Historic Filipinotown has been a hotbed of culinary activity of late. One of the recent openings on my radar had been Julie “Mama” Fong’s brick and mortar joint, called simply Woon (‘woon’ is the Cantonese way of pronouncing ‘bowl’). Despite its Cantonese name, the cuisine there is described as Shanghai-influenced. Before securing the restaurant space along Temple Street, Chef Mama Fong and her son Keegan were slinging noodles from a cart at various pop-ups around town.
Having just debuted only one week ago, Woon was not too busy in the mid-afternoon as I sauntered in. There is a nice outdoor patio seating area, but I really liked sitting at the long table by the window within the dining room, as natural light floods the room.
The menu selection features three salads/appetizers, three side dishes, and two types of noodles. Heck - I’ll make it easier on the order and take ONE OF EACH! Total cost of this OOE venture: A tad north of $70.
Peanuts stir-fired in sea moss… Goes well with the Apple Sidra to whet the appetite! (The liquor license at Woon is pending…)
Smashed radish, tossed with marinade… Crunchy and pickled bites.
Chilled cucumber & tofu, with diced cucumber, baked tofu and cilantro, tossed with marinade… A nice blend, but I would have liked these a bit more if they would slice each piece just a bit smaller.
Wood ear mushroom & bean curd stick, with cilantro, stir-fried with garlic marinade… Again, I would have enjoyed this dish even more if the pieces were just cut into smaller bites.
Pork belly bao, with slow-braised pork belly, mustard greens, house-pickled carrots & cucumbers, cilantro, in a steamed Chinese bun… Pretty good, but in a city chock full of pork belly baos, the version at Woon strikes me quite passable, but nothing truly outstanding.
Soy veggie wraps, with bean sprouts, leeks, baked tofu, bean curd sheets… Decent.
Fried tofu fishcakes, with tofu cake, stuffed & topped with fish paste, crispy fried… This was well-executeD and quite good. The fish paste is not funky in the Southeast Asian sense, but does work to harmonize nicely with the crispy outside of the fried tofu cake.
Mama Fong’s fried rice, with Chinese sausage, eggs, Chinese broccoli stems and scallions… Brilliant! This daily special (not on the usual menu) is my favorite fried rice in L.A. right now. The lap cheong sausage and broccoli stems really energizes the rice, which is suffused with tremendous wok hei flavor. This reminded me of the gorgeous street stall fried rice so commonly found in the major cities of the southern China!
Veggie noodles, with Woon homestyle chewy noodles, bok choy, shiitake & oyster mushrooms, all stir-fried… Man, that wok hei at Woon is so nicely done! These are noodles with lots of ‘Q’ which truly soak up the wok hei essence of stir-frying. Bravo!
Beef noodles, with Woon homestyle chewy noodles, marinated flank steak, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, all stir-fried… Again! The wok hei spirit rules here. The tasty beef is juicy and abundant in this dish. These noodles are not greasy, yet redolent of the experienced breath of the wok. The restaurant itself may have only been opened for a week, but one can taste that this wok has lived and worked its magic for quite some time! Just a spectacular noodle dish!
No desserts on the menu, but I’m told Mama Fong is working on getting them on the menu!
Wonderful incense in the restroom…
Service was brisk and friendly. Water is self-served.
Overall, my meal at Woon started somewhat wobbly, but once that wok was fired up, my taste buds also got all fired up! All the rice and noodle dishes here are terrific. That wok hei on Mama Fong’s fried rice and noodles dishes still haunt me. I am looking forward to coming back to Woon once they get their liquor license this summer, because those splendid noodles deserve to be partnered with nice cold beer.
2920 W. Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026