Some gems shine with hundreds of tiny, perfectly chiseled planes of brilliance, obvious in their resplendent glory. Some are tucked away, hidden and unassuming, showing their sparkles to very few.
Nomad Asian Bistro is one of the undiscovered treasures, tucked between an urgent care clinic and Clam Jumper in one of many sprawling urban plazas of Long Beach.
What separates it from all the other Asian restaurants in Southern California is that it’s the only halal-certified Chinese eatery offering favorite fares from all corners of the vast Asian continent. There are more than thirty million Muslims in China, and the original owner of the restaurant was one of them. But here in California, Nomad Asian Bistro is the favorite spot for many Arabic Muslims looking for halal Chinese dishes.
Our host for the day was Cary Huyhn, Nomad Asian Bistro‘s front-of-the-house manager, pastry chef, and one of the chefs. Originally from Vietnam, Cary grew up in Australia where he followed his grandmother’s love of all things culinary to establish himself as a chef and a caterer (his claim to fame – catering the Australia Open tennis tournament – I have to wonder if he met my compatriot and tennis champ Novak Djokovic.)
Our group of food writers and bloggers was seated in a nook filled with big, round tables featuring lazy Susans in the middle, obviously designed to serve dishes family style. The restaurant can accommodate up to 250 patrons, offering a variety of seating, from small tables perfect for couples to mostly private areas ideal for larger groups, and even an outside patio.
We were greeted with smiles and welcoming words from Cary and the staff and beautiful centerpieces of deep purple dragon fruit, pale yellow ginger lemonade and vibrant red of Ispahan iced tea made with rose petal, lychee syrup, and raspberries.
And then our lunch feast started. Dishes appeared from the kitchen one by one, too numerous to count, perfect in their execution, flavored immaculately, and presented in a most attractive manner. There was just the right amount of spice, the perfect crunch, the most satisfying pairing of sweet, salty, spicy, and sour.
Each dish deserved the “ooohs” and “aaahs”, the incessant clicking of cameras, and justling around to get the best overhead shot by many smartphones.
Chef Cary talked about each dish and we all felt the passion and love he imbued in every morsel he prepared for us (all the desserts and few of the savory dishes.) He revealed that he slept only three hours the previous night, making sure everything went perfect for us. And it did!
We finished lunch very sated, but not feeling uncomfortably full. Yes, we had three appetizers, several entrees (shrimp, lamb, filet mignon, and lobster) along with a few delectable side dishes, and in the end four desserts, but everything was perfectly seasoned and perfectly portioned.
I want you to go over to the Nomad Asian Bistro and indulge in all they have to offer (if you want the lobster, you have to reserve it twenty-four hours ahead.) You will be in for a treat – trust me on that!
Here is our lunch menu:
-Chicken Roti Wrap – grilled chicken wrapped in Indian paratha, with a sauce made with hoisin, mayonnaise, plum sauce with cucumbers, cilantro, and pickled cabbage
-Shrimp Egg Rolls served with a dipping sauce
-Lotus Root and Berry Salad – a Vietnamese salad with preserved baby lotus stems, green papaya, fresh mango, raspberries, basil, and orange vinaigrette
ENTREES AND SIDES
-Apple Walnut Shrimp
-Filet Mignon in brown butter sauce
-Asparagus with white garlic sauce
-Lamb Rack in basil sauce (the lamb has been marinated for more than twenty hours)
-Lobster in black pepper sauce (and what a presentation!!!)
-Vegetable Delight with bamboo shoots, bean curd skin, baked tofu slices, mushrooms, carrots, water chestnuts, and asparagus
-Mix Greens Chow Fun – rice noodles with broccoli, asparagus, and baby bok choy
-Jade Fried Rice – made from black rice and brown rice, with baby bok choy, gai lan, green onions, omelet strips, and toasted pine nuts
-Sesame Panna Cotta
-Thai Tea crème Brûlée
-Rainbow Cassava Strips