Northern Chinese Beef Roll Crawl with the Uncouth Gourmands
When the Uncouth Gourmands asked me to organize a food crawl for them, I simply told them, “Yes. March.”
This past Sunday, over 15 arrived ready to tackle on the Shandong beef roll. Or more commonly known as the Chinese beef roll. I called the crawl Northern Chinese to highlight Shandong province where the roll or sometimes called, pancake originated.
I knew this would be the right crawl when Carina from the UGs once told me how much she loved Chinese beef rolls. Jonathan Gold recommends 101 Express but with the wealth of the SGV before us, I knew I could easily locate at least 4 other joints to try.
One of my sources told me to investigate Doe Jon, a Taiwanese breakfast nook. Growing up, my Dad would often tell me that buns and rolls were a Northern Chinese thing. It might be surprising to those who generally think the Chinese eat only rice. Once, a guy told me Chinese food would be perfect if there were sandwiches. Well, I don’t know if a beef roll qualifies but Doe Jon’s beef roll sure looks like a sandwich.
In retrospect, Doe Jon’s beef roll was one of the weirdest one. It didn’t taste bad but I would return for their giant twisted crueller or what I call the Chinese donut, often eaten with porridge in Southern China but more commonly with soymilk in the North. The dumplings were pretty good as well.
Doe Jon Station
46 Las Tunas Dr
Arcadia, CA 91066
At 101 Express, I was prepared to love this roll as I do generally like Jonathan Gold’s sensibilities but my taste buds rejected this and I didn’t finish my piece. Everyone else loved it. For me, I don’t like sweet with my savory and I found the meat too sweet. It was a tremendous value though because it was enormous and $6.99. The plate above shows two rolls but it is only one order.
I did really enjoy the chewiness of the bread and wished I could get into the beef.
101 Express1025 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007
We headed to Mandarin Noodle Deli on Las Tunas for their beef roll. I grew up eating at Mandarin Deli but the Chinatown location. And my family’s order typically was one beef noodle soup, one porkchop noodles soup, an order of wor-teep (fried dumplings), an order of steamed dumplings and enough seaweed appetizer to keep me happy (though we generally got the three-choice appetizer which included seaweed, pig’s ear and tofu). We never ordered the beef roll.
I found Mandarin Deli’s version to be pretty good. In fact, it was my favorite beef of the day. But I wasn’t too thrilled with the wrapper or the crazy amount of green onions in it. From what I’ve read, Shandong province folks love their onions but really? Way, way, way too much. The beef seemed to be a different cut that what other restaurants were using. More tender. Probably braised a bit longer? In any case, we had major service issues so I won’t be returning to this location.
Mandarin Noodle Deli
9537 Las Tunas Drive
Temple City, CA 91780
At Michelle’s, they held some beef rolls for us as they were closing when we finally ready to head over there. They claim to be healthy for not using oil or MSG.
I wasn’t really digging how flat these were looking but I did like the fresh veggies in it. The beef was a bit on the drier side. I would return to check out their other stuffed pancakes. Who knew there’s more to life than beef rolls?
706 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Our final stop of the day was at King’s Cup located in the former location of Mama’s Kitchen. We noticed they still had a beef roll on their menu and so we decided to stay and try it out. It came out looking kind of crazy but it was surprisingly very good.
The wrapper was on the sweeter side. But while I didn’t like 101 Express’ beef roll because it was too sweet, I didn’t mind it at King’s Cup. Don’t ask me to analyze it. I just eat with these taste buds.
706 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Stayed tuned for my April crawl. I hope to crown a fish taco king (or queen)!