garlic shrimp.
Sweet and savory honey garlic shrimp.
Place

Choice of Mandarin

10645 Tierrasanta Boulevard, San Diego

Pick your table, any table.

When I was invited to dinner at Choice of Mandarin in Tierrasanta, I turned to the all-knowing internet to gain some insight on this new-to-me restaurant. Turns out the owners have been serving Chinese cuisine since 1983, so I looked forward to giving this long-standing, family-run business a try.

The restaurant’s red and gold walls, organic art, and accents of dark wood made for a comfortable setting. It was difficult to choose from the traditional yet tempting menu items, but I didn’t feel rushed at any point throughout the meal. I took note of and valued the staff’s friendly, attentive, and patient presence.

Perfectly prepared eggplant with hot garlic sauce.

Complimentary wonton strips and hot tea were promptly delivered to our table, which was unexpected but appreciated. Dipping fried goodies into sweet and sour sauce and hot mustard is satisfying in a deep way. You can’t overlook simple pleasures, and Choice of Mandarin knows it.

The shrimp and sizzling rice soup ($8.25) was the first course, and easily fed a table of three. I got excited when the rice was delivered from the kitchen and finished frying at the table. The crispy rice was spooned into a bowl and topped with the broth, vegetables, and shrimp. The snow peas and carrots were cooked perfectly — meaning hardly at all — and the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots provided additional crunch. I added a splash of soy sauce for saltiness and found myself going back for seconds.

A soup that sizzles.

The honey walnut shrimp ($11.95) were fried in a light batter, sautéed in a creamy seafood sauce, and topped with candied walnuts. The shrimp was tender and flavorful, and the nuts added texture that complemented the seafood. The dish satisfied my sweet and savory craving, but was quite rich and therefore best suited for sharing.

My favorite dish was the eggplant with hot garlic sauce ($8.95). I realize eggplant isn’t the most exciting or popular vegetable around, but it’s absorptive and assumes the flavor of secondary ingredients. In this preparation, chilies, garlic, and onion are the focus; the eggplant and bamboo shoots simply add substance. The combination of the ingredients, though, is what makes this dish a standout.

If you live or work in the area, chances are you’ve enjoyed many meals here. I’ll definitely be returning, and only wish I’d learned of the reputation sooner.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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