South Bay: Chinjin Eastern House Restaurant
I remember going to Dong Lai Sun with my family when I was a kid and having an all-out lamb feast every time. Years ago, when I found out that Dong Lai Sun closed its doors in Fremont, I was devastated. In more recent years, I caught wind of a rumor that Dong Lai Sun had reopened elsewhere.
I didn't get serious about tracking down Dong Lai Sun until this year, when I was suddenly hit with an intense craving for Chinese Muslim cuisine during my spring break trip to New York. My sister and I were at Xi'an Famous Foods and I spotted lamb pao mo soup on the menu. We used to have it all the time at Dong Lai Sun. After that trip, I called my mom and informed her that 1) we were going to find Dong Lai Sun and 2) we were going to eat there this summer.
A little bit of Internet research revealed that Dong Lai Xun (called Chinjin Eastern House Restaurant in English) is actually in San Jose - my city!:
I rallied my entire family into making the trip and even got my ahyi (who dislikes lamb) to come along by bribing her with non-lamb dishes.
Nothing fancy here, just the way I like it:
My sister said she recognized some of the servers, but I guess I've always been too focused on the lamb to memorize faces.
Here's the mo I mentioned earlier:
It's basically a really dense, flavorless bread.
You're supposed to rip it up:
Then the servers take the bowl away and fill it with soup. We wanted lamb soup (duh):
Heavy on the white pepper, just the way I like it. The mo pieces soak up the soap, but somehow retain some chew to them. So good.
We saw something on the menu that mentioned lamb, but we had no idea what it was, so we ordered it to give it a try. Apparently it was a kind of pan fried bing (flattened bread) with lamb inside:
The skin was super thin and crispy, much like a potsticker skin. I think I ate half of that plate.
To mix things up a bit for my ahyi, we ordered a seafood noodle soup in a clay pot:
Because we couldn't help it, we ordered lamb and green onion:
The lamb meat was so tender I wanted to cry.
The one thing my mom really wanted was this chao bing:
It's like chow mein, but instead of noodles, they slice up bing (flattened bread) and stir fry it with the other ingredients. We chose beef to give my ahyi a break. My mom is trying to figure out how to make it. I really hope she figures it out because I love this stuff.
Lastly, I requested a beef xian bing:
Similar to the lamb bing we ordered, but round and thicker. The bing is pan fried, making the skin crispy and delicious. Look how juicy it is:
It really is a shame that not many people know about Chinese Muslim cuisine. I can't explain why I love it so much. It's just that it's an amalgamation of all the stuff that I love: lamb, bing, lamb, mo, lamb... You get the picture.
Now that I've found Dong Lai Sun again, I'll definitely be back.
Chinjin Eastern House Restaurant
1530 S De Anza Blvd
San Jose, CA 95129