Last night I went to Old Mandarin Islamic with a group of discriminating diners.
-Cucumber with bean curd
-Tofu with double mushrooms
-Stirred flour balls with vegetables
-Fish (hopefully someone will chime in with specifics on which dish we ordered)
-Peking beef pancake
-West Lake lamb dumplings
-Stirred vegetables with beans
As far as favorites, I enjoyed the cucumber with bean curd, stirred vegetables with beans, lamb dumplings and Peking beef pancake. The mild, cool cucumber dish was a nice counterpoint to the spicer, saucier dishes we ordered. I liked the vinegary kick of "stirred vegetables with beans"--stir-fried greens with green soy beans.
The star of the evening for me was the Peking beef pancake, which the waitress instructed us to eat immediately. She was right: I think everyone liked the crispy shells filled with a thin layer of ground beef, which reminded me of a Moroccan dish I've tried before. Unfortunately, it was cut into 6 pieces, so we had one lone leftover to fight over.
Sauces were not strengths--both the fish sauce and tofu sauce were too starchy and goopy. The Mongolian lamb was not memorable.
The flour balls, which were mixed with peas, carrots, and water chestnuts, didn't have an interesting flavor for me--the texture of the balls seemed a bit like a Chinese version of gnocchi. If I tried them again, I'd probably get them with meat, or perhaps order the mysterious "stirred flour balls with three flavors."
At the recommendation of an attendee who literally dripped sweat into the last hot pot he ordered, we opted to try a variety of other dishes instead. If I returned, probably I would try the medium spicy version of the hot pot.
Overall, I had a great time at OMI and would recommend eating family style with a group of people who are willing to explore different meat, fish and vegetable options. Probably I won't return soon, but only because there are too many SF restaurants on my list to try.
Mon. - Sun.:11:30 am-9:30 pmTue. & Thur.:5:30 pm-9:30 pm
3132 Vicente St San Francisco CA 94116-2739
Reservations accepted for large groups, but we didn't need one for a table of 5
Semi-blurry cameraphone pictures of the cucumber/tofu, tofu/mushroom and lamb dishes are attached.