We like the roast pork belly at Longo Seafood as much as Dragon Beaux. We also preferred the version at Pacific Lighthouse in Alameda incrementally over Dragon Beaux.
My theory on the decline of Chinese bbq consumption among the next generation is that Millennials are notorious for not liking bones in their meat (presumably because they grew up with chicken nuggets), and this is just another manifestation. For that matter I’m not a big fan of Chinese bbq meats because I don’t like bones either.
Guess there are too many genres for everybody to keep up on everything. I’ve done my best to tout Noodle Boy as the local king of wonton noodles. Indeed I first discovered that the late Jonathon Gold actually read my tweets when he “liked” that comment I made about Noodle Boy.
Oh yeah you guys should see how our Sichuan / Tanjia banquet restaurant that is super loved by some of the Chowhounds, how they air dry their ducks for tea smoking or was it Peking…out in the open by the back entrance leading into the parking lot and dumpster. At least with the Taiwan photo it’s out in the open (as they say 光明正大…)
I’ll probably end up offending some people by saying this…but I think Cantonese is generally very lacking in Southern California (and in some cases super appalling) due to a combination of things.
Easier to make low quality mass produced food that requires less skill
competition on pricing / price wars, resulting in cutting costs, so no need for skilled chefs for anything (how many mediocre seafood dim sum restaurants do we really need at low prices?). In the end the consumer gets screwed with no great choices but a bunch of crappy similar choices
the mentality of many non FTC consumers who prefer value over price/taste (probably the older non foodie crowd) and the ones who don’t give a duck’s butt what they are eating and rather have a plate of $25 pasta or hit up the 626 night market for 3 hour wait expensive thrills so they could 'gram it. Let’s face it, who wants to gram a microwaved duck when you can have Fusion Fries, Poke bowls, boba trucks, eggette ice cream sundaes all in one shot?
when there are treasures to be unearthed in a restaurant, nobody (except maybe FTCers and those with the right FTC mentality) notices them and puts on their Asian American Yelping hat, orders the equivalent of dim sum type popularity items (then hits the boba shop afterwards)…could be a millennial thing or parents not exposing the kids enough to what’s out there…but don’t worry, Hong Kong is catching up with millennial attitudes as well, giving traditional won ton noodles the finger and complaining about prices, but have no qualms lining up for $16 tonkatsu ramen. Anyone remember Bon Marche Bistro in Monterey Park? I’ve never been, but one of your local greats, exilekiss, reviewed it fairly extensively circa 2008 or so. Nobody else did Poon Choy like that, and some Hakka Cantonese (well we do have Hakka Restaurant in SF but it’s inconsistent)…and yet they did not survive…easy to point the finger at lack of appreciation but that’s entirely possible too. When Bon Marche shuttered, even though I have not tried the food, I was like “damn, there’s no hope for Cantonese in SoCal if the general public can’t even treasure something niche like this”.
whatever great skilled chef you guys had who left HK for LA and may have opened restaurants, probably retired and never took on apprentices (or maybe those who could have apprenticed, decided to learn other cuisines instead of trying to carry on the torch and craft, it’s already happening in Hong Kong). Word is that Embassy Kitchen in San Gabriel, the chef that created those great items, has retired or is no longer working there for other reasons (apparently is a friend of a famous ex chef up here), and those in the know noticed that the special dishes don’t taste the same as before. Take Seafood Palace Rosemead (with a branch in Monterey Park)…how many people flock there for the Chiu Chow simmered eats and true Chiu Chow style Cantonese? Look at Yelp and most people are ordering typhoon shelter crab…but in a way they did this to themselves (heck the Chinese name is Typhoon Shelter). Would people even care if the Chiu Chow centric items disappeared from the menu?
Last but not least, I would venture a guess and say there is a general lack of skill (and care) in the execution, and the lack of skilled chefs from Hong Kong around in general who knows what the true flavors are. I firmly believe that once people experience them, even the younger 626 night market gram type crowd, they will become believers (maybe not apprentices to the craft).
Noodle Boy for Southern California otherwise looks very promising, even though it’s still not quite the real deal, but the impression I get from photos is that it is for sure notches above average and looks far tastier than say Hon’s Wun Tun Noodle in SF Chinatown (the irony: Hon’s makes and sells fresh rice rolls for steaming or plain cheung fun, but when you dine in at the restaurant it’s microwaved so it comes out dry and humorously a touch al dente, and it tastes nothing like dim sum cheung fun with the smooth slippery skins).
