Woo Hoo! The Return of the Legendary, Made-To-Order, Fresh Steamed Buns and Dumplings! Noodle House Reopens as Noodle House (Fu Fang Yuan)! [Review] w/ Pics!
(Formatted with All Pictures here:
Probably one of the saddest days of 2009 was the day I learned that the simple, humble Noodle House (Mian Hsiang Yuan) on Garvey Avenue was sold to new ownership, with the entire kitchen staff replaced. Long gone were the wonderful, made-to-order Steamed Buns (Baozi) and Dumplings (Jiaozi), replaced by a solid product, but much different from the original Noodle House's offerings. I had figured they cashed in and moved on to other things, but thanks to the update from yangster, it seems that the original Chef and staff of Noodle House have moved to a new location in Rowland Heights. Ecstatic, I quickly wrangled one of my SGV Hounds and off we went in search of this new incarnation. :)
While Noodle House has kept their English name, their Chinese name has been changed to Fu Fang Yuan. Stepping inside, and it's a huge, clean, well-lit space. The kitchen is about 4 times the size of their old location, with a nice glass window to see their cooking in action. We recognize the servers and spot Chef-Owner Hua Shu Qi and her staff, focused and hard at work making more Steamed Buns and Dumplings.
For those that have never been to the original Noodle House (Mian Hsiang Yuan) on Garvey Avenue, its standout characteristic was their fantastic, made-from-scratch, *made-to-order* Tianjin Baozi (Steamed Buns, Tianjin style) and Jiaozi (Dumplings). Most Baozi that you find around town, even at the great Dim Sum palaces in the San Gabriel Valley (or at specialty shops selling Baozi by the bagful) have been made in large batches earlier in the day (or the previous night) and usually turn out a bit mealy, dried out or too thick and rubbery. Not so at Noodle House (early on), when, as you ordered your Baozi, they would take out the dough and start rolling it out and making your Steamed Buns from scratch when you ordered it! The difference in texture compared to most found in L.A. was truly like night and day.
Thankfully, the new Noodle House (Fu Fang Yuan) (with all the original kitchen staff and Chef Hua back at the helm) continue their original tradition, which is simply fantastic! :)
(Note: All Chinese names are listed phonetically to help for ordering. Thanks again to my SGV Hounds for the pronunciation guide. :)
(Note 2: Noodle House uses No MSG in any of their offerings. According to our server, that's one of Chef Hua's cooking philosophies: She's had an allergic reaction to MSG ever since she was a little girl growing up in China, and over the 20+ years of making Steamed Buns and Dumplings in Tianjin, China and now here in the U.S., she refuses to use the flavor crystals.)
We begin with a simple appetizer of Ban Fu Pi (Soy Bean Skin in Garlic Sauce), which takes Tofu Skin and mixes it with Garlic, Cilantro and Carrot slivers for a light starter.
Their Jiang Nio Rou (Simmered Beef Shank) is another good starter (of the 3 times we've ordered it, it's been consistently good). A long-stewed, marinated Beef Shank is chilled and sliced thin, and served with Cilantro and Green Onions. The Soy Sauce marinade and natural Beef flavors come shining through.
One thing to note for long-time fans of Noodle House is that Chef Hua has greatly expanded the menu: There are quite a few more flavors of Steamed Buns and Dumplings and they've even added in Shao Mai and Wontons (though the Wontons won't be ready until they settle in a bit more, according to our server).
Their San Hsien Shao Mai (Combination Seafood Shao Mai) is made with Shrimp, Marinated Ground Pork and Sea Cucumber, steamed in a freshly-made Dumpling skin.
The Marinated Ground Pork is so savory and juicy, and the nice large chunks of Shrimp and Sea Cucumber and bits of Chinese Chives makes this a wonderful flavor explosion! :) The thicker Dumpling skin for this Shao Mai (compared to their Dumplings) is just fine, still very pliable and a good counterpoint to the filling. It's a nice change from the more commonly found Cantonese-style Shao Mai at Dim Sum restaurants.
For those that found the original Noodle House a bit too light on the seasoning will be happy to know that they've seasoned their fillings just a touch more (if you could put a number on it, it feels like about a 5% - 10% increase in seasonings, nothing to overpower or overseason).
Then our Ji Rou Bao (Chicken with Mushrooms Bun) arrives.
Like the very first time I went to the original Noodle House, I had wandered over to see the kitchen staff rolