HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

You, Me and Ugyhur: Omar's Xinjiang Halal (SGV, Pics/Review)

  • o

Omar's occupies the old Mama's Kitchen on New Ave., just below Valley. I was sad to see the ownership change if only because Mama's Kitchen had been there FOR YEARS and I always thought their "Da La" beef noodle soup was one of the best in the area (I've since switched allegiances to Tasty Noodle but that's neither here nor there). I was curious to see what new place took it over and was very pleasantly surprised to see that they now specialize in Xinjiang-style cuisine.

Xinjiang is a massive province in the northwest part of China and thus is more Muslim-influenced than many other parts of the country. The best known (though not only) ethnic group from that area are the Uyghur and Omar's is run by a female Uyghur chef who - call me crazy - reminds me a lot of Amy Hill. Anyways...

Out here in the SGV, the venerable China Islamic includes some Xinjiang dishes but from what I understand, their menu isn't really defined/dominated by that region. Likewise, I've noted that JTYH over in Rosemead has a few Xinjiang dishes too, namely their hand-pulled noodles and an impressively spicy version of "lamb with cumin" though it's very different from what Omar's serves (I'll come back to this later).

Omar's seems intent on being this region's Xinjing/Ugyhur spot and while I'm hardly a native informant as to how well they accomplish this, based on my first meal there, I'm quite excited at seeing what they're bringing to the table.

I went with a party of 5 - my parents (who've eaten a good deal of Xinjiang cuisine having lived in Shanghai for several years), my wife and my daughter. We ordered 5 dishes and they arrived in this order:

1) Lamb with cumin: http://poplicks.com/wp-content/upload...

At JTYH, these are served as very lean ribs, fried with not just cumin but covered in those tongue-numbing Sichuan peppers. At Omar's, they seem more deep-fried, are far bigger (more like pork rib size) and are very liberally doused in both cumin and salt. Personally, I felt like they needed to go easy on the salt. I like salty and I found this way too salty. But then again, it was deep-fried lamb ribs so it was tasty, regardless. Good but not great. Dial down the salt and I think you have a pretty good starter dish. I'd be tempted to get this a second time but more likely, I'd try something new.

2) Hand-pulled noodles: http://poplicks.com/wp-content/upload...

I love noodles and I love lahmein (hand-pulled noodles) especially: they're long, thick, with great bite. And while this dish doesn't look like much aesthetically, the flavors were fantastic. The noodles are cooked separately and then topped with a stir-fry of lamb, onions, red peppers, green peppers and celery and there's a very fresh snap to the flavor from the vegetables that go great with the noodles. Because the noodles are long - forearm long - they can be a bit awkward to eat but to me, it was well-worth the trouble. Would definitely order again.

Suggestion: one of their signature plates that we didn't order but did see is their "Big Plate of Chicken" (actual name) and as the name suggests, it's a big plate of chicken, served a top lahmein. Next time, I would order this for certain, especially with a large group of people. Seems like the best of both worlds though not having actually tried the chicken itself, I can't say how well that's cooked. Looked great though.

3) Meatloaf Sandwiches: http://poplicks.com/wp-content/upload...

It's basically a ground-beef meat pie, served very hot out of a fry pan. Texture-wise, especially with the juices of the beef soaking into the crust, it reminded me of pan-fried bao (shengjian bao) but these are more awkward to eat since the crust loses its tensile strength as they become soggy (which happens very quickly) and so you end up having to break it apart on your plate and then eaten as pieces. Flavor-wise, this was good, but really wasn't anything to write home about. Would not order on a second trip.

4) Cucumber with garlic: http://poplicks.com/wp-content/upload...

If you like veggies...don't come here. There is a stunning lack of vegetable dishes on the menu (I have no problems with this whatsoever but I know others who might) and so we ordered this standard cold cucumber dish just to add some green to our dinner. Good but you can also get this pretty much everywhere in the area.

5) Xinjiang Zhuafan: http://poplicks.com/wp-content/upload...

