Muslim Lamb Chop ($21.95)
A rack of fatty ribs that are cooked until the meat is ready to slump off the bone. Then it's smothered in spices—whole cumin seeds, predominantly, but also chili powder and white and black sesame—and coated in a thin batter, and deep fried. It stinks of cumin the way a burger joint kitchen reeks of salt and beef. Beneath the crackling crust, the lamb's fat is meltingly soft and its flesh is gamey but spoon-tender. It is not a dish to order for those afraid of assertive food.
Fried Fish in Hot Bean Pasta (sic; $18.95)
Whole flounder with a paper-thin crust and flesh as tender as a scrambled egg. It comes smothered in a sauce of bean paste, not too hot despite the name and ever so slightly sweet. Dig in with a crowd; plates here are portioned for family style eating, and you have a lot you should be ordering.
Sweet tender flesh that's a joy to drag through the hot bean paste.
Triple Delight Vegetables ($8.95)
A Dongbei classic: potatoes, eggplant, and green pepper shallow fried until crisp on the outside, then tossed in an oily brown sauce of soy and its discontents. If it sounds like ordinary home-style food, it is, but you'd be remiss not to order it. The jumble of custard-like eggplant, sturdy potato, and slightly hot pepper is the best rendition of the dish I've had outside of Asia.
Crispy Sliced Fish with Chili Pepper and Cumin ($12.95)
Those who want fish without the bones should consider this dish, two-bite flounder filets cooked just until done under their thick batter, and tossed with restrained amounts of the eponymous spices. You could call them Fish McNuggets for the craving.
Deep Fried Eggplant with Minced Pork ($9.95)
Poofy pillows of eggplant stuffed with salty ground pork, with a pile of salt and pepper on the side for dipping.
Bright and comfortable with warm wood accents and red lanterns hung from the ceiling.
That Happy Birthday wall hanging has been there for quite a while.
Country Style Pork Chop ($9.95)
Neither a pork chop nor the appetizer its menu placement would suggest. (The Chinese reads as "Dongbei-style.") It's actually a mess of stewed joints and marrow bones, stained by soy sauce but otherwise left alone in their porcine nakedness. Chopsticks help coax marrow out of narrow cavities, but you really have to dive in with your hands and teeth. (Plastic gloves are provided.) For marrow fanatics it's a feast and a bargain; for others, not a must-have, but $10 is not much for a one-time experience.
Servers provide plastic gloves for dispatching the marrow bones.
Country Style Cucumber ($5.95)
Fresh cucumber with raw garlic, sesame oil, and a little sugar is nice way to refresh yourself between heavier dishes.
Green Bean Sheet Jelly with Red Oil ($8.95)
Wide slippery mung bean starch noodles tossed with cabbage, cucumber, cilantro, and mild chili oil. It's a more subtle dish than the renowned Cold Skin Noodles at Xi'an Famous Foods, lacking the blustering heat and spongey cubes of gluten, but it'll still put a smile on your face.
Sliced Potato with Green Pepper ($6.95)
Cold, oil-slicked potato threads tossed with spicy green peppers. It's a textural pleasure, with potatoes taking on the crisp bite normally reserved for slaw and the lithe flexibility of pasta.
Home Style Pancakes ($3.95 for two)
Griddled wheat pancakes, the starch of choice at many a Dongbei meal, get their own section of the menu. Plain yeasty Home Style Pancakes are good sauce soppers, but the meat-stuffed versions are too messy for their own good.
Sweet Taro ($8.95)
After all this comes dessert. Sliced oranges, of course, but pay heed the selection of "Sweet Dishes," a list of starches including taro, sweet potato, and apple. Order one ($8.95 each) and a few minutes later your table will receive a pile of sticky brown chunks and a bowl of cold water. That's your chosen starch coated in molten sugar, which forms threads of pure caramel as you pull a piece away. Dunk it in the water for a second or two, then bite: the sugar will harden into candy and the starch will be fluffy and steaming within. Eat your share quickly before the mess hardens into an immoveable mess—with the awareness that you may burn your mouth in the process.