One of my favorite close-to-home discoveries while researching the Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles was Omar’s Xinjiang Halal Restaurant in San Gabriel. The Islamic Uyghur cooking found here was seriously musky, a touch greasy, and undoubtedly satisfying. Jonathan Gold’s 2010 write up, “You’d Better Like Lamb,” informed our fantastic feast.
The food of Northwest China, which is predominantly Halal due to the Islamic population, draws influences from neighboring cuisines in every direction. Nearly half of the 22 items on the menu boasted lamb, so yes, you’d better like lamb if you’re knocking on Omar’s door. The Astronomer and I dined here with our friend Diep and proceeded to order up a musky storm.
We began with the “Xinjiang Homemade Yogurt” ($3), which is listed under the beverages section of the menu. The yogurt’s luscious texture and tangy profile was most excellent, but more fitting of a light dessert than an actual drink.
Since the yogurt was too thick to quench our thirst, we ordered the “Xinjiang Milk Tea” ($2.95) to fill the beverage vacancy. Salty, hot, and served in a bowl with three soup spoons, the milk had a soothing quality about it but didn’t quite fit the bill either. Hot tea or San Gabriel tap is probably the way to go next time around.
My favorite dish at Omar’s is the shou la mian ($12.99), ropey hand-pulled noodles with an unbeatable bite—toothsome to the 10th power. A chili oil-spiked stir-fry of lamb slivers and vegetables (bell peppers, celery, and cabbage) was poured atop the platter a la minute.
It was hard to say where these strands started and stopped, so we reached for the well-worn pair of kitchen shears that was served alongside to keep things neat and slurpable.
Diep was intrigued by the quirkily named “Haggis Soup” ($10.99) and could not resist ordering a serving. The bewitching brew of entrails certainly warmed the belly, but it didn’t win any hearts this evening.
Another one of Omar’s essential offerings was the “Meat Pie” ($12.99), a lamb- and carrot-stuffed deep-fried Frisbee that tasted even better drizzled in chili oil. This dish was reminiscent of the staples of Northern China.
The “Cumin Lamb Rib” ($14.99) came highly recommended by our waitress. The deep-fried, bone-in lamb nuggets, which came dusted in chili powder, cumin, and salt, had the texture of jerky in the very best way.
If you love noodles with bite and meat pies that delight, then you’d better find your way to Omar’s Xinjiang Halal Restaurant.
Omar’s Xinjiang Halal Restaurant
1718 New Avenue
San Gabriel, CA 91776
There’s more to eat in San Gabriel on Gastronomy:
- Bánh Mì & Chè Cali – San Gabriel
- Chung King Restaurant – San Gabriel
- Cơm Tấm Thuận Kiều – San Gabriel
- Ducks Restaurant – San Gabriel
- Golden Deli – San Gabriel
- Kingburg Kitchen – San Gabriel
- Lucky Noodle King – San Gabriel
- Luscious Dumplings Inc. – San Gabriel
- Nha Trang – San Gabriel
- Phở Nguyễn Hoàng – San Gabriel
- Saigon’s Bakery & Sandwiches – San Gabriel / San Jose
- Sweethome Grill – San Gabriel
- Ton Chan Ramen – San Gabriel
- Vietnam House – San Gabriel
- Vietnam Restaurant – San Gabriel
- Wedding Banquet Redux at New Capital Seafood
- Yum Cha Cafe – San Gabriel