Mandarin Wok

Two (Snap) Peas In A Pod

During a day off last week, I went to Munford, Tennessee for Chinese food. With the numerous Chinese restaurants in Midtown Memphis alone, some might see this as lunacy. However, my purpose for the trip wasn't for satisfying my appetite, but rather to quench my curiosity. For the past several years, I knew that one of my favorite Chinese restaurants had a "sister" establishment. For Millington's Mandarin Wok II, the obvious assumption was "Mandarin Wok I" or simply Mandarin Wok. Because the two restaurants are in close proximity to each other and not far from a company that I previously worked for, I wanted to dine at Mandarin Wok for the sake of comparison. Unfortunately, I never got around to it and the location of my current employer is prohibitively too far for a short lunch excursion. Luckily, a lazy afternoon allowed me the time to fulfill my wish.

In going to Mandarin Wok, my intention was to get the entrée that I usually order in Millington. By going with Chicken with Cashew Nuts, I was curious about the similarities between the two restaurants. From traveling to places like Shang Hai and the Vietnamese restaurant Phuong Long, I know that the entrée's composition will vary. Not that I'm an expert on Chinese food, but I tend to prefer Mandarin Wok II's version because of its mix of chicken, cashews, snap peas, carrots, celery, onions and baby corn in an Asian sauce (probably soy). Not surprisingly, Mandarin Wok follows the same recipe for its version which also (like its "sister") includes a generous portion of fried rice with roast pork and onions, although the Munford restaurant seemingly uses a little less meat. Other than that, the entrée tastes identical and has the same deliciousness as its nearby counterpart. If the other entrées have the same similarities, one is bound to get a good meal regardless of the "Wok" he/she dines at.
The only real differences between the two restaurants is service. For example, even though both offer similarly priced lunch specials, the Mandarin Wok II's deal includes a can soda at no extra cost. In addition to not offering a drink, the Munford restaurant has an eight-dollar minimum on credit card purchases, although it didn't enforce it when I was there. Also, learning that the restaurants have different owners, I'm not sure if employee compensation is the same. I'm making this assumption on the basis of the tip jar that I saw on top of the cashier's counter (read my review of MacStell's for my opinion about "jars"). By comparison, the Millington restaurant doesn't ask for tips. From what I can remember, the "II" didn't accept one when I included it on a credit card purchase (by the way, I left a tip at the Munford restaurant). Despite the differences, the level of customer satisfaction is the same at both restaurants, so one would have a good experience regardless of where he/she goes.
My summation of the experience at Mandarin Wok is good, although I don't feel that I missed out on anything. As I said, the two restaurants are almost the same despite having different owners. With that being the case, I wouldn't make a special trip to Munford for something that I can get closer to home or work. Likewise, if I lived in either Munford or adjacent Atoka, I would not need to travel far for good Chinese food. Now that I've satisfied my curiosity about Mandarin Wok, where should I go next?


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