North China

Pot stickers with Chile sauce.
Pot stickers with Chile sauce.

113 North Broadway
Santa Maria, CA 93454

I had a crappy morning. I won’t go into the details, because that’s not what this blog is about, but it was crappy. And of course, every crappy day needs Chinese food. Good Chinese food. There’s nothing quite like it when you’re feeling down!
I heard about North China from one of my friends who said it was amazing, but it’s taken me two years to actually go. So today’s the day. This place is legit. They won best Chinese food in Northern Santa Barbara County multiple times and were named one of the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA. Dang. I definitely had high expectations for this place.
Walking in, I was surprised by how small and casual the dining area was. I was expecting a high-end restaurant but it almost looks like a café inside. We were seated immediately and served tea and water by our very helpful waitress. The service was all great, which is one of the things that really makes this place stand out!
We ordered the “Dinner for Two” which included pot stickers, sizzling rice soup, Mongolian beef, garlic chicken, and steamed rice. Also, because I’m a fatty, I got the Moo-Shu shrimp as well.

Sizzling rice soup, garlic chicken, and Mongolian beef.
Sizzling rice soup, garlic chicken, and Mongolian beef.

The pot stickers were delicious. They were definitely very fresh and authentic, and the two dipping sauces were perfect to accentuate the delicate flavor of the pork inside. They were also really really crispy, which I love. It deserves to be mentioned that all the appetizers, including the vast array of dipping sauces, are all made fresh daily in the kitchen. No jarred hoisin here! The sizzling rice soup was also good. A bit of a departure for me, as I usually order egg-drop soup when I’m eating Chinese.
I was happy to see that neither my Mongolian beef nor the garlic chicken were battered and deep-fried. It’s gotten to the point that I’m not even sure what authentic Mongolian beef is, because every restaurant I’ve eaten at makes it completely differently. I like the crispy version, but I was glad I had something a little healthier this time. The flavors in both dishes were very bold, with tons of yummy veggies in each, but the sauces almost tasted the same, so it’s a little hard to review them independently.

Moo-Shoo Shrimp
Moo-Shu Shrimp

I didn’t have time to get a picture of the entire Moo-Shu dish, because the waitress stayed at our table and actually assembled our wraps for us, which is a shame because the presentation was beautiful, but also really cool because I love interacting with the wait-staff and learning more about the restaurant.
I’m so glad I ordered this dish. It was definitely the highlight of our meal! Nik had never tried Moo-Shu, so I’m glad his first exposure to it was so tasty. He’s definitely a fan now! The shrimp were perfectly cooked and plump, the egg to veggie ratio was spot-on, and the hoisin sauce was to die for. Everything came together perfectly inside the pancake, which was heartier than usual, but I appreciated that it could hold so much juiciness inside without falling apart. I think this might be the best Moo-Shu I’ve ever had, and it was only $13 and could have totally fed two people. (I’m totally eating Moo-Shu leftovers as I write this. They’re just as good cold, by the way.)

Way too much food for two small people.

All in all, I’m really glad we tried this restaurant. The pot-stickers and soup were delicious, the service was quick, we got our food in under ten minutes, and I would go back for the Moo-Shu alone. I liked our other main dishes, but I wish I would have ordered two dishes with a little more contrast. The prices were reasonable, and I’ve definitely paid more for Chinese that wasn’t as good!

Unrelated, but my next post is going to be from Portland! I get to spend a weekend there to tour some different apartment complexes and hopefully find our new home. 2015 is looking to be a very exciting year for this blog! Now, excuse me while I go eat my leftovers.


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