It is a rare, rare occasion when we head over to the Outer Sunset for a meal, not that I really have anything against restaurants in this part of town. In fact, I’m pretty confident that there is probably a decent selection of restaurants serving pretty reasonably-priced food of the Asian variety. In fact, one of the better Korean places in the city that the girls (Pcess, ElleC and MissMM) introduced me to was Toyose, and since eating there, I’ve been meaning to make an effort to try more places in the Outer Sunset. Unfortunately, distance is a big deterrent… and the Outer Sunset is just so darn far!
Anyways, Mr. and Mrs. CAsper organized a dinner of their foodie-loving friends and decided upon a restaurant in the Outer Sunset called Old Mandarin Islamic restaurant. Now for some of you that may find the concept of Mandarin Islamic food to be odd, it isn’t as strange as you might think. In fact, the Western region of China has a distinct Muslim population that specializes in Chinese Islamic food. I haven’t really tried this type of cuisine with the exception of my experience at Xi’an Famous Foods in NYC, but I don’t think that counts. So off we went to check it out.
We squeezed 10 people into the largest table they had and we left the ordering to Mr. CAsper. The focus of the evening was shabu shabu a.k.a. hot pot, so with a boiling pot in the center, we were prepared to dig in with our chopsticks, ladle and bowl of interesting sauce that tasted like a mix of garlic and peanuts.
Mr. CAsper ordered a variety of different things to cook in the hot pot including beef, lamb, fish and tripe. It was a little bit hard to distinguish the beef from the lamb in their raw state, but once cooked, I could tell right away. I don’t know… there is this distinct taste of lamb that I don’t like very much, but everything else tasted fine especially when dipped in the garlic-flavored sauce.
The shrimp was probably my favorite protein of the meal, not that it was necessarily better than your average shrimp, but it tasted very good with the dipping sauce.
Since the gamy taste was a little more subtle, the lamb short ribs were not so bad. The meat was quite tender, literally falling off the bone. I tried one rib and that was good for me.
My favorite dish of the night was probably the glass noodle salad. It reminded me of this dish that I had at Great China in Berkeley called Second Skin. Although I think the Second Skin dish was probably better, this dish used similar wider glass noodles. The dressing had a Chinese mustard flavor base which gave it an interesting tanginess. I helped myself to seconds of this dish.
Overall, the food was good (except for anything with lamb), and there was definitely plenty of it. It was amazing, because we were just cooking and eating a little bit along the way and before you knew it, I was absolutely stuffed. It was good time all around, and I always believe that dining in good company is always enjoyable.
Old Mandarin Islamic
3132 Vicente St.
San Francisco, CA 94116
PAFO Ratings for Old Mandarin Islamic:
Price 2½ stars
Ambiance 2 stars
Food 3 stars
Overall rating 3 stars