Photo courtesy Mandarin Taste

“I missed the taste of China.”

Always poised and elegant, Sally Yau has a wistful look as she recalls leaving Beijing in 1999 to study in Tulsa. She fell in love, got married, stayed. Yearning for the food she grew up with, she hired chefs trained in China and opened Mandarin Taste.

Every year she takes her family back to China to teach her daughters their heritage, and, she says, “to discover new recipes, taste new things.” As a result, Mandarin Taste offers dishes not usually found outside China. For first time visitors, however, “I ask what flavors they like. Sweet or spicy?” The timid might opt for delicious sweet and sour pork or kung pao chicken. For the more adventurous, there are dishes from every region of China, especially Sichuan. There is pork belly with jalapeno, lamb with cumin, mapo tofu. There’s hot pot and dry pot and even spicy pig brains with tofu, which was, until now, available only from a street vendor in Chengdu.

And Yau proudly announces that “we have a dish so new it’s not on the menu. [It’s rough translation is fat cattle.] My friend flies up from Dallas just to try it.” Out comes a bright red stew of beef and spice. How can a dish be sweet and fiery and subtle and explosive all at once, with such complex layers of swirling spice? You eat until you burst and plan your next visit.

6125 S. Sheridan Road, Tulsa,

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