Driving by the months under construction Dong Lai Shun in San Gabriel last Saturday night, I saw they were having a festive grand opening celebration, so I went back this afternoon to check it out. In line with a lot of the Mainland based Chinese restaurants opening up these days it is spacious and well appointed. And in line with similar new restaurants it’s quite pricey, Fortunately, they have a lunch special for about $13, so you can get to try the place and its Beijing style hotpots without breaking the bank or wasting too much money. Unfortunately, that’s the only good news, aside from the pretty surroundings and classy cooking vessel. I had the chicken and fish hotpot in house special broth (also accompanied by tofu, mushrooms, and spinach). But all they gave me was chicken, no fish. Meanwhile the house special broth tasted more like dishwater than the soup in the cafeteria at my alma mater, Johnnie Cochran Middle School (well, it was called Mount Vernon Jr. High back when I attended it). Actually this is the second US branch of Dong Lai Shun, with the first branch being up north in Mountain View. Reading the reviews of that location, it was deja vu all over again, with complaints about the price and the flavorless broth.
I also have to say it was a little unnerving to be eating in a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles on flatware with the restaurant’s logo inscribed along with “since 1903,” since with the temporary closure of Formosa Cafe I don’t know if there are any Chinese restaurants here in LA that go back beyond the 1950s.