Mandarin Kitchen's Seafood and Tofu Hot Pot: 100 Favorite Dishes, No. 54

Do you ever find yourself in a Chinese rut?

You keep ordering the same old egg roll, sweet and sour, lo mein, sesame chicken, and egg foo young. What? You are ordering pad thai at a "Chinese" restaurant for "change"? Now, that's just desperate AND offensive.

When there is clearly a problem at the local Chinese take-out shops, head over to Mandarin Kitchen in Bloomington for a delicious hot pot filled with seafood and fried tofu.

Mandarin Kitchen's Seafood and Tofu Hot Pot: 100 Favorite Dishes, No. 54
Kei Terauchi

It's true that the restaurant's vast menu makes it difficult to distinguish between Americanized and authentic dishes. But it's not hard to guess that the "Hot Pot" section might be reserved for those more familiar with Chinese cuisine.

Bubbling hot mess of seafood, vegetables and fried tofu arrive overflowing in a stone pot. It's a test of patience not to jump right in and burn your tongue. Just remember that you'll be peeling off the skin from the top of your mouth for the next week if you do.

Plump shrimp that pop in your mouth, melt-in-your-mouth scallops and tender squid are a confirmation that Mandarin Kitchen knows quality seafood. While the nappa cabbage and wilted scallions provide sweetness, the fried tofu soaks up the savory broth, making it a juicy delight to bite into.

You like it spicy? Dunk in some of the hot chili oil right in the calderon. When the spring air turns cold at night, the heat is a welcoming addition to the already warming dish.

Mandarin Kitchen8766 Lyndale Ave S, Bloomington 952-884-5356, website

Hungry for more? The dishes in our countdown thus far are linked below: No. 55: Polish Delight Cocktail at the Inn No. 56: Gopher Bar's Coney Island Dog No. 57: Holy Land's hummus tahini
No. 58: The Sample Room's wild mushroom ragout on polenta
No. 59: On's Thai Kitchen Nam Thok
No. 60: Flamingo Restaurant's vegetarian combo
No. 61: Sea Change's Brioche Pain Perdu
No. 62: Haute Dish's "Steak & Eggs"
No. 63: Tremblay's Sweet Shop salt water taffy
No. 64: Bars Bakery's Turtle Bar
No. 65: Pizzeria Lola's Lady ZaZa Pizza
No. 66: In Season's fried oysters
No. 67: Cave Vin's steak frites
No. 68: Everest on Grand's cabbage and potatoes
No. 70: Surly Coffee Bender
No. 71: Quang's bun tom xao
No. 72: YoYo Donuts' maple bacon doughnut
No. 73: Cupcake's mini cupcakes
No. 74: Willy D's ribs
No. 75: Salsa a la Salsa's Fried Chocolate Truffles
No. 76: Anodyne's Artichoke Melt
No. 77: Origami's steamed duck
No. 78: B.T. McElrath's Salty Dog bar
No. 79: Mozza Mia's house-made limoncello
No. 80: Salty Tart Bakery's pastry cream-filled brioche
No. 81: Little Szechuan's bamboo tips with chili sauce
No. 82: Oceanaire's Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
No. 83: Aperitif's Nonni's Meatballs
No. 84: Christos's Saganaki
No. 85: Seven Stars' Sesame Bagel
No. 86: Hell's Kitchen Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes
No. 87: Blackbird banh mi
No. 88: Tank Goodness chocolate chip cookies
No. 89: Sole Cafe's gal bee
No. 90: Porter & Frye's El Pelon
No. 91: Coffee News' fish and chips
No. 92: Bread & Chocolate's Fabulous Fudge Bar
No. 93: People's Organic Panna Cotta
No. 94: Sea Salt Eatery Crawdad Po' Boy
No. 95: Fuji Ya's Tofu Don
No. 96: Ike's Food and Cocktails The Weekender Bloody Mary
No. 97: Punch's Toto pizza
No. 98: Stockholm Pie Company's peanut butter fudge cream pie
No. 99: Dogwood Coffee Co.'s macchiato
No. 100: Al's Breakfast buttermilk pancakes

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