Pao's Mandarin House

Lakeside Dining 2000: Many Restaurants, Not Much Water

Pao's Mandarin House

2300 Lohmans Crossing, #130, 263-8869

Lunch, Sun-Fri, 11am-2:30pm;

Dinner, daily, 4:30-9:30pm

Lake commuters who lunch at Pao's downtown were thrilled to see this Austin veteran set up shop next door to Randalls in Lohmans Crossing. Now they can get the restaurant's dependable Chinese food for dinner, too (although the menu is not exactly identical to the downtown restaurant's). Pao's is best known for its spicy fare; dozens of little stars highlighting fiery options litter the menu's margins. Although Pao's dishes up familiar renditions of things like General Tso's chicken ($8.50) and kung pao beef ($7.95), my favorite offerings are the Mandarin dishes like the crispy shredded beef, Mandarin style ($8.95). It comes slightly crunchy and layered with scallions, carrots, cilantro, and jalapeño, all of it in a spicy sauce. I also favor Pao's sizzling platters, among them the hot and sour sizzling rice with pork ($7.95), which comes to the table on a sizzling, fajita-like platter, and incorporates rice and sliced pork with garlic, ginger, and mixed vegetables in a thick, glaze-like hot and sour sauce. In the vegetable department, you can't go wrong with the slightly spicy long bean ($6.50) or the powerful broccoli with garlic sauce ($6.50). Pao's lunch menu is a little less adventurous, but entrées come with the soup and appetizer of the day as well as rice and a fortune cookie. The restaurant also offers a gourmet dinner group option for $15.95/person.

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