Sunday, January 22, 2012
Luscious Lamb "Fried with Meat" at Beijing Restaurant
I've been meaning to write up Beijing Restaurant for a while as it's one of my new favorite destinations in the San Gabriel Valley. Occupying the second floor of a strip mall on Valley Boulevard just west of Del Mar Street in San Gabriel, Beijing is a momentous house of bold flavors.
The menu has some similarities with the Northern Chinese restaurants in the SGV, which makes sense geographically. It includes a fair amount of offal and lots of lamb dishes, but the spicing here seems much more aggressive than the relatively mild north/northwestern Chinese style restaurants. I should note that English used on the menu here is pretty unhelpful (even by SGV standards), but it does have pictures which are helpful.
I have to start with these little sandwiches pictured above, because they were just phenomenal. The one on the left is lamb in a sesame-wheat bun. The lamb is crisply fried on the outside, fall apart soft in the middle. It's like lamb carnitas. The fat from the lamb soaks into the soft bun making for a huge flavor bomb. This thing was just amazingly good. The menu name for this dish is "Fried with Meat."
The sandwich on the right was similar but with pork, including lots of little fat globules, cilantro and chilis on a white bun. On the menu, this one is "Pork with Cooked Pie."
Another excellent dish was "Lamb Pot" which was a lamb stir fry brimming with whole fried cumin seeds, which gave it a huge flavor punch of gamy lamb and cumin. We also had a lamb noodle soup with a thick, rich broth, tender lamb slices, cilantro and noodles.
Among the non-lamb dishes, sauteed green beans were great, full of garlic and chili. Fried pork dumplings were the size and shape of blintzes and bursting with juice almost like xiao long bao. Lamb dumplings were similar though less juicy and much more gamy. I preferred the pork fried dumplings.
Also very good was the dish called "Out of a Pot," which consisted of braised beef, green beans, potatoes, cellophane noodles and large, flat noodles, all served "out of a pot" with a thick, rich braising sauce. This was a real stick to your ribs dish with great flavor, especially when you dug down into the center of the pot where the braising liquid pooled with the noodles and potatoes.
Another good noodle dish is Fried Ge Da, tiny, pan fried rice cakes with carrots, zucchini and plenty of garlic and ginger. I didn't care as much for the menu item described as "Chinese Pizza," a corn meal crust with scallions. The scallions were fine, but the crust was stiff and bland.
This is a great place and the "Lamb Pot" and "Fried with Meat" lamb sandwiches are quickly becoming two of my favorite dishes anywhere.
250 W. Valley Blvd., #B2
San Gabriel, CA 91776