OK. So last night went to eat at Homestyle Restaurant. In the mall at 310 W. Valley, in San Gabriel, next to Meilong Village.
The owner is from Shenyang (Fengtian/Mukden) in Liaoning province, in Manchuria. The food is typical, rustic local versions of Shandong cuisine, with variations as you would find in most of Northern China (Huabei).
We add two orders of what on the menu was called CornBao, one stuffed one whole. The whole one was basically a steamed polenta-like corn meal bread about the size of a nerf football. OK. The stuffed one, stuffed with meat (i believe shredded pork) and suan-tsai, basically a Chinese sauerkraut (similar to Tianjin DongCai, winter cabbage, not too much like the Szechwan pickled mustard) was very good.
There was a large variety of dumplings, we got the boiled ones with lamb meat. I liked it.
There are skewers of lamb meat (yang rou zhuan) available. This are chewy, rare meat with a singed crust and a strong rub of powdered hot pepper, cumin and garlic. WE got an order, was fun, not as good as the skewers of lamb I remembered from Beijing but those were done differently, I believe the lamb was first soaked in yoghurt - and this is decidedly more rustic food.
The cold dishes were great. Since we made a pretty big order, we got a plate of the usual sea weed salad (hai dai) but here there were bits of long sliced celery. Great contrast of tastes and textures. A plate of marinated cucumbers was way better than average, good light vinegar, tons of minced garlic and the cucumbers cut beautifully. Very refreshing.
Highlight of the cold dishes (and for one of us, of the evening) was the cold garlic eggplant dish. Light skinned Chinese eggplant, sliced and steamed and rubbed (before, during after? steaming) and then slathered with minced garlic and a light sauce. Fantastic and a good accompaniment to the Heinekin (no qingdao on site).
One so so, they had a type of bread, not like a shaobing and not like the bread at the muslim restaurants - imagine the congyoubing, the scallion cake but not as crisp and no scallions. No this is made a bit larger than the scallion pancake, cut into segments and served with a variety of fillings. The fillings, meat (jing dong rou), smoked meat (xun rou), salted fish, etc (you get one choice per order) come on a bed of shredded scallions as you would get with peking duck and with a small bowl of a bean sauce. You open up the bread, place a bit of meat and a bit of the scallion that you've dredged in the sauce into the bread. More fun to make, so so to eat. The smoked meat was so lightly smoked that it didn't make much of an impression.
Also, for new years, we got a bowl of noodles with beef and beef tendon, mixed and soup - (hong shao niu rou/niu jin mian). Very nice. We got most things a bit spicy but were asked on quite a few items if we wanted them piquant/spicy.
To be fair, one of our party speaks mandarin so that may have helped with ordering.
Dessert elsewhere in the mall- see Boba is so yesterday post.