I was curious what this was so were ordered it: it's less like a fried rice dish and a lot more like a Xinjiang take on paella: a subtly fat-infused rice plate with bits of vegetables and topped with sliced lamb. I enjoyed this a lot: it was pleasantly unctuous but didn't feel heavy or overly rich. I do think it would have been better if we had also ordered a dedicated lamb dish to go with it - the rice, by itself was good, but it would have worked better as a side dish than a standalone entree. I would absolutely order this again though.

Random observations: They could use bigger plates and a rice bowl would be great. Service was good though they only seemed to have one person staffing the tables. Luckily, it's a small space in there and almost all the tables were taken by the time we left; word has clearly gotten out.

Price-wise, most of the entrees were between $10-13 and our total bill for all five dishes was $60, not including tip. That surprised me - normally, for that number of plates, I'm used to Chinese meals running about 20% less but it's not like the bill was exorbitant either.

Alas, that's it. There were many other menu items I was curious about and I probably should not have let my parents order everything since they played it more conservative than I would have gone but hey, that just means it's worth going again. I encourage the SGV Chowhounders to make a trip and also report back; I love these regional Chinese places for the new dishes to bring this area's greater culinary diversity.

Omar's Xinjiang Halal Restaurant
1719 New Ave. San Gabriel

-----
Omar's Xinjiang Halal Restaurant
1719 N New Ave, San Gabriel, CA 91776

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. This place is really overpriced.

    I dunno how long you can hang around SGV when you are charging $14 for a plate of noodles (even if they are hand-pulled). No one does that in SGV (west or east).

    Even the noodles (hand made) at China Islamic top out $9.

    1. Well, when MaMa's Kitchen moved around the corner, a new place, King's Cup opened up at the old location earlier this year, so you're telling me it only took a few months for them to close shop. You may not know it, but the opening of a Uighur restaurant here is national news, as Hounds on both coasts have been desperately searching for a source of that cuisine. There is a place that serves Uighur food in the Russian part of Brooklyn, and apparently that's it, despite a representative Uighur population in the Washington D.C. area and on the east coast. I once ate at a Uighur restaurant in Montreal, but that recently closed down, so it's great to have this alternative.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Chandavkl

        Only opened for about 2 months.

        I've always felt that King's Cup made a very underrated and underappreciated beef roll.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          If King's Cup made an underrated beef roll, you should have told us. The only mention of King's Cup here at Chow was when Chandavkl made a visit on opening day back in January and they were having some first day struggles. No one ever reported back on more of the menu.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              All is forgiven. With all your great efforts here, I can overlook it :-)

              As much as you've covered in the SGV, I don't know how you manage to inform us of as much as you do...but I'm thankful for it.

        2. re: Chandavkl

          Yeah, King's Cup had a super short life there; I didn't even bother to mention it for that reason. Didn't realize Mama's Kitchen moved around the corner.

          I agree that the prices felt high, at least relative to portion size. The quality of the food was good but not notably higher than other spots. That said, I'll give this some run just for the diff in cuisine

          -----
          Mama's Kitchen
          1718 New Ave, San Gabriel, CA 91776

        3. thanks for the review, seems interesting but not sure if I want to pay that much per entree for Chinese. Not that I wouldn't pay more in any other type of cuisine but this is the SGV though and in this kind of economy most restaurants are slashing prices.

          1. what is this JTYH you speak of? and by the way, might you answer my question in this thread, since it is one of my ongoing pressing concerns -- the best lamb with cumin ever?

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/361306

            11 Replies
            1. re: echoparkdirt

              JTYH Restaurant is the new incarnation of the now closed Heavy Noodling. Known for Shanxi knife-cut noodles and more, it's a gem! Mooshu “Cat Ears” Noodles are worth considering here as well.

