Perhaps no one has ever said “The San Gabriel Valley needs more hot pot restaurants,” but halal mutton purveyor Dong Lai Shun has entered the fray in SGV’s hot pot scene. Opened on June 11, the Beijing chain’s second stateside location (the first is in Mountain View) is a mainland favorite.
Those who have been to the Mountain View or Hong Kong spots are in for a bit of a surprise. Dong Lai Shun’s SGV outlet breaks from the crowded table layouts draped in white tablecloths, instead opting for spacious table settings rich in wood tones and colorful, intricately patterned pots.
A butcher station lines the back of the restaurant, where a full-sized halal lamb is broken down into constituent pieces for preparation out in the open. Mutton is the primary focus here, whether it’s small, skewered cubes seasoned with cumin and then grilled, or near-translucent slivers awaiting dipping into copper bowls of boiling water.
Hotpot is serious business at Dong Lai Shun, and even seemingly routine aspects of the experience like the broth contains added flourishes. In Dong Lai Shun’s case, the hotpot broth is aided by jujubes and goji berries, little touches that give the broth an almost medicinal flavor that pairs nicely with the bite-sized pieces of sliced mutton.
Other menu items include various rice and sesame cakes, a beef hotpot option, and even lamb dumplings. Dong Lai Shun is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then for dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m., with a later closure on weekends.
402 S. San Gabriel Blvd. San Gabriel, CA