Wok this way

Posted: January 26, 2014 at 6 a.m.

Mandarin Bistro Chinese & Thai Restaurant in Springdale isn't your typical Chinese buffet. Instead, each dish is prepared to order with fresh ingredients.

"We cook plate by plate. We are quite different from a buffet," co-owner Nathalie Tan said.

The soups, sauces and appetizers are made from scratch. Items such as the spring rolls are rolled by hand. The cheese stars, which are Mandarin Bistro's version of crab rangoon sans crab, are individually formed wontons pillowed with cream cheese and fried crispy.

The attention to detail and fresh preparation does not create a slow dining experience.

"We serve it fresh, quick and hot. Within 5-10 minutes, you will get your order," Tan said.

Along with in-house preparation of fresh produce, Mandarin Bistro is focused on serving quality meat. The chicken served is white meat only, the beef and pork are lean cuts, and the shrimp is jumbo size from the Gulf of Mexico.

Lunch specials start at $5.99 and include about a dozen of the most popular dishes, such as chicken-fried rice, honey sesame chicken, shrimp with broccoli, Mongolian beef and General Tso's chicken.

Lunch specials are served 11a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays and include a spring roll, cheese star and fried rice. A choice of egg drop or hot and sour soup is also included for dine-in customers. For $1.49 more, the lunch specials can be purchased at any time.

Mandarin Bistro offers both Chinese and Thai cuisine, a feature uncommon at most Asian restaurants.

"If you walk in a Chinese restaurant, you can't order Thai Iced Tea," Tan said of the sweet and creamy drink.

The Thai portion of the menu includes Thai Yum Salad, Pad Thai, Pho, curry plates and special entrees. A variety of Thai soups are prepared to order with the customer's choice of meat, tofu or seafood and served in a large bowl.

The Chinese portion of the menu features standard selections and entrees that offer chicken, beef, pork or shrimp. Other flavorful dishes include peanut butter chicken, orange chicken, spicy tomato chicken, jalepeno steak, honey sesame pork, coconut curry shrimp or Dynamite shrimp.

The extensive menu includes a variety of soups beyond the common offerings of Asian restaurants. Selections include Tom Yum, Tom Kar, glass noodle, coconut curry noodle and chicken dumpling. Familiar varieties of rice are served, in addition to seafood, Thai and pineapple fried rice. A coconut sticky rice is also offered.

Noodle varieties include Hong Kong Chow Fan, Pad See Ew, Pad Kee Mao, Lad Nar, Singapore Street Noodles and lo-mein.

Thai specials include Thai Basil, garlic pepper and citrus, ginger spices, Thai cashew and fried talapia. Thai curries include red, yellow, green, Panang, Masaman and pineapple.

Nathalie and her husband Chong owned and operated New China Restaurant in Siloam Springs for 12 years, then opened the original Mandarin Bistro in Tontitown. The Tans decided to relocate to the bustling Springdale strip, a quarter mile north of the intersection of U.S. 412 and U.S. 71B.

The staff at Mandarin Bistro in Springdale consists mostly of long-term, dedicated employees who have worked with the Tans at one or both their previous locations over the past 10 years.

"We operate just like family," Nathalie said.

The Tans are focused on fostering a family-friendly environment and that attitude translates to a comfortable dining room with a kind and attentive staff.

The kitchen accommodates allergy requests and has vegan and gluten-free options. There is a drive-thru window, a kids menu, and reservations are welcome.

Delivery to area businesses is available 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Limited residential delivery is also offered with a minimum purchase of $28.

The limitation for delivery is because Mandarin Bistro is a small operation with limited staff, Tan explained.

The full menu can be viewed at mandarin-bistro.com. The restaurant opens at 11a.m. daily and serves a full menu until 8:30 p.m. More information is available by calling (479) 756-8369.

NAN Dining Guide Cover on 01/26/2014

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