              -----
              JTYH Restaurant
              9425 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

              1. re: sel

                I respectfully second sel's recs. And the cumin lamb dish we had here was very heavy on whole roasted cumin, chiles (dried and fresh) and finished off with green onion. The lamb itself tends to be kinda gamey and chewy, and there's a fair amount of oil (maybe from the lamb fat?), and the dish can give a jolt reminiscent of strong 3-alarm coffee because of its generous spicing. The cumin will snap your head back. I think if JTYH would use a better quality lamb and maybe pan-fry their noodles with them, I'd go back again and again. But I have to wonder if this type of dish is of very humble roots? My guess would be that JTYH's version is probably pretty standard back in the homeland.

                A few other dishes that I'd rec there are the pan-fried bao, the garlic cucumbers and the panfried onion cakes.

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  Nothing beats the ice noodles at JYTH.

                  A bowl of iced noodles and a plate of pig's ears, and I'm a happy duck!

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Never had the ice noodles.... I'll have to try them

                    But I have to say, I've generally been underwhelmed with JYTH's entrees. The noodles are well made, the prices are absurdly low, but their dishes are extremely under seasoned. I want to love their xin jian bao, especially when $5-6 buys you enough to feed 3 people. But they're just.... so.... bland. Same with the pan fried noodles. Noodles are great, but bland bland bland. I do like the cold dish appetizers, and their lamb with cumin is flavorful. But I've been disappointed with virtually everything else. Yet I return time and time again, for the cumin lamb, cold dishes and the cheap prices.

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      Tastebuds and preferences are obviously different.

                      I think most of the dishes are properly seasoned, but some of the pickled dishes sometimes lack a bit of punch, esp. with marinaded seaweed and cucumbers.

                      But if you find the food bland, why not just help yourself to some of the black vinegar or chili sauce that adorns each table?

                      RE: Ice noodles ... Ever had Korean naeng myun? Essentially the same thing, if not the exact same thing.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        >> why not just help yourself to some of the black vinegar or chili sauce that adorns each table?

                        This goes without saying!

                        I almost always order the dough slice chow mien because I'm in love with the texture, but the flavor leaves me hanging high and dry. The problem is that I prefer my noodles to taste of more than 93% vinegar and chili paste.

                        What about the xin jian bao? I've yet to find some that I really, really like.... shau mei/kang kang's are oddly sweet, jyth's are bland.... hm, I can't remember where else I've tried them outside of Taiwan. Did I have them at Noodle House in RH? Can't remember... would love some recs for really delicious ones.

                        As for the comparison of cold noodles to naengmyun, that's of course my (only) frame of reference for iced noodles (aside from the occasional noodley konnyaku salad) so that's a helpful comparison. I'll have to give it a shot.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Well, the key is to use the vinegar and chili paste judiciously -- to heighten, not overpower.

                          RE: xin jian bao. Try either Mama's Lu or Dean Sin World. Usu. I make xin jian bao at home, but you might as well check out if Omar's has them, you know, the original point of this thred ...

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            >> Well, the key is to use the vinegar and chili paste judiciously -- to heighten, not overpower.

                            yes but to my palate the flavor profile is so minimal as to not be relevant. Any addition of strongly flavored condiments, even added judiciously, immediately overpowers and replaces the flavor.

                            Mr Taster

                          2. re: Mr Taster

                            My problem with xin jiam bao in the sgv is that I've been too spoiled by the Shangahi versions. Nothing I've had here is remotely on the same level in terms of basic execution; i've simply given up on the dish state-side.

                      2. re: ipsedixit

                        Alas, I tried this finally and was left disappointed. Compared to the similar dish I've had in K-Town spots, I found that JYTH's had two shortcomings:

                        1) It wasn't that cold. I want my ice noodles icy-cold, not "sort of cool".
                        2) Their noodles were all clumped together, which meant that, in trying to eat them, you're cramming mouthfuls of noodles at a time since it's very hard to stream them off in a more manageable portions. I've had this happen in a few Korean places but the better ones I've been to, the noodles aren't as stuck together, let alone clumped in a big ball.