Hong Kong style Ja Jeung Meen, much like the highly beloved macaroni cheese, is subject to a number of interpretations. However the flavor profile focuses around sweet, sour, spicy, and sometimes other subtle flavors, along with julienne pork strips (being the more traditional pork prep of choice) or for the lazy shortcutters, ground pork. The more common interpretation is a ketchup and chili sauce (e.g. doubanjiang) base stir fried with julienne strips of pork (sometimes with onions) then placed on top of ideally bamboo pole kneaded egg noodles (broth on the side) where this would essentially be what I call “Cantonese pasta bolognese al dente” (more so if the shorcutter ground pork is used).
Even in Hong Kong, at whatever traditional won ton noodle shops remain, the ja jeung sauce recipe could vary to achieve different textures (and in some cases profiles)
the author’s top favorite ja jeung, the sauce is not ketchup, but hoisin…hence a darker shade.
in the second restaurant (which is Wing Wah in Wanchai, going to shutter for good before the end of the month), the sauce is quite refined. No visible signs of ketchup, and the addition of shitake slivers adds some umami and texture.
the third one sounds rather legendary, that despite the ketchup addition, the chili oil brings out a balance that mutes the sweetness from the ketchup. Deceivingly simple but yet steadfast and traditional
One last variant not mentioned, is by using some of the best traditional artisan chili sauce to create the ja jeung mix (e.g. Yu Kwen Yick @Ns1 knows what I’m talking about, which adds a wonderfully balanced complexity and sweet/sour/spicy balance from the fermented sweet potatoes, not to mention the wonderful acidity). YKY seems to have started off being the de facto chili sauce back in the heyday at won ton noodle shops, but eventually restaurant owners phased them out due to very high costs. I’ve used Yu Kwen Yick also in spicy tuna handrolls (cheap Ahi tuna of course) with killer results, and you could also add it to pasta. Hong Kong now has a craft beer and cocktails using Yu Kwen Yick too. Too bad this stuff is not exported, but is one of the absolute must buys as a food souvenir for chili sauce fans.
Without knowing anything more about Noodle Boy’s JJM and only looking at the picture, it’s otherwise a good looking “sweet and sour pork” over noodles dish. If the sweet/sour/spicy balance is good, then we have a winner. @Chowseeker1999 we need your review and pictures on this!
I think your points are very good observations
In fact, the general outline of your points applies to so much of what goes on with more and more immigrant cuisines and the eateries that represent them here and in other countries.
Thank you again for the great recommendation on Noodle Boy! I know our board must’ve talked about it in the past, but I was silly in thinking it was something else (Noodle Planet related restaurant).
Chili Sauce?! No I didn’t try it. Should I have used it on the Wonton Noodle Soup? I’ll give it a try next time, thanks.
And wow, I had no idea Noodle Boy’s Sergio left the building. What’s crazy is that even now (if Sergio left), Noodle Boy’s Wonton Noodle Soup is so much better than all of the other places we tried this at recently. I can’t imagine how much better it used to be then.
I hope you get a chance to try Ruby BBQ and Monterey Palace for the Roast Pork (and Suckling Pig!).
Hong Kong? Yes, I was lucky enough to travel there, but years ago. That was just when I was learning about good food (and I’m still learning to this day). The Dim Sum we had in Hong Kong really blew away (and still blows away) everything we had here except some stand out dishes from Dragon Beaux.
I can’t speak for roast duck Cantonese, but for roast goose the ideal preparation is pretty much exactly as you described…rub the marinade, pump air into the duck through the neck into the body to inflate (it helps loosen the skin from the meat), then the goose is boiled. To enhance the crispiness of the skin, it is said that a mixture of white vinegar and molasses (reduced to a solution) is splashed onto the goose, covering as much of the skin, before air drying (apparently without the assist of fans) is how the old masters do it. Charcoal roasting would be the most ideal not because of the aroma, but more so for temperature control (more natural and gradual bringing down of temperature) thus reducing the risk of over roasting or flash roasting too quickly, and allowing the fat and juices to be retained within. At least that’s what the hardcore traditionalists believe makes a goose great.
Yes - enjoyed both. The pork belly was just as you described. The duck not as much so. But we were there later in the day. Also, transporting it back to the Westside didn’t help. Still - head and shoulders above the usual suspects.
Very informative, thanks. I guess that explains why there was almost no Cantonese Roast Duck that had any crispness in the skin. I remember reading all of the posts here and on our old board about the sad state of Peking Duck as well. I’m guessing it’s also a similar problem / challenge (in trying to properly prepare the duck)? Kinda sad.