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After 24 years, Palo Alto's Mandarin Roots closes

Uploaded: Jan 4, 2023

Executive chef Jarvis Yuan makes lunch at Mandarin Roots restaurant. (Photo by Natalia Nazarova)

By Kate Bradshaw

Mandarin Roots, a long-standing family-run Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto, closed its doors Dec. 31 after 24 years in business.

"All good things eventually come to an end and it is with great sadness to announce that the time has come to close our doors," the owners wrote on their website.

In 2014, the restaurant at 3345 El Camino Real was changed from Hunan Garden to Mandarin Roots. It had been run for 15 years by owner Simon Yuan before it passed to his son, Jarvis, who revamped the restaurant with a Chinese-Californian concept offering "elevated street food" that became Mandarin Roots.

"It's based off the idea of taking Chinese food that my dad was doing and fusing it with what I've been doing, which is California, and taking that to the next level," Jarvis said at the time.

The menu offered craft cocktails, fusion-focused tapas like pork belly quesadilla, Kalbi beef tacos and Taiwan sliders, and extensive noodle, beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian fare.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by A resident of Barron Park, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 5, 2023 at 10:45 am

A resident of Barron Park is a registered user.

I only discovered Mandarin Roots recently. Very sad to hear it is now gone! Really enjoyed the unique Lotus and Lilies dish...
Thanks for your years of service to the community!

Posted by Midtowner, a resident of Midtown,
on Jan 5, 2023 at 11:10 am

Midtowner is a registered user.

Hunan Garden, which was later renamed Mandarin Roots, offered the best Chinese food in the area. We were faithful customers for over 20 years, and though occasionally we tried/ were invited to/ other Chinese restaurants, we always returned to Hunan/ Mandarin/ as it was unquestionably better. Simon was a charming, efficient owner who knew all his customers and greeted them personally, and his son Jarvis brought in many new and delightful innovations in the menu when he took over the business. Nancy, who was in the reception and also helped serving the customers, was always there with a smile - she will be greatly missed too. What a pity to lose this great restaurant! We will always remember those one-of-kind potstickers and the amazing tangerine beef, as well as all the other mouth-watering items on their menu....

Posted by MR diner, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 5, 2023 at 2:03 pm

MR diner is a registered user.

So sad this place is closing. Yummy food and cozy ambiance.

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jan 7, 2023 at 8:51 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

So what's going to replace them? I was there with a friend for lunch about 2 weeks ago and the liquor license had already been transferred to the new owner -- whoever that is since none of the employees knew.

Nor did they know what was going to replace it but since their liquor license was transferred to the new owners, presumably it's a restaurant. Or bar.

Some detailed followup / reporting would be appreciated.

I'm going to miss them. It's been our go-to-place for years and when Mandarin Roots changed the menu, Simon's family would still make the old off-menu items like the clam and ginger soup if one just asked. And they were pleased to do so because they were proud of their family business -- unlike so many of the new corpporte-owned places with no history and no soul.

Posted by ALB, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jan 7, 2023 at 11:13 pm

ALB is a registered user.

The hospitality and excellent cuisine are appreciated. The garlic noodles, duck salad, Autumn cocktail, hot and sour soup and yes the clam and ginger soup were extraordinary. The sincere welcome by the family always lifted one up. The casual and airy atmosphere was relaxing. You felt as if on holiday. I miss Mandarin Root and can't think of another restaurant that has all of these characteristics. I wish this special family good luck and health. Thank you for giving us a refuge and wonderful food. Jarvis you have what it takes. Please consider opening a restaurant at a new location. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Posted by Mr. Nimbus, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jan 9, 2023 at 6:58 am

Mr. Nimbus is a registered user.

According to the California Alcohol Beverage Control site, the license has been transferred to a business called "Red Hot Wok"

Web Link

There is a Red Hot Wok in Cupertino, a Taiwanese restaurant, and the names associated with that license are the same as Palo Alto, so it looks like they're expanding.

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Jan 9, 2023 at 12:21 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Mr, Nimbus,

Thanks so much for taking the trouble to check who the new owners are. It looks like they got generally positive reviews on Yelp.

You might also let the SF Chronicle know since they simply recycled the item here without adding any useful information.

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