Dong Lai Shun is a hot pot Chinese restaurant that first opened in Beijing over 100 years ago. They’re well known in China and they just opened in Mountain View. The owner told me that he wanted to open here because “Mountain View is like the United Nations.” Those words are beautiful and perfectly describe the diversity and economic strength of our community.
My office went out to lunch at Dong Lai Shun this week. Each person got their own personal hot pot of whatever flavored broth they wanted. Most of us had Hot & Spicy or Wild Mushroom broth. Our meat selection included Prime Rib, Kobe Beef, Lamb, Scallops and Shrimp. Honestly, I felt like royalty; it was such a feast! They brought us all different kinds of vegetables to cook too. There were several cold salads, some dipping sauces, and hot chili oil to flavor whatever you happen to be cooking in your broth.
Don’t even think about leaving without dessert. We had Glutinous Rice Cake and Glutinous Bean Flour Rolls. They were both sweet, but not too sweet. A perfect ending.
It’s really quite an adventure, if you compare it to going to a regular restaurant. You’re responsible for cooking your own food, although it’s really easy and it’s all figured out for you. Just pick something up from the platters of food in front of you, which includes all of the meat and veggies you would ever want, dip it in your hot pot for 10 seconds, more time if it’s something bigger, like a scallop or piece of shrimp, then dip it in your secret sauce (sesame, sweet garlic or seafood flavor) and enjoy.
It’s really very interactive. Their staff knows that hot pot dining might not be familiar to all of their guests, so they explained everything to us and recommended certain things. This restaurant has been open for a few months, but they were kind of in stealth mode to be sure that they got all the details right, since this is their first US location. They got it right.
The interior is glamorous with lots of hand carved Rosewood, silk curtains, Chinese artwork, and beautiful lighting. The front doors are amazing and after you see the place, you’ll understand why it took quite a while for them to finally open.
I particularly like the fact that hot pot dining is so healthy and it keeps you busy during the meal, since you’re contemplating what goes in the pot next and how long it will take to cook. A few times we all laughed when one of us found a random scallop that got away and sank to the bottom of the broth. It was really nice to go with the entire office.
The restaurant has several private rooms which are perfect for parties. The main part of the dining area is absolutely gorgeous and can be rented for weddings or other events. Mountain View seems to have a shortage of venues for events and I get asked all the time about places that can be rented for corporate events or wedding. This is definitely a place to check out.
So try something new, if you haven’t had hot pot before, or get a big group of friends together and go out for a fun, adventurous meal. You will love it! They also serve outstanding food that is not hot pot. Dong Lai Shun is located in the San Antonio Shopping Center, between Paul Martins and Pacific Catch.