The Mandarin Kitchen has been serving Cantonese food on Queensway for over 40 years. It has large, casual premises that can seat 120 customers at once, and gets extremely busy even at less than obvious times (they were turning tables on the Sunday evening of my visit). The dining room is unassuming, with grey carpet, white walls and a low ceiling.
Fried prawns with garlic and peppercorn salt (£8.90) had carefully cooked, tender prawns nicely seasoned with salt and garlic (13/20). Hot and sour soup (£2.60) is a classic dish and this version was well made, with plenty of spicy kick to it and without the gloopy consistency that can afflict this dish (13/20).
Steamed sea bass (£19.00) was filleted when served, but this process was not done well, with a number of bones cropping up in the fish when we ate it. I have learnt through years of eating with doctors that if you have a choice between a waiter and a doctor to fillet your fish, choose the doctor; unfortunately the deed had been done before my wife (who trained as an eye surgeon) was able to intervene, so it was a bony experience. The fish itself was cooked fine, but the black bean sauce was rather tasteless (12/20).
Gai lan (£9.90) was not the very best I have eaten but was nonetheless excellent, the broccoli steamed through until tender, and tasting of the garlic it was cooked with (14/20). Singapore noodles (£7.90) were pleasant, though the texture of the noodles could have been better (12/20), but egg fried rice (£2.90) was well made (13/20).
Thsi was an excellent experience all round. Service was very good indeed, from the cheerful meet-and-greet girl through to our helpful waitress and the restaurant manager. The bill came to a very reasonable £35 a head including drinks.