                      3. re: bulavinaka

                        I can't rec the boa: looks great, tastes dull. Lamb noodle soup there is awesome though.

                        How are the iced noodles prepared? Never knew they had those.

                  2. Looks interesting, but I would agree with ipsedixit: it's quite pricey for the area. It may not survive long in its present form and pricing.

                    1. Had the hand made noodles and the meatloaf sandwiches and both were very good. The two foot long noodles may have been the best I've eaten. The meatloaf sandwich was reminiscent of some of the bread dishes you see at the Islamic Chinese restaurants and I actually would have been very happy to eat the bread without the filling, it's that good. Food definitely is pricey, and perhaps as the only Uighur restaurant in the United States they might be entitled to charge that much. Certainly wouldn't stop me from going back, but I wouldn't go as often either. It will be interesting to see how this pricing plays out in the highly competitive SGV market.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        Do you (or anyone else) know the Uighur population in SoCal?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          To my knowledge there's no local Uighur association (the only one is in DC) so it can't be that extensive. I guess you're raising the question of how large the population base has to be for an ethnic restaurant to survive. Montreal once had two Uighur restaurants (not sure if one is still open) with a local Uighur population of about 200. I found an authentic Chinese restaurant in Milwaukee a few years ago and asked the owner what the local population was and he said about 150.

                          1. re: Chandavkl

                            Yes, that was the point of my question.

                            The problem with Xinjian cuisine is that it is not based on religious or dietary restrictions (like Chinese Islamic cuisine), so you don't really have a captive audience. Even died-in-the-wool Uighurs do not *have* to eat their own cuisine if it is priced inordinately high, esp. when there are readily available substitutes from various Chinese restaurants.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I agree. If they want to succeed, they need many non-Uighur customers. It's possible, but they need to work on getting noticed, which is not easy for any Chinese restaurant in the SGV. When a restaurant opens, it will often have many patrons just because of curiosity. But curiosity won't sustain a restaurant.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                What exactly are the mainstays of Uighur cuisine? Just curious to see which regional dishes have become commonplace.

                                1. re: odub

                                  I'm no expert, but generally speaking Xinjian cuisine is characterized by it's heavy use of mutton -- roasted in kebab form, or as filling for dumplings -- and of course their noodle dishes with handmade noodles.

                                  You can get a variety of similar mutton dishes from Chinese Islamic restaurants (like China Islamic), Feng Mao, and various Huananese restaurants in SGV (like Hunan restaurant).

                                  And of course, hand made or hand pulled are common and widespread throughout SGV.

                                  Granted, none is a perfect replication of Xinjian cuisine or dishes, but they are reasonable facsimiles. It's like you can't get the perfect Cincinnati Chili here in SoCal (so says Midwesteners), but you can certainly get similar creations.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Mutton, most certainly yes. Sadly we did not make it to Xinjiang during our 2006 trek through Asia (although central Asia is high on our future travel priority list). We did eat at the Red Rose Xinjiang restaurant in Beijing (considering the politics, this of course is not necessarily a hallmark of authenticity.) About the only thing I remember from the experience was a Fred Flintstone brontosaurus-like leg of lamb.

                                    Yes, I was hamming up the photo. I don't really eat like that.

                                    Mr Taster

                                     
                                     
                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      Nice picture. One person I knew from Xinjiang told me that if I ever go there, I should not eat to the point that I'm completely full. He said that traditionally, the host would pick out the largest chunk of meat and say something like, "Prove it by eating this." Unfortunately, I never had the chance to determine if this was true or if he was just pulling my leg.

                                  2. re: odub

                                    I was wondering the same thing since their menu refers to Uighur/Xinjiang dishes without distinguishing which is which. When I ate at the presumably pure Uighur restaurant in Montreal we had lots of hand made noodle dishes and also beef dumplings. I noticed Omar has beef dumplings on the menu, so the noodles and dumplings are probably at the core of the cuisine. There's a website that lists North American restaurants that serve Uighur food, one in Montreal and three in the outer boroughs of New York City. (I think there may also be one in Vancouver, and there used to be one in Flushing but supposedly the chef went back home.) The New York restaurants are actually Russian restaurants that serve some Uighur dishes. There have also been requests for Uighur food on some of the other regional boards and the advice has been to look for restaurants that serve Central Asian food. This leads me to believe that a lot of Uighur food has not made its way into Chinese cuisine.

