FANS of Disney will know a bit about Mulan. She was the young Chinese woman who, according to legend, dressed as a man and took her father's place in the imperial army because he was too old and weak to fight.

For 12 years she fought against barbarian invaders threatening ancient China from the grasslands to the north. Then she returned home, dressed in women's clothes again, and went to meet her old Army comrades - who were amazed to discover that she was a woman...

There have been countless songs, stories and poems about Mulan down the centuries in China. Then, in 1998, along came Disney and made its own animated version of the story. Another Disney adaptation, this time in live action, is due out next year.

Sadly, there aren't any legendary Chinese warrior women waiting on table at the Mulan Chinese restaurant at Clifton Moor in York.

What you do get, however, is a thoroughly pleasant, clean, spacious eatery that serves an abundance of well-cooked Chinese food that suits the English palate.

This isn't, primarily, a Chinese restaurant aimed at Chinese people. Chinese students will go instead to somewhere like Chef Lu's on Walmgate, where the cuisine is blisteringly authentic.

There are no spicy pig's intestines, frogs legs or deep-fried, rubbery sea cucumber on the menu at Mulan. What you will get, however, is a selection of Chinese classics cooked well and simply to an English taste.

We had a Chinese friend, Guanyu, staying for a couple of days, and, never having been to the Mulan, decided we'd take her for a treat.

The restaurant is based in the Tower Court retail centre at Clifton Moor. From the outside it looks fairly ordinary, but step through the door and you're immediately into a clean, bright, airy space. The tables are polished oak, the crystal gleams, a vase of orchids in the centre of the restaurant provides a note of freshness. It's all very relaxing.

We seated ourselves at a table near a large window in the corner, and pondered the menus.

The choice is comparatively limited. There's a good selection of classic appetisers, including spring rolls, salt and pepper beancurd, crispy wontons, crab claws and crispy duck roll. Or you can order a plate of 'aromatic duck' (what we normally call Peking duck, available as a quarter, half or whole portion) to share. It is essentially roast duck shredded on a plate, with sliced cucumber strips, cabbage and a dipping sauce, all accompanied by a tray of steamed pancake wrappers.

For main courses, there is a 'mix and match' menu - you can choose any one of scallops, king prawns, squid, chicken or beef cooked with a range of different sauces and accompaniments, including spicy Sichuan, kung po, yellow bean, green pepper and black bean, curry and satay. There are also some chef's specialities - including roast duck in plum sauce, chicken in lemon sauce and crispy shredded beef and a range of sweet and sour and sizzling dishes. There is also a small selection of vegetarian dishes for those who want to avoid meat.

I chose the vegetable spring rolls (£5.30) and salt and pepper mushrooms (£5.20) to start, while my wife Lili and Guanyu opted to share a quarter portion of the aromatic duck (£13.50). For mains, I went for the beancurd with ginger and spring onions (£7.80) from the vegetarian selection, while Lili and Guanyu shared a portion of butterfly king prawns (£8.60) from the appetiser menu and the 'house special' (a selection of three meats) cooked with bamboo shoots and Chinese mushrooms (£11.80) from the 'mix and match' mains menu.

The food was very, very good. My three spring rolls were large, crispy on the outside, piping hot, and bursting with a crunchy, juicy, tasty filling of mushrooms, carrots, beansprout and Chinese leaf.

Salt and pepper beancurd (lightly deep-fried so it is crisp on the outside, meltingly tender insight, and infused with a tongue-puckering combination of salt, pepper and chilli) is one of my favourite Chinese dishes. It was on the menu at Mulan, but I decided to try the salt and pepper mushroom for a change instead. It was good - the mushrooms deep-fried in a coating of flour, firm and juicy - but didn't quite have a magic of the beancurd: mushrooms just don't absorb flavour as well.

But Lili and Guanyu were delighted with their aromatic duck - the shredded meat was tasty, crispy and cooked 'just right', they said - and their butterfly king prawns were, if anything, even better. The giant prawns had been sliced open and splayed to resemble butterflies, then dipped in batter and deep fried. They were fresh, hot and tasty, crisp outside and wonderfully tender inside.

Having opted against beancurd as a starter, I had it as my main course instead. It came in the form of lightly deep-fried squares of tofu, cooked in a tasty ginger and spring onion sauce. The beancurd itself was subtly flavoured, but the sauce added the hint of piquancy the dish needed. Very satisfying.

Lili and Guanyu's shared main of the 'house special' (a beef, chicken and prawn combo) cooked with bamboo shoots and Chinese mushrooms was perhaps less salty than they would have liked, but they polished it off with gusto nonetheless.

Overall, with boiled rice for two shared between the three of us, plus a glass of Chinese lager for me and a pot of Chinese tea to share, our bill for three came to just over £67.

For an excellent meal in very pleasant surroundings, served by a polite and helpful young waitress, that was pretty good value for money.

Mulan Chinese Restaurant,

Tower Court, Oakdale Road, Clifton Moor, York

Phone: 01904 692268


Food: Satisfying 3.5

Service: attentive 4

Ambience: Pleasant 4

Value: Decent 3.5

Reviews are independent and paid for by The Press