Saturday, January 13, 2007

China + Islam = Crazy Delicious

Southern California's San Gabriel Valley, home to one of the largest Chinese-American populations in the country, is like a treasure hunt--around every corner you can find a delicious surprise, but you need good clues to get you to the right places. My latest clue came from Chez Shoes and her recommendation of China Islamic in Rosemead, and boy did she steer us in a fabulous direction (more on Chinese Islamic cuisine).

Last night J and I feasted on a heap of nang (unleavened sesame-scallion bread), spicy-salty chicken, three flavors wonton soup, and lamb mu shu. The steaming bowl of soup was our favorite--laced with thin strips of chicken, lamb, carrots and bamboo shots, dappled with bobbing shrimp, pea pods and wontons--its robust broth was perfect for a cold Los Angeles night.

Muslims don't eat pork, so lamb takes its place in many dishes on the menu. Our waiter kindly and expertly rolled our delightful lamb mu shu pancakes, spreading just the right amount of sweet plum sauce on the inside. The sesame scallion bread, unfortunately, was not well-matched with the dishes we ordered. I had read reviews explaining that you'd use the bread in lieu of rice. Had we ordered more saucy dishes that didn't have their own delivery systems (e.g. soup bowl, mu shu pancake), it would have worked well, but on it's own it's a little blah.

Another treat here is the tea--the aromatic brew is flavored with a smidge of orange flower water, a musky, mysterious smell that you'll want to breath in deeply.

China Islamic
7727 Garvey Ave
Rosemead, CA 91770-3003

Visiting China Islamic means I get to cross another spot off my to-eat list. Here's the latest below--I've added one thanks to LA-OC Foodventures. If you have recommendations, let me know and if I haven't already visited, I'll add them. They've gotta be east of La Cienega and not too $$.

The 2007 Erin's Kitchen Cheap To-Eat List (in no particular order)

Angeli Caffe (thx, Gastronomy 101)
Annapurna (thx, Kalyn's Kitchen--it's not east, but she's not a local, so it counts)
Casa Diaz (via Taco Hunt)
China Islamic (thx, Chez Shoes)
El Huarache Azteca (thx, Chez Shoes)
Golden Deli (thx, Anon)
Gueleguetza (via myself)
Halal Tandoori (via Eating LA)
J & J Restaurant (thx, LA-OC Foodie)
La Curva (via Foodie Universe)
Los Balcones de Peru (via All Kinds of Yum)
Noshi Sushi (thx, Rachael)
Paris Baguette (via LA Ritz)
Soot Bull Jeep (via Colleen Cuisine)
Zeke's Smokehouse (via Best of LA)


Kristen said...

You are making great progress on this list and its only the 3rd week in 2007. I'm impressed and have enjoyed your reviews.

Tableau Vivante said...

I would like to make a suggestion as well: Shin Sen Gumi Hakata Ramen in Rosemead on Valley Blvd. It has become the husband's favorite. And if you make it up to Pasadena for breakfast some weekend: Europane on Colorado. Their cappucinos have righteous foam and Sumi's croissants are legendary.

Anonymous said...

Hi Erin, first time to your blog. I'm constantly searching for a good eat, looks like I found the place :) By the way, aren't they used to be Beijing Islamic ?

If you like the Beijing Islamic cuisine, I've got a suggestion, if you don't mind. There's a little place across from the famous Kee Wah bakery on W.Valley, tucked in that small plaza.
Food Garden Restaurant
227 W.Valley Blcd. Suite 118-A
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Their cumin lamb skewers are smoking hot !! I don't mean literally spicy, but got tt real charcoal flavor, extremely delicious. They got this really nice baked live tilapia fish wrapped in a foil, with really nice chinese wine.

Just a few suggestions, hope u don't mind ? Cheers ! :)

Erin S. said...

Thanks Kristen!

Tableau--I will add the Ramen place to the list. I love Europane as well--I used to live in Pasadena and miss it a lot.

Melting Wok--welcome, thanks for stopping by--I will add Food Garden as well--Thanks fro the recommendation!

Carrie said...

I don't recommend Zeke's. It's kind of expensive and not that delicious--although they have some great apple sauce. Instead I recommend the Bear Pit in Mission Hills or the Barn Burner in Pasadena.

Anonymous said...

ok this is kind of off-topic, but in a somewhat bizarre coincidence, someone just introduced me to this guy:, a Chinese-Islamic calligrapher. beautiful stuff, and apparently he'll often write something in Arabic, that, if turned sideways, is also in Chinese. pretty cool..

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite Chinese regional cuisines. Just add a sprinkle of salt to the bread if you're eating it plain. Picks it right up.

Kristel said...

Great minds and all....I just ate at and reviewed China Islamic too!

I really enjoy your blog -- keep up the good work! :)