- Thi Nguyen
I've managed to get out to Tung Lai Shun, the islamic chinese place in that big San Gabriel mall on Valley that keeps getting recommended, a few times, and I've loved it. The tea-duck was OK, but the dumplings were great, and the beef-with-leeks was fantastic. And the sesame-scallion bread...
Question is: the menu is huge-gigantic, what else shoudl I order?
I like this one better, it's on Garvey near New, called China Islamic at 7727 E Garvey Ave. in Rosemead. It's not as well-appointed as Tung Lai Shun but I think the food is as good if not better. At both places, try (besides the breads) the green bean skin noodles, all the lamb dishes (with scallions, jiangpao, as well as the stew/soups) and the cold dishes are very good, cold chicken with sesame sauce (Ban-ban ji or the variant they have) and the jellyfish I remember as being good. It's been a while.
At China Islamic during Ramadan you always see lots of Pakistanis or Indian Muslims breaking the fast (Iftar) in the eveniong.
I think Chinese Islamic on Garvey is tastier than Tung Lai Shun. No matter when I go though, it always seems as if the Middle Easterner contingent overpopulates the Chinese contingent in the dining room (ironic to me as it IS the San Gabriel Valley!).
The food speaks for itself. The sesame bread with scallions is a definite must-have with whatever you order. Gather a large group if you can, so you can try more (but get there early, as the smoked tea chicken may run out since it's such a popular item)! A staple winter dish is the lamb with pickled vegetable soup/casserole. Keeps your tummy nice and toasty on a cold night! Since I'm not a lamb lover myself, I've found the tofu vegetable soup/casserole to be a good alternative if you want something lighter.
The wait staff is overall pleasant, but when it gets busy (and it always does on the weekends), sometimes it's hard to flag someone down.
Oh yeah, the beef stew is only so-so. Can't compare it to mom's.