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Dongbei Food In The Bay Area

There was a sidebar thread on the Outer Boroughs board as to the availability of Northeastern Chinese food in the Bay Area, so I'm bringing it over here for a more detailed description. It had gotten so far as to whether the newly opened branch of Nutrition Restaurant in Cupertino could be called Dongbei or not. I had it in the back of my mind to check this out, but my immediate goal was to stop by Beijing Restaurant on Alemany for dinner. However, when I arrived there I saw to my horror that Beijing was temporarily closed. Bummed out as I drove off and approached the 280 I said to myself "What the heck?" and hopped on the freeway for the 40 mile drive to Cupertino. Nutrition does serve Northeastern Chinese food, but it also serves Taiwanese food, herbal food, Shanghai food, Beijing food and who knows what else. So is it a Dongbei restaurant? Yes and no.

More interestingly I walked by Guan Dong House also in Cupertino Village, which for some reason I had assumed served Cantonese food. However the liquor license application sign in the window showed that the legal owner of the restaurant was called Shen Yang Inc. Sure enough, Guan Dong is a Dongbei restaurant. So along with Little Shen Yang in Union City, that's at least two. I've never been to Shan Dong in Oakland so I don't know if that qualifies. Bamboo Garden in Mountain View is a Shanghai restaurant and any NE Chinese food there is incidental. Any others out there?

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Guan Dong House
10851 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

Shan Restaurant
5251 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

Little Shen Yang
1749 Decoto Rd, Union City, CA 94587

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  1. Guan Dong is a Dongbei restaurant. The words means something like outside the door which I think is a nickname for Dongbei. In Mountain View there is Chef Xiu on El Camino Real just north of Castro and just south of Southline on the west side of the street. It is a hole in the wall. The cook is from Dongbei, but the owner is Cantonese. I like this place better than Guan Dong. Give it a try.

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    Chef Xiu
    855 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

    1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5454...

      Have not seen anyone talk about millet, dumplings, pickled vegies, raw dishes and more here. All a must for Manchurian/Dongbei food. But I like where this trail is heading!

      1 Reply
      1. re: scoopG

        Nutrition Restaurant has corn cakes on their daytime "dim sum" menu.

      2. There was also Little Potato in Union City which was notable for Dongbei dishes. Is it still in existence?

        San Dong House on Geary in SF has jiaozi, skewers and lamb dishes in addition to their hand-pulled noodles.

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        Little Potato Restaurant
        1773 Decoto Rd, Union City, CA 94587

        3 Replies
        1. re: soupçon

          Little Potato is still there. For the benefit of scoopG, it's in the same shopping center as Little Shen Yang, along with a few other Chinese restaurants, including the authentic Little Sheep hotpot chain (as opposed to the fake ones which plagued the L.A. area for several years.) Strangely, some of the restaurants in that center have Decoto Road addresses, others have Alvarado Niles Blvd. I kind of thought of Little Potato as more of a Shanghai type place, but I only went there once.

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          Little Sheep
          34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587

          Little Potato Restaurant
          1773 Decoto Rd, Union City, CA 94587

          Little Shen Yang
          1749 Decoto Rd, Union City, CA 94587

          1. re: Chandavkl

            Thanks!

            1. re: scoopG

              And if you think the San Gabriel Valley is spread out, check the mileage from Union City to Cupertino!

        2. Yeah I think that's about all the Dongbei style food places we have in the SF Bay Area.

          For dumplings and other related dishes, one might have to look for them elsewhere for better quality. Kingdom Of Dumpling in San Francisco is pretty much the go to and defacto Northern style dumplings (jiaozi) place. The owner I believe is from Hebei, near Beijing. While not Dongbei, it's as far north as you can get to the goods in this area. They have beef and carrot dumplings too, just like what Bourdain ate on No Reservations Harbin episode. I would not bother with trying dumplings at our Dongbei style restaurants. I do not recall Chef Xiu's dumplings to be to my standard, but other dishes they do quite well.

          One Dongbei dish I had in Taipei was sour pickled napa cabbage with pork belly slices in a hotpot, aka suan tsai bai rou guo or 酸菜白肉鍋. The two items go together like Batman and Robin, Siskel and Ebert, PB & J etc... and so far the best rendition I've had is at Beijing Restaurant (Alemany) and I don't recall New Nutrition House (Milpitas) doing a passable one at all. But for cold appetizer pickled napa cabbage alone, the version at Old Islamic Mandarin in SF is quite good as well, but very pungent. You could order a side specifically for hotpot and have a pseudo Dongbei version (either with beef or lamb which can be quite excellent too).

          There's just not enough coverage or exposure to Dongbei food in general. People are mostly familiar with the stuff Bourdain ate on his show (copious pork), pickled sour napa cabbage, dumplings, "3 freshes from the ground / 地三鮮 basically 3 kinds of veg that grows from the ground...in Dongbei region mostly eggplant, bell pepper, and potato 土豆) , and some lamb dishes and the deep fried sweet potato with molasses dessert.

          These are some classic Dongbei dishes from what I've read (probably easier to copy and paste them in an image search engine than I can describe) that give a better idea of what else is out there:

          豬肉燉粉條
          東北一鍋出 - I believe Guan Dong House offers something like this
          some sort of pork dish called ,醬骨架
          紅扒熊掌 - last two characters = bear paw. Probably won't find this in the US...
          東北鍋包肉 - another pork dish
          殺豬菜 - The characters basically mean "killing a pig cuisine" so Bourdain: Harbin episode, the banquet of pig themed dinner is based on this style, where they take a whole hog and turn it into multiple courses. The not so grand version is taking the meat, pickled sour cabbage, guts/intestines and blood and doing stuff with it, sometimes combining all three together.
          飛龍湯 - soup made from a bird (could be gamey)
          三鮮鹿茸羹
          美味鼻
          白松大馬哈魚
          白扒猴頭 -- monkey head... but don't worry, it's a mushroom
          什錦蛤蟆油 - toad?

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          Guan Dong House
          10851 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

          Nutrition House
          496 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035

          Chef Xiu
          855 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

          1 Reply
          1. re: K K

            Thanks KK. It may be, like with the Fujianese today we have a reverse internal migration in the USA (East to West) than 160 years ago (West to East). At the risk of sensory overload I submit here the photo array from four Manchurian restaurants in NYC. (I actually prefer the term Manchurian because these three provinces in NE China constituted Manchuria, a name it seems some friends in Beijing want to erase from history.)

            But these photos should give you a good baseline I hope...anyone of these places out West serving Tiger Vegetable?

            Fu Run:
            https://picasaweb.google.com/roswellh...

            Golden Palace:
            https://picasaweb.google.com/roswellh...

            https://picasaweb.google.com/roswellh...

            Northeast Taste - now closed.
            https://picasaweb.google.com/roswellh...

            Rural:
            https://picasaweb.google.com/roswellh...

          2. I found Nutrition's menu a bit baffling. I was on my own for lunch so ordered just one thing, a spicy fish dish that I hadn't heard of before. Turned out to be a translation problem, it was actually squid done in a sort of generic stir-fry fashion. I told them about the problem so they may have fixed it.