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.

Today is Lunar New Year’s Eve, which is traditionally celebrated with various food and festivities. If you’re looking for ideas of something to make, I’ve included a round-up of Chinese recipes at the end of this post. I also wanted to share some photos from the Lunar New Year party I had over the weekend.

Growing up, Lunar New Year was always a big deal in my family. After I moved away for college, my roommates and I would have people over for dumpling folding parties or to go out to eat hot pot.

The last few years though, after my siblings and cousins left San Diego and it has just been Mr. K and I, we’ve barely celebrated the holiday. We hit an all-time low last year when we didn’t do a single thing until it was 9 PM and I suddenly decided we had to go out for Chinese food to commemorate the occasion. It wasn’t even good Chinese food and in fact the restaurant closed down soon after. It was during the sad dinner that I vowed to turn things around this year. So, I decided to throw a party!

We invited some good friends over and I attempted to try to cook for about 16 people. Since I share so many recipes on this blog, I knew people would be expecting me to make everything, so I made almost everything from scratch, though we ended up buying the dumplings because Mr. K refused to help me fold a hundred dumplings. It was a lot of fun and I think everyone had a good time. Some of the food didn’t turn out quite as I wanted it to–I haven’t quite mastered trying to cook so many dishes all at the same time.

The last hour before guests arrived was a really big scramble. No matter how many times I am determined to get everything done early, it never happens and the morning hours just get away from us. I did manage to have about 5 minutes to spare and take a few pictures before the first guests arrived. I tried to include some of the traditional dishes served during Lunar New Year, but I didn’t go too crazy trying to include them all. If you’re curious about the holiday and the symbolic foods eaten during this holiday, you can read my previous post here.

Pork and Leek Dumplings

Dumplings are often eaten during New Year’s because they are folded in a shape that resembles ancient currency, so eating them should bring fortune in the new year.