                            2. re: Chandavkl

                              When I went, the place was almost full and this is sans any major attention on the normal food circuits; yelp had only one review and nada on here. The pricing isn't attractive but I'm not convinced it's a deal breaker yet.

                              1. We had a delightful time at this resturant! L A Times had recently had a large article about Uyghur. My lunch mate is from Afghanistan and it was exciting to hear the music, see the decor and appreciate the menu! There were some changes on the offering for the day and we still had a great choice of food for our meal! I encourage any of you who want an dining experience to support this new resturant and Omar!

                                -----
                                Omar's Xinjiang Halal Restaurant
                                1719 N New Ave, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                1. Had an interesting experience here. I've been a big fan of Xinjiang food since I spent a summer in Beijing in 1993. I've been hoping to find a Xinjiang restaurant in the US since then. Have been to a few restaurants billed as selling Xinjiang food, but was always disappointed. We went on New Year's Eve, and this one looked promising. The hand pulled noodles were great, and had an authentic Xinjiang taste, with bits of lamb and spice. The garlic cucumbers were good too. The lamb noodle soup was good. The lamb skewers were good, but not as good as at Feng Mao Mutton Kebab. I didn't like their cumin lamb at all - it look like it was boiled rather than stir fried.

                                  The dishes we really wanted to try were sold out - the rice pilaf (only available Fridays and weekends) and the big plate chicken. We saw another table with the big plate chicken, and it looked terrific, with lots of spices and big, flat noodles.

                                  The next day (New Year's Day), we decided to give it another shot for lunch before driving back to the Bay Area. We called and asked if they had these dishes. They said that they were busy, but they had plenty of food, including the dishes we wanted. We drive over there, arriving less than 30 minutes after we'd made the call, and they were not only sold out of the two dishes we'd wanted, they were sold out of everything! My wife Jing is Chinese and spoke to the waitress in Mandarin, so it was not a language misunderstanding. This was very upsetting and a big disappointment,

                                  I like Xinjiang food so much, and the restaurant was promising enough that I'd give them another chance next time I'm in LA, but it may be difficult to convince Jing.

                                  -----
                                  Feng Mao Mutton Kebab
                                  3901 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                                  18 Replies
                                  1. re: Martin Strell

                                    Sounds like one needs to order in advance (like Peking Duck) to get the dishes you really want to try.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      They did not offer "order-in-advance" as an option to us. I believe they are cash only, so that may be tough to do, I'd be curious to hear if anyone has tried this.

                                      If there's a next time, I think our strategy will be to go for lunch and get there as soon as they open.

                                    2. re: Martin Strell

                                      I think it's pretty unreasonable to expect a restaurant to have a particular dish, even when you call ahead and ask if it's available. Knowing how many tables will order a particular dish at any time is pretty hard to gauge, esp. for a small family run operation like Omar's.

                                      Ever go to Luscious Dumplings? If you call, and they are open, they will inevitably say they have dumplings. You show up and, lo and behold, the masses got there just before you and they are out of dumplings for the lunch rush.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        I guess there are different expectations of reasonableness, so I'll just state the facts.
                                        We called ahead to ask about the availability of two dishes we wanted to try. They told us they had these dishes and gave no indication of running low or our need to get there quickly, though they told us we were busy and we may need to wait for a table. We got there less than 1/2 hour later, and not only were they sold out of both these two dishes, they had NO FOOD at all and turned us away.

                                        It was New Years Day, so perhaps this experience is not typical, and I'll leave it to others to judge whether or not it is reasonable.

