Happy Lunar New Year! I’m celebrating with these easy, made-from-scratch Chinese buns, which I stuffed with pork belly, scallions, cucumbers and hoisin sauce, inspired by the famous Momofuku’s Pork Belly Buns.

Each bun takes less than five minutes to prepare and cook. No dealing with yeast, steamers, etc.

Chinese steamed buns come in various different forms: plain, sealed with a savory or sweet filling, or in a thin pancake form. The pancake form is quite popular at restaurants. A thin round bun has pork belly or some sort of protein in the center, and is then folded over and eaten like a sandwich.

101 Noodle Express is a Chinese restaurant chain in Los Angeles and Irvine that specializes in dumplings, hand torn noodles, and beef rolls.

I mentioned in my Lunar New Year Party post that we recently visited the Irvine location so we could buy some frozen dumplings. Since we were there, we decided to grab a quick bite as well.

The restaurant was packed, but the food still arrived quickly.

Beef Roll

The restaurant is famous for their beef roll. Slices of marinated beef are wrapped in a savory Chinese pancake. It’s a bit like a Chinese burrito. Out of all the beef rolls I’ve tried, 101 Noodle Express makes my favorite one. The portion is pretty big, with each order containing two oversized rolls. The pancake is chewy and not too dry, the meat is flavorful and tender.

What really makes the beef rolls unique here, is the chopped green chili medley, which you can add to the beef roll. Normally I don’t like chilis, but I love how much better the beef rolls taste with this addition. The mix has cilantro, mild green chilis, and I’m not sure what else. The chili sits at each table and we always load up our beef rolls with it.

I’ve been giving recommendations for fish tacos a lot lately, prompting me to want to revisit South Beach Bar and Grille, which is usually one of my favorite places in San Diego for fish tacos.

Located next to the ocean, the restaurant offers a great view of Ocean Beach.

It was semi-busy when we arrived, but for some reason our food took more than thirty minutes to arrive and all we did was order four fish tacos. I was slightly irritated by the wait, especially since we had already hit  lot of the beach traffic while driving to the restaurant.

Mahi Taco

The grilled marinated mahi is one of their most popular tacos. The fish is marinated overnight and packs a powerful punch of sweet teriyaki flavor. It’s then piled high with shredded red cabbage, salsa fresca, and a creamy white sauce. All fish tacos are served on flour tortillas unless you request differently.

In the past, I’ve never minded the flour tortillas, but they were not working for me on this visit. They tasted like subpar packaged tortillas and they distracted from the taco filling.