One of my former co-worker loves to brag about how good Islamic Chinese Restaurant in San Gabriel is. He loves to recount the stories to me on how good the dishes was and how enjoyable those onion cakes was going to be if he ever takes me there.
Guess what? He quit his job on the day before he was suppose to take me there! Of course, I have never heard from the guy again.
So, it took a different set of people to figure where else we can find the place until my boss told me that the original owner of the San Gabriel location had opened up a new one in Anaheim. Excited, I decided to hit up the place on that very same day.
The original owner of the old San Gabriel location have sold that restaurant to a new ownership which kept most of the famed menu items. Through a grapevine, it was told that he got bored from his retirement and decided to open up a new restaurant in Orange County. Of course I have never tasted the old glory days of San Gabriel location and I had avoided the new ownership's staff, so I don't have any comparison of which was better or noticed any differences.
When I was about to head out to this restaurant, an advice was given to look for a golden dome on a temple. You can't miss that if you were driving at day time. As we walked in, you will notice that a fountain in the lobby that was nicely built right in front of the dining room. It was actually a beautiful sight right before you were going to be seated to your table.
You will definitely noticed that Arab, Pakistani, and Chinese would all congregate under the same roof for meal as this place will bring back memories of Beijing's Muslim Quarters for many people. It was something of a United Nation for me to see that a common taste in food can bring everyone together.
A little quick background to this Northern style Chinese cuisine before I arrived. I studied up that the Northerners included many of the noodle dishes as their specialty. Instead of being served with steamed rice, many of the Islamic Chinese food would include noodles, steamed bread, or pancake to go along with your main dishes.
With that in mind, we decided to get the big sesame green onion cake as our bread for our meal. We can still get the steamed rice if we want if we chooses. The general conscious was that we can used the onion cake and rolled up certain items like a falafel or burrito. Neat idea at the time, but I just decided to use it as a complimentary bread instead using it as a wrap.
The Northern cuisine cooking style tends to be either Stir-frying, pan-frying, braising, or barbecuing. The big protein in the diet are the beef and lamb, which you will definitely noticed that no pork were being served in this menu.
As Chinese we all can be, we still wanted something of a tofu or bean curd. So we decided on the shredded spicy beef with bean curd. It was not as spicy as the name sound. This dish was more along the line of being spicy with the red pepper, so it won't burned your taste-bud with unnecessary condiments added on to the beef. Thank goodness I can avoid the spiciness by not picking up the chili pepper and still savor the taste of the beef.
For the big attraction, we wanted to see how different the dumplings that was served here compared to the Shanghai counterparts. The steamed dumplings was a bit doughy, but it retains the flavor and juice inside. Each of those dumplings were on the big mouthful size, rather than the usual bite size you get in a Shanghai restaurant. See the pictures below on the inside of the dumplings.
So far we were enjoying our meal as we commenting on how different the style of cooking was compared to what we had at Macau Street in Monterey Park (RIP). Then one of our buddy, wanted to order a shrimp with cashew nuts. It looked like a typical slippery shrimp that other restaurants usually can easily get. That was a ho hum dish that was nothing special.
The bigger loser in the whole group of meal we had were the vegetarian dishes. We ordered a tofu with vegetables that was slightly undercooked. What's worse, it was also very bland as well and not really appealing to look at. Once we took a few took a few bite of it, we pretty ignored that dish for the rest of the meal. My buddy's wife also wanted to get the mixed vegetables. Even that was a clanker because no one wanted to get a 2nd bite when it lacked any flavor.
The service was excellent throughout the whole meal. They seemed to have a 12 table top round table on the other side of the room that can be reserved for banquets. It was something that we were thinking of having for our company dinner next time as a suggestion down the road.
The total bill came out to be $78 (before tips) for five dishes, one soup, and one order of sesame green onion cake. All of the dishes have pictured above and you will see that it was overwhelming for four people. Too much and plenty of leftovers to take home.
When I come back next time, I'm skipping the silly shrimp dish and both of the awful veggie plates. Definitely will get the stir fried beef or lamb and get the big sesame green onion cake to go along with it. Try to remember the pancake is the substitute for rice in that type of cuisine. Those will be an easy hearty meal for your enjoyment of a Chinese Islamic meal.
I have one question based on observations I have noticed. If anyone ever decides to come here, please tell why it was customary for men to sit on one side of table and women to sit on the other side? That was a mystery to me throughout the whole meal.
Mas Chinese Islamic Restaurant
601 E Orangethorpe Ave
Anaheim, CA 92801