Woon (Historic Filipinotown): A Pictorial Essay

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.

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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.

RECOMMENDED.

Woon
2920 W. Temple St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
213.674.7434
woonkitchen.com

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Dude that fried rice looks absolutely beautiful! Gai lan stems should really be utilized more often.

Mama Fong’s Shanghai Cu Chow Mein has to be one of the best noodle dishes in LA right now. Anyone reading this make sure to add a little white vinegar and chilli sauce.

Were you able to speak to Mama Fong and Son? When I did they voiced that they will have traditional Shanghainese food like Lions Head.

Looks like I’ll skip on the Xiao Tsai stuff for now

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I popped in last night for a quick dinner and ordered the beef noodles and the soy veggie wraps. I agree w/ JL’s assessment. The noodles were really yummy–good quality ingredients and cooking skill. I liked the flavor of the wraps, but thought that they were a tad greasy and could have used a bit more veggies inside (they were packed loosely). I sat outside on the patio as they had a full house inside (no heater lamps, so I was glad the temp was comfortable). Cute space and really nice folks. I’ll be back soon to check out the fried rice…and yes, yes, yes I wish they had beer----that was the major missing component.

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Stopped in and had the noodles they had great chew. Would rank it as a solid but not travel worthy place.

I don’t really want to get into the whole why should/don’t ppl charge more money for non-westernized/Japanese cuisine debate but be aware the portion is very very small (I ate my small bowl in about 2 min flat).

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You are true to your screen handle, hungryhungryhippos!

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That fried rice! If there were a glutinous rice option for that, it would be perfect.

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I certainly get that—I just stopped in and got an order of beef noodles and fried rice to go (cuz I have beer @ home) and it was $ 24 + tip. It certainly is more $ than driving to SGV for a large plate of noodles or a family size order of fried rice. Buuuuuttttt—both the noodles and rice were great and it’s a 5 minute drive for me.

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Shanghai Cu Chow Mein is usually an afterthought at SGV Shanghainese places. Woon Kitchen actually gives it its respect. I am certain that there is no one doing it better than Woon in the SGV.

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Yeah definitely a good neighborhood spot

Andy Wang thinks of it as more of a destination…

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great article!

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Just returned from lunch there today. Without a doubt, the best pork belly bao I have ever tasted! And they do have their beer and wine license now.

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Wow! That’s high praise. Looks like I gotta go back!

I’ve never heard of Historic Filipinotown referred to as Hifi. heh.

excellent! Thanks for the update. I’m looking forward to noodles and beer on the patio!

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I made a visit!

I attended a pop up of theirs last year and they remembered me! I loved their noodles so here I am back to show support of the new restaurant!


Fried Rice (Chinese Sausage, Gai Lan Stems, Egg, a little Black Rice). This will be a regular part of the menu even though it is listed as “Special”. Great use of gai lan stems! I love it with the Chinese sausage.


Beef Noodles/Shanghai Cu Chow Mein.
Great wok breathe, great chew on the noodles, taste so good with a little vinegar and chile sauce!!
I absolutely love this dish. There is no better version in SGV. Trust!

Yes, I spoke with Mom and Son and there will be lionshead coming! They just need to scale it and to ensure the quality. Might be daily limited.

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Heads will roll… :smiley:

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Just got some beef noodles and fried rice to go for lunch. It was a bit too overcast to eat outside today. They have added beer and a small but interesting selection of natural wines to go with the food. The noodles were great as usual but I thought my rice was more flavorful last time. FYI—they are having a grand opening event tonight with a limited menu, beer, mezcal and a dj if anybody is interested.

https://www.woonkitchen.com/blog/

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Just looking at those noodles you can tell they chew well.

I don’t feel that this place is any better than the average SGV joint. The noodle dish is full of wok hei but noodle texture is as gummy as play dough and sticks to my teeth quite a bit. 0 bounce as you can tell in the last picture when I pressed down on it with a spoon.

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