So, after years of reading about China Islamic (7727 Garvey Ave., (626) 288-4246) on this board, I finally dragged myself and a couple of buddies out to give it a try today for lunch. All-in-all, a delicious experience, for which, once again, I have the folks on this board to thank.
Left downtown at around 11:50, and got to the restaurant at around 12:05. (It's an easy, quick drive from downtown.) The place was about one quarter full when we arrived, and stayed relatively quiet during the hour or so we where there. Service was very friendly and attentive, with enough English to make communication reasonably easy.
Based on recommendations from the board, we (four of us) ordered:
Sesame Green Onion Bread -- an amazingly good, huge, portion of fresh baked flat bread (about 2 inches thick, and maybe a 12 inch round loaf). The bread was hot and soft, filled with green onions, with a nice, crisp crust, and the top packed with toasted sesame seeds. This was great for soaking up the various sauces and broths, and as a platform for the stir fried dishes. (I took the leftovers home and am looking forward to them reheated with melting butter.)
Hand Cut Beef Noodle Soup -- Wonderful! Chewy, irregular noodles, big chunks of falling apart stewed beef, and wilted greens in a dark brown broth, seasoned (I think) with anise and perhaps a bit of cinnamon. Really surprising and good flavors. Great stuff.
Lamb and Green Onion Stir Fry -- This dish was, really, unbelievably good with the sesame green onion bread. The lamb flavor is mild enough that it doesn't overwhelm the stir fry, and piled onto the crispy sesame bread, it is sublime.
Lamb Hot Pot -- Very dramatic, with big chunks of falling apart tender stewed lamb, creamy tofu, glass noodles, and cabbage/vegies in a great broth. A huge portion, btw, and perfect for dunking the sesame green onion bread.
Spicy Shrimp Stir Fried with Carrots and Chilies -- this was okay, but it was the one dish that didn't really bowl me over. Good, but not as good as the other dishes we tried. Still, you can't just eat beef and lamb, can you?
Anyway, if you've been to this place, you've probably now realize that our party of four ordered enough food for ten, which we made a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful effort to eat anyway. With tax and a 20% tip, the meal came to $68. Highly recommended, and I can't believe it took me so long to try. Thanks again hounds! (This city really is the bomb for food.)