Thanks to the suggestions I received here, I visited a number of Northern Chinese restaurants recently and have the following to report:
1. Fatima Restaurant San Mateo
The dishes here were a hotch potch of popular americanised Chinese favorites. To my way of thinking they weren't particularly Northern in origin or preparation, except those involving lamb. The lamb soup and lamb with spring onions were definately the exception being very similar to those prepared in Beijing...and very tasty may I say!I was wondering why many Northern dishes and particularly famous Muslim dishes were not represented on the menu like La Mian, and yang rou bao. On further questioning I found out that that the owner and his family had migrated from Hebei to Taiwan in 1948 and so their food is more representative of the Taiwan style. Also despite being Muslims these people did not come from Xinjiang or Gansu originally and so were not really familiar with the seasonings commonly found in Muslim food in these areas.I would come back for the lamb...and the automated message as I departed..Bye Bye..Xie Xie Mei guo!
2. Shangdong Restaurant Oakland
The only thing that is authentically from Shandong on this restaurant's menu are the wheaten hand turned noodles. They are reasonably good but Im not sure whether they are worth a trip to Oakland. Still, if one has a craving for pork with salty vegetable and noodles this is a good place to get it. The rest of the menu has been significantly adapted for Cantonese consumption. I spoke to one of the owners family who told me they couldnt make any of the dishes I was interested in as the family has migrated many years ago and the knowledge of how to make restaurant quality Shandong cuisine (apart from noodles) had been lost.