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When my husband was a little Jewish kid living in the townhouses at York Mills and Bayview, going to Mandarin restaurant for Friday night dinner (Shabbos) was a big treat. Given Jewish dietary restrictions (no pork, no shellfish) it might seem odd to you that a Jewish family would eat at Mandarin on the Sabbath but for many Reform Jews, Chinese is a kosher food.

And the Mandarin on Friday was a community hangout for Marc’s parents and their friends and their friends’ friends. You were guaranteed to see people you knew.  It’s a very family friendly place. Kids can (within reason) run around and be loud. The Mandarin is a buffet-style restaurant. It’s ALL buffet. To a little kid it looks like mile upon mile of buffet. And my husband’s little kid mind was blown by the opportunity to “shop” the aisles of the Mandarin buffet and chose his own food. Then go back for more.  There were big communal tables where large groups of friends could sit together. A grown-up could order a beer or a cocktail with a parasol. It was a kind of heaven.

A couple of weeks ago, Mandarin restaurant offered my family a free meal. I had never been and didn’t know about my husband’s blissful childhood experience with the joint. He told me about it as we sat at Mandarin’s Yonge and Eglinton location, enjoying a plate of sushi, shrimp and crab legs (the restaurant is currently hosting a Crab Legs Celebration). It was a Friday night.  Our kids, aged 8 and 5, excitedly filled their plates from the buffet, leaving us in total peace to have an actual conversation. While we drank beers, the kids knocked back Panda Bear Chiller mocktails (Mandarin is sponsoring the 
giant pandas at the Toronto Zoo) and visited the ice cream sundae bar more than once (we didn’t care ’cause they weren’t screaming, pouting or begging for an iPhone and they ate copious amounts of sushi and shrimp as well).  It was possibly the most relaxing restaurant experience we’ve ever had. And it’s worth mentioning that the Mandarin is FUN. It’s bright and high energy and fun. It has a fake sky. You should totally go there for Shabbos.


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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Mandarin Restaurants

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