For a great night out "on the wagon," we would like to recommend the Lotus Chinese Eatery, which is one of the few Islamic Chinese restaurants in Orange County. They feature halal meats and serve no alcohol. Although there is no pork, there are a number of excellent lamb dishes. Because this is the cuisine of Western China, varieties of noodles and breads replace rice as the staple food, since wheat grows abundantly in the colder northern and western parts of the country.
Another distinguishing feature is the very contemporary décor with beautiful mixed wood floors, dark brown walls, ceilings and spacious booths. Tasteful, soft red accents, bamboo shades, some well-placed plants and a few Tang ceramic sculptures complete the picture.
Not brave enough for the cold spicy ox tripe, we opted for the house-made chicken vegetable pan-fried dumplings. To be honest, we missed the richness created by pork, but the house-made dumpling dough was excellent and so was the very flavorful dipping sauce — a soy-based concoction made with rice vinegar, ginger shreds and red chilies.