I was hankering for some place new to try, and after a quick search on Yelp, we found Dun Huang, a northwestern Chinese restaurant that has taken over the old Chef Hung’s spot at Diamond Jamboree. When we arrived, I contemplated getting take out, but then, I saw how spaced-out the tables were, and there were not many people inside the restaurant. Being fully vaccinated, we decided it was safe enough to dine in, as all staff were donning face coverings and the restaurant looked very clean. (photo courtesy of Kat Nguyen)
Dunhuang is a city in Gansu province in western China, and was a major stop, or resting place, on the Silk Road. Its cuisine is similar to that of Lanzhou and Xi’an, which has been popularized by the New York eatery Xi’an Famous Foods, and of all the influx of restaurants offering this cuisine within Orange County itself.
There were so many things we wanted to try, but on this initial visit, there were just two of us, so we didn’t go overboard with the ordering. We started off with a couple of cold appetizers. Okra Salad ($8.50) can be found at several Orange County restaurants, each with its own variation. The one here is lovely, seasoned with Sichuan peppercorns and soy sauce. Not having dined out much this last year, I am finding a lot of outside food being way too salty for my current palate — which is insane because if you have been following my posts through the years, you’ll know that I love savory foods. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this isn’t overly spicy, nor overly salty.
Mung Bean Noodles ($7.50) — one of my son’s favorites — was also very flavorful without being overly oily or salty. Seasoned with oyster sauce, garlic and spicy sauce, these beautiful slippery noodles are so slurpable and delicious, so perfect on a warm summer’s day — and it’s coming up very soon!
I was bummed I missed the part on the menu where it states you can choose the thickness of the noodles, so we ended up with two noodle dishes with the same noodles. I didn’t see it until after we’d started eating. I’m not complaining at all, but it would have been nice to try a different variation, but gives me the perfect excuse to come back!
Signature Lanzhou Beef Noodles ($12) sees chewy hand-pulled noodles swimming in prime beef broth with slices of beef, braised egg, radish slices, cilantro, and house special chili oil. The broth is clear, and very clean on the palate. I loved how bold it tasted without being overwhelmed by other unnecessary ingredients. The only thing with hot noodle soup is that as you eat, you’ll find the noodles will start losing its chew factor, the longer it sits in the broth.
I also ordered Dun Huang Cold Noodles ($12) which uses the same hand-pulled noodles, but with toppings of poached chicken, bean sprouts, peanuts, cilantro, green onions, and spicy sauce. The noodles were absolutely on point. In fact, this bowl was simply sublime — utter perfection! The noodles’ spice level was not overpowering, making it easy to taste all the individual ingredients instead of just heat.
I am so happy to find Dun Huang. I had no idea that it is a chain out of New York and there are a couple of locations in Los Angeles county as well. We were lamenting on our last trip to Hong Kong that this style of cuisine in OC is never quite the same, so I am super stoked that Dun Huang comes pretty close. I like this far better than its nearby counterparts, Meizhou Dongpo, Qin West, and Sichuan Impressions, all of which tend to be heavy-handed when it comes to seasoning, and not consistent from visit to visit. I hope this isn’t the case when we return to Dun Huang next. So looking forward to visiting again!
(at Diamond Jamboree)
2710 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92606