                                        My take away is that if you want to try this restaurant, get there early and be prepared to be disappointed, even if you call ahead. I'd also say that the hand pulled noodle dish we had when we went for dinner was so good, that it's worth the trouble.

                                        1. re: Martin Strell

                                          Unless they reserved the dishes for you, or allowed you to reserve in advance, it is unreasonable to expect the dishes to be there when you arrive.

                                          Because what if a customer called and inquired, but later changed her mind and never showed?

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            I hope this is the last on the topic, but the surprise was not only that they did not have these two dishes, but that they were entirely out of food. I'm from out-of-town, and perhaps this is more common in the LA area, but I've never before arrived at a restaurant to find them completely out of food, not counting food carts/stalls with an explicit "we're open till we sell out" policy. This would have surprised me even if I had not phoned ahead, but, yes, the fact that we'd called them less than 1/2 hour earlier made this even more surprising to me, perhaps unreasonably so.

                                            In any event, the point isn't so much whether this is reasonable or not but rather information that I hope may be useful to anyone planning on going to this restaurant. I encourage people to go. At least some of the food is fantastic. But this may require more planning and luck than at other restaurants.

                                            1. re: Martin Strell

                                              I once had a meeting in Las Vegas, but detoured through Palm Springs to try the only authentic Chinese restaurant in that part of the world. (Look at a map--that's quite a loooong detour.) Who knew that Wednesday was their day to be closed? So I certainly feel your pain in driving a long way to end up with nothing. Just chalk it up tothe price of being a Chowhound, and given the scarcity of the cuisine involved, try Omar again (but not between 3pm and 5pm when they're closed.)

                                              -----
                                              Las Vegas Bar
                                              2343 S Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92704

                                              1. re: Chandavkl

                                                I see your point, but how would you feel if you had called them just before you left just to make sure and they assured you they were open? I think the situation is a little different.

                                                Anyway, I will try Omar again. Certainly not between 3 and 5. Not on Tuesdays (they're closed). Not on New Years day or other holiday. Probably not for dinner. And probably not after 1:00 on a day they're open for lunch. And not without calling ahead. As ipsedixit makes clear, none of this is a guarantee of anything, but I think it will increase my chances.

                                                1. re: Martin Strell

                                                  I have to agree with ipsedixit. I'm married to a lovely Taiwanese woman and we've spent several months in both China and Taiwan, and the San Gabriel Valley restaurant scene is authentically Chinese, both in food and attitude, which is to say that one shouldn't go to either China or SGV with a western style expectation of service. We had multiple experiences in China (not just with restaurants) where, in an attempt to be helpful (or, perhaps it was in order not to lose face-- we never were able to figure this out), people repeatedly and reliably told us false things, or things they really had no personal knowledge of. As a result, we enter into to our interactions with SGV restaurants with low to no expectations for service, and we're rarely disappointed-- even on those occasions where the restaurant is out of a signature dish.

                                                  I too had an experience where I was desperately trying to track down an order of Beijing mustard cabbage, which was a highlight of our 3 weeks in Beijing. We finally found a restaurant willing to make it for us (it was an off-menu item at Beijing Restaurant at 250 W. Valley Blvd. in San Gabriel) and we returned to the restaurant twice to eat it when they said it would be available. It was not. Finally we coordinated our efforts with the owner, who made a special batch for us. Third time's the charm.

                                                  Anyway, I would say in your future visits to Omar (or any restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley), do your research with the LA Chowhounds, have a laundry list of items to try in each restaurant, and pick several of your favorites. That way if the're out of one or two, you'll still be fine. I'd save the phone reservations for a time only after you've been to the restaurant enough times that the owner knows you're serious about it.

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    "Beijing mustard cabbage . . . was an off-menu item at Beijing Restaurant"

                                                    -------------

                                                    Is it no longer available on or off menu?

                                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                                      After several visits and negotiations with the owner, we finally convinced them to make a special batch for us.

                                                      Like at all the other Beijing restaurants where we inquired, they said they used to have it on the menu, but it was pulled due to lack of customer demand.

                                                      Here's the details of my search...
                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5081...

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                    2. re: Mr Taster

                                                      Thanks for the advice and the offer of help from the LA Hounds. I will take this up next time I'm in the area.

                                                      As far as "western style expectation," Jing is Tianjinren and lived in China until she was 27, so I wouldn't really say we were judging by western standards.

                                                      I'm also not accusing anyone of lying to us. The restaurant is very busy and seems to have only one waitress. I think she was probably just too busy to check carefully for us. Yes, it's understandable, but I think our being a bit irritated is a legitimate reaction.

                                                      I hope I'm not getting too far off topic, but I recently traveled to China after a long absence. Many things have changed, not all for the better. But the service we had in restaurants, both at mom and pops and upscale places, was generally very good. There is a great deal of competition in China these days, and people want your business. People want to be treated well in China just as much as they want to here.

                                                      I think the consensus here is that we should cut this restaurant some slack. Point taken. But I'm not sure I'd agree with the notion that poor service and authenticity necessarily go hand in hand.

                                                      1. re: Martin Strell

                                                        I was careful not to use the "L" word, because we never got the impression that people I'm referring to were being maliciously deceptive. And I'm not saying that our service experiences in China were universally poor, either. However, we had enough of these "misinformation" experiences that we were forced to temper our expectations for all of our interactions (this was in 2006) or risk disappointment (or at least inconvenience) so we adapted pretty quickly.

                                                        Not sure how long Jing has been in the US, but I have definitely found (for better or for worse!) that my wife's expectations have become distinctly more western in the seven years that she's been in the US, so perhaps that is a factor as well.

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                2. re: Martin Strell

                                                  There are a few restaurants in the SGV that are known to just close up when they're "sold out" or, obviously, not offer a particular item they are out of. Luscious Dumplings comes to mind. Anyone have any other examples of "get it while they have 'em?"

                                                  -----
                                                  Luscious Dumplings
                                                  704 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                                  1. re: JThur01

                                                    Anyone have any other examples of "get it while they have 'em?"

                                                    ______________________________

                                                    Just about any Hong Kong or Taiwanese style bakery, e.g. JJ, Diamond, etc.

                                                    Any Taiwanese breakfast joint, e.g. Four Seas, Huge Tree Pastry, etc.

                                                    Fresh seafood (in the tank) at Cantonese restaurants, e.g. Sea Harbour, Elite, etc.

                                                    Select offal items and certain piggy parts (e.g. pig knuckle, ears, etc.) at Cozy Cafe.

                                                    -----
                                                    Four Sea Restaurant
                                                    2020 S Hacienda Blvd, Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

                                                    Huge Tree Pastry
                                                    423 N Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA 91754

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Thanks ipsedixit. I should have recalled tales of those, but had no personal experiences to go by.

                                              2. re: Martin Strell

                                                Okay, so we were in LA again almost exactly a year later, and we decided to give them another shot. We went for lunch on the Monday after Christmas and got there shortly after they opened. This time, they had everything we wanted, except the rice pilaf, which they said is only available on weekends. I enjoyed the big plate chicken very much for the sauce and the wide, hand cut noodles, though perhaps not as much for the chicken itself. Make sure to order the noodles with the chicken. Jing spoke to the owner/cook a bit, and she seems a bit temperamental and stressed. She'd mentioned that she'd closed early the day before because it got too busy and she was overwhelmed. (I suspect this is similar to what had happened to us the year prior). We were able to get the lamb kebabs, but some people who arrived shortly after we did were told they were out. I enjoyed the food a lot (again). It seems like arriving early is the best strategy for getting the dishes you want here.

                                                1. re: Martin Strell

                                                  We went again last Sunday for lunch. They seem to have settled in nicely. No problems with running out of dishes or anything. Food was all good, if not outstanding. They had a special spicy lamb hocks dish which was very good, though the texture was a bit weird for me. Glad I didn't give up on this place.