Old Mandarin Islamic Review
Last night I went to Old Mandarin Islamic with a group of discriminating diners.
-Cucumber with bean curd
-Tofu with double mushrooms
-Stirred flour balls with vegetables
-Fish (hopefully someone will chime in with specifics on which dish we ordered)
-Peking beef pancake
-West Lake lamb dumplings
-Stirred vegetables with beans
As far as favorites, I enjoyed the cucumber with bean curd, stirred vegetables with beans, lamb dumplings and Peking beef pancake. The mild, cool cucumber dish was a nice counterpoint to the spicer, saucier dishes we ordered. I liked the vinegary kick of "stirred vegetables with beans"--stir-fried greens with green soy beans.
The star of the evening for me was the Peking beef pancake, which the waitress instructed us to eat immediately. She was right: I think everyone liked the crispy shells filled with a thin layer of ground beef, which reminded me of a Moroccan dish I've tried before. Unfortunately, it was cut into 6 pieces, so we had one lone leftover to fight over.
Sauces were not strengths--both the fish sauce and tofu sauce were too starchy and goopy. The Mongolian lamb was not memorable.
The flour balls, which were mixed with peas, carrots, and water chestnuts, didn't have an interesting flavor for me--the texture of the balls seemed a bit like a Chinese version of gnocchi. If I tried them again, I'd probably get them with meat, or perhaps order the mysterious "stirred flour balls with three flavors."
At the recommendation of an attendee who literally dripped sweat into the last hot pot he ordered, we opted to try a variety of other dishes instead. If I returned, probably I would try the medium spicy version of the hot pot.
Overall, I had a great time at OMI and would recommend eating family style with a group of people who are willing to explore different meat, fish and vegetable options. Probably I won't return soon, but only because there are too many SF restaurants on my list to try.
Mon. - Sun.:11:30 am-9:30 pmTue. & Thur.:5:30 pm-9:30 pm
3132 Vicente St San Francisco CA 94116-2739
Reservations accepted for large groups, but we didn't need one for a table of 5
Semi-blurry cameraphone pictures of the cucumber/tofu, tofu/mushroom and lamb dishes are attached.
I was one of the discriminating diners. I pretty much agree with everything pane wrote, but I'll add a few comments.
I liked the cucumber with bean curd, but I wished that the bean curd hadn't been crumbled up. I prefer it in slices or small pieces. But like pane, I liked the balance it provided to the table of food.
I thought the Mongolian lamb was good....it was the only spicy hot item we ordered. But I agree it was nothing special.
I didn't think the tofu w/ double mushrooms was that good. The sauce was too gloopy for me.
Stirred flour balls w/ vegetables. I enjoyed this, but like pane, I thought it lacked any interesting flavor. Maybe it would be better with meat. I really liked the texture of the flour balls, and I liked the contrast with the crunchy bits of water chestnut.
The fish was pretty boring. It was under the chef's specialties as "Sliced fish w/ _____." Some kind of sauce. It was swimming in the sauce, which was goopy, a bit sweet, and not very interesting. There were some veggies too. The pieces of fish themselves were good - freshness was there - it's just that the sauce was pretty disappointing.
Peking beef pancake was by far my favorite item. Freshly fried, delicious beef filling. Very good. The lamb dumplings were pretty good too....the lamb flavor was strong, and the dumplings were pretty delicate.
The stirred vegetables with beans was the most 'different' dish...the veggies seemed to be collard-green like, and were really tasty and slightly sour. The soybeans were a nice touch too.
Service was very quick, the place is nicely decorated. I would probably not go out there again, mainly because of the location (wicked far from where I live) and because nothing really was that amazing. It was good though, and I agree the hot pot might be worth a try.
The sun was about to set when we were leaving the restaurant at 8:15, so we went out to the beach to watch the sunset which was very beautiful. I guess this place is a good excuse to visit the beach.