I'd heard good things about Mas' Islamic restaurant. Located in of all places Anaheim, not exactly your hot bed of Chinese restaurants. But I'd been missing Muslim Chinese, not that the late Jamillah Garden in San Diego made out of this world food, but I'd had some good dishes there. The Missus and I have a soft spot for Islamic Chinese. When the Missus was going to school, She worked briefly at Tung Lai Shun, long gone, but not forgotten, as I think they served the best Chinese Islamic I've ever had. When the Missus and I were first dating, I still remember our wonderful meal at VIP Restaurant in Rowland Heights, which is still there, though I think they've gone through maybe half a dozen owners since then. That meal, featuring a humongous "Da Bing", as huge as a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, along with our first meal at ChungKing Restaurant (the original in Monterey Park) really stoked my interest in Regional and various ethnic Chinese Cuisines. So on a recent Holiday Monday, the Missus and I made a drive up to Anaheim, and the fairly odd location of Mas' Islamic, located on a rather industrial looking area of Orangethorpe Avenue.
As you can tell, on a pretty humble avenue, full of generic looking industrial malls and complexes, Mas' sure stands out. The interior is huge, comprised of several large "rooms". The restaurant, empty when we arrived, filled pretty quickly with the Monday lunch crowd, a mixed bag of Asians, and non-Asians. Most folks were ordering lunch specials....there was a whole lotta "orange chicken" going on. Between that, and the standard place setting.... which covers all bases, gave me a bit of a weird feeling.
Luckily, all the Servers spoke Mandarin, and among the Shrimp with Cashew Nuts, Kung Pao Chicken, and Mongolian Beef, we found items that represented Islamic Chinese food. Being a Halal establishment, Mas' is a "no oink" zone, so don't even be thinking about ordering something like Dong Po Rou.
First to arrive was the "Lamb Dough Sliced Chow Mein"($10.95) aka Dao Xiao Mian (刀削麵 - Knife cut, or knife shaved noodles), where noodles are shaved from a block of rolled dough. My photo doesn't do justice on the portion size... those spoons are actually large serving spoons. This could've fed an army!
From a noodle perspective, this was a pretty good job. The noodles weren't too thick and doughy like versions in San Diego (can you hear me Dumpling Inn?). No "wok hay" here, but the noodles had a decent al dente pull to them. The flavor was truly lacking, with only a hint of soy sauce flavor. Not much lamb in this either, egg was used to stretch the protein. The greyish pallor of the dish didn't do much to stimulate my appetite either. There was three meals of leftovers out of this dish, which had to be fixed up with a ton of soy sauce.
The Thin Sesame Bread ($9.95). I saw this thing, a large pizza sized bread being cut and placed on our platter.
This was pretty good, not too oily, tons of sesame seeds, decent light crustiness, but really short on scallions, leaving it on the bland side.
I'll say this much..... Sammy loved the leftovers!
By this time, we were used to the huge portions, so when our Lamb and Pickled Cabbage Soup (Suan Cai Yang Rou - $9.95) arrived in a huge cauldron we weren't too surprised.
I'm a big fan of Suan Cai Yang Rou, and eat it every chance I get. This however, was not very good. Instead of a nice pickled flavor, the broth had an intense, almost pure vinegar sour. It was so unpleasantly sour that my salivary glands are quivering in fear and shutting down as I look at the photos. The soup was big on regular Napa Cabbage, and short on Suan Cai (a simpled pickled made from Napa Cabbage that is reminiscent of Sauerkraut), so I'm wondering if they added vinegar to make it sour enough? We could only tolerate a few spoonfuls of the broth. We did take it home, but the next day, the soup was even more sour...... and we just couldn't bring ourselves to eat it, though I tried. This was not even close to my favorite version from Tianjin Bistro, and would even prefer Northern Chinese Restaurant's version to this.
One of the women who served us, was very nice. The others were pretty military-like and efficient. The portions here are humongous, and we could have fed 7-8 people with what we ordered. The food, however only made me miss Tung Lai Shun even more. I wonder how VIP is under their new(er) ownership.....maybe we'll just have to get back to China Islamic soon.