Tucked away in a little shopping center in Garland among a bunch of Vietnamese restaurants and markets is Dong Hai
, a Chinese restaurant with a bit of a Vietnamese spin. The dishes are Cantonese for the most part, or a Cantonese take on a Vietnamese favorite such as bot chien, called “rice cake omelet with egg” on this menu. They also offer up a Cantonese version of nui xao bo, christened “tenderloin stir-fried macaroni” here. Of course, such staples as fried rice, soups, noodles (crispy and soft) and fire pots are also available.
One intriguing menu option is a whole Dungeness crab on a plate of fried rice, which serves several people and goes for market price, which is anywhere from $50 to $80. Since this was lunch, we instead opted to try the crabmeat fried rice, which at under $12 is a much cheaper alternative. It was a decent portion, tasty if not offering much in the way of wok hei (breath of the wok). The shredded crabmeat was flavorful, but it lacked a bit in the glorious mouthfeel offered by chunks of succulent crabmeat. I guess if this is really important to you, save your pennies and get the Dungeness.
Crabmeat fried rice
Constantly in search of a good pan-fried noodle dish that would return us to our glory days in college in Austin, we ordered the combination pan-fried egg noodle. This was also under $12, and while it did not capture our lost meals from college, it was good. The combo included squid, chicken, shrimp, beef and veggies, all in a delicate brown sauce that wasn’t overpowering and provided some contrasting soft and crunchy texture to the thin egg noodles.
Combination pan fried egg noodle
Next up, the bot chien/rice cake omelet. This is a thin, small omelet topped with green onions and pressed, fried rice cakes. The little ramekin of slightly sweet seasoned soy sauce made the whole dish reminiscent of a pancake somehow. Evidently this is a common street food in Vietnam, and it was a nice change of pace from the usual orange chicken or what have you.
Rice cake omelet with egg
Finally, we had to try the nui xao bo (tenderloin) stir-fried macaroni thing, as it sounded intriguing. The elbow macaroni at first seemed an odd choice, but evidently it serves the same purpose that rigatoni’s ridges serve in pasta cooking: the sauce and flavor get infused into the pasta better, intensifying the flavors while also making it a bit easier to eat for those of us who are constantly working on our chopstick skills. The beef was tender and delicious; it really did seem to be tenderloin. Sliced onions rounded out this dish, and it is definitely something we’d order again.
Tenderloin stir-fried macaroni
All in all, it was worth the trip to Garland, and this place does offer things beyond General Tso, and for that we’re thankful. Someday we may even get to get that Dungeness crab fried rice. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.
Đông Hải, 3575 W. Walnut St., Garland; 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday