Nutrition House (Dongbei cruisine) in Milpitas
Two days ago, I tried Nutrition House restaurant for lunch in Milpitas. The English name isn't even on the outside; it's tucked away in the same mall as the Ranch 99, in the corner next to the hot pot restaurant.
They specialise in Dong Bei cooking, from North Eastern China. I'm not sure what to expect since I haven't tried this type of food before.
There seem to be large quantities of hard-looking bread roles and other bread dishes across the back of the restaurant. The Dongbei specialties on the menu include a lot of meat-based dishes, some spicy dishes, a number of potato-based dishes and a large array of dumplings along with the more traditional types of dish.
I tried eggplant and potato in pork soy sauce, which tasted similar to the Cantohese dish, but with the addition of potatoes, more gravy and less chilli. Overall it was quite tasty, but heavy on the oil (not really a problem for eggplant).
Spicy fish and tofu was very simple - fish slices and tofu in red chilli oil with a small handful of sichuan peppercorns thrown in for good measure. This tastes as one would expect.
We also tried a Dongbei-style pork (fried pork with brown gravy). The pork was again nothing special - fried bits of meat in a rich, slightly sweet brown sauce.
One dish of boiled dumplings with chive, egg, shrimp and what appeared to be some meat were delicious. They have far more dumplings on the menu, so next time I will try several varieties.
Finally, an order of mixed vegetables was just standard - green veggies, mushrooms, carrot slices etc. I suppose I deserved that for thinking it would be anything different!
I would like to go back, try some of their breads, and order more from the Dongbei menu next time.
However, I'm in need of advice as to what to order, and which Dongbei dishes would be the ones to look out for! Can someone help?
PS. It was very very crowded at lunch time, and the entire clientelle was Mandarin-speaking.
we tried this place for lunch 7/26/06 because one restaurant we wanted to go wasn't open yet, there is a small sign that has Nutrition House written on it, but the bigger sign is in Chinese.
Since I didn't have any chowhound notes I was on my own.
Dishes we tried:
lamb steam dumpling (5) $3.00-lots of lamb meat only, dumpling skin was just ok. no sauce was given so just used the vinegar and soy sauce on the table. Served in the steamed basket.
Also tried the cold noodle chicken spicy sauce noodle #1751($5.95) and cold noodle pork spicy sauce noodle #1752($5.95). Both were decent. Lots of stuff like egg, cucumber and cilantro that gets mixed w/ the noodle and the sauce (peanut butter like sauce w/ a tiny bit of heat) on the bottom. The pork had no taste, and the chicken was just shredded cold chicken.
I might go back but with Martin's recommendations.
Now that Dongbei House is closing (or has closed), Jing, Zelinda and I decided to stop at Nutrition House on the way back from Raging Waters in San Jose to celebrate Zelinda's third birthday. Jing spent her first 12 years in Changchun in the Dongbei region of China before moving to Tianjin.
The restaurant was full when we arroved (around 8:00PM on a Friday), and we had to wait about 15 minutes to get seated). Portions are huge. We ordered the following dishes, which came to about $40 and was about twice as much food as we could finish (and we were all hungry), maybe more:
Dongbei Pork Skin Jello (1001)
This type of thing usually isn;t my cup of tea anyway. I only took a small bite and thought it was disgusting. Jing was expecting something a bit different and did not like it either.
Dongbei Eggplant w/Green Pepper, Potato Dongbei Style (1105)
[di san xian]
According to Jing, this is a Dongbei staple. We've tried it in several different restaurants, and we both agreed that this one was the best of the lot. Nice, rich garlic flavor to this one.
Camin [Cumin] Seed Lamb Plate [tieban ziran yang rou] (1401)
Very disappointing. A bunch of soggy lamb piled on top of a hot black iron plate. This is not a Dongbei dish, actually, but we ordered it because we both usually like this dish a long. Serves us right for ordering a non-Dongbei dish at a Dongbei restaurant.
We chatted with the couple at the next table who had ordered sizzling beef. They also didn't like it and left most of it uneaten. Skip the sizzling plate dishes.
(Chinese only heading - Dongbei duncai)
Sparerib with Soured Napa (1312)
We were stuffed by the time this came, but we still enjoyed it. Nice flavorful broth. Jing says "soured napa" is as essential to the Dongbei diet as kimchee is to the Korean diet.
Noodle Soup / Rice Noodle Soup
Da Lu Noodle (1810)
This was a lovely soup with fresh noodles, pieces of pork and tree ear (mu'er) mushrooms. Maybe not very exciting, but fresh, tasty and wholesome.
There are some small breads at the counter. Labeled in Chinese only. We ordered the sesame bread, which was a big disappointment. It was super sweet - I'm not a fan of Chinese sweet breads. I like the savory.
One dish that I noticed at another table that looked really good was Stear-Pot and Soup - Braised Pork with Bean Sheets Pot (1610). We'll order this one next time.
I know this sounds a bit hit-or-miss, but the dishes that were good were really very good, and we would definitely go back if in the area. Seems like you really need to know what to order here.
re: Martin Strell
I have been back to the place a couple of times since I wrote the first message on this thread.
Overall, I would agree with several other posters - the experience is completely hit and miss. Despite having a supposedly top chef from China (how can one cook "top food" when the turnover rate is so high that even the tea is not hot!), sometimes it works really well and other times is just not that good.
good food, and excellent value.
however they pack too many people in there, if you look at the max occup board it says something like 86. there's at least 1.5x that in there.
there is no room to walk or move, and they have those sterno burners everwhere with hot broths/soups, etc. it's a lawsuit waiting to happen
also we ordered a veggie dish (dah doh miao), i don't know the english name. and was charged $7.99 for a HALF order, the waiter's explaination was that market price was $15/lb that day. being men we might not shop for groceries but we certainly arn't fools. we didn't argue and just paid the bill, but we haven't gone back yet. (this was our third or fourth visit)
not a huge fan of their service or business practice.
I will give this place a try next time.
According to a Chinese newspaper ad, this hard working restaurant opens as early as 6 am and serves the typical soy milk and yoh tieow (fried bread dough stick) breakfast items, and closes at 2 am! There are 3 other restaurants in the other complex a little further down (where ABC Seafood Restaurant and Ulferts is)that open till 2 am to 3 am. Nice to know there are options for late night dining, though sadly all the way in Milpitas.