Royal Mandarin in National City is one of the hopping Chinese restaurants around town and one of a handful with those dangerously delicious salted pepper chicken wings that I am so, so fond of. This was my first visit to Royal Mandarin. The lure of the coupon in my Entertainment book enticed me to visit one afternoon after a failed attempt at getting cheesesteaks (which you’ll see soon enough in a future post).
First thing I noticed off the bat was that this place was hopping. There seemed to be a to-go order or a party tray of food coming out of the kitchen every few minutes and almost every table in the place was full. We only had to wait a few minutes to be seated though, lucky for us and my hungry tummy.
We were a little poor on this visit, so instead of getting a plate of salt & pepper wings, we thought it’d be fun to try the Salted Pepper French Fries ($2.50).
These crispy little golden fries have the same seasonings (I assume) as their salted pepper chicken wings. I really liked these. I also really love onions and green onions, so I was gobbling up the onion bits with every fry I put into my mouth. Super crispy, very hot, and very well seasoned. I would order these again. Jake thought they were just a “poor man’s version of salted pepper wings” to which I replied, “Yes, exactly. And we are poor today.”
The three of us opted to all get our own combination platters for dinner, which meant we all got some egg drop soup. This egg drop soup really means business – you can see just how bright yellow is it! It had a ton of egg in it and a few veggies hiding in the broth somewhere. I thought it might have been just a wee bit too eggy, but it didn’t bother me. I ate almost all of it.
This is Jake’s dish – he got the Orange Flavored Chicken combo ($8.25) and he ordered it really spicy. In the end, he didn’t think it was that spicy and figured that our waitress didn’t believe him when he asked for it pretty spicy. The combo plates comes with egg rolls, fried shrimp and fried rice.
Jake’s son got the Kung-Po chicken dinner special ($6.95) which came with egg drop soup, fried rice and salted pepper chicken wings. Being the nice boy that he is, he let Jake and I share in his bounty of salted pepper chicken wings. Let’s just say that I thought the wings were okay – they didn’t have as much of the seasoning as the fries did and that made me sad. Maybe they just slather them up in goodness if you get a whole plate of them. Not my favorite salted pepper wings in town, but decent.
T got his Kung-Po totally not spicy and that made the dish taste really weird to me. I’m sure it’s decent when you don’t take the spiciness and flavor away!
I got the Cashew Chicken combo ($8.25). Jake gave me his shrimp appetizer since he doesn’t like shrimp (!!) so score for me. The shrimp appetizer is a pretty basic deep fried shrimp with a plain batter. I liked them. The egg rolls I did not care for at all and I did not finish eating my egg roll. It was too saucy for my tastes and had too many filler veggies in it. The cashew chicken was good – I liked the cashew pieces and the overall flavor, but I felt like it needed something else… but I don’t really know what. I still enjoyed my meal though!
All in all not a bad experience, but still not my favorite. But it’s nice to try new places and see how the salted pepper wings stand up at other restaurants!
Royal Mandarin Restaurant
1132 E Plaza Blvd
(between Highland Ave & L Ave)
National City, CA 91950
Hours: Daily from 9AM – 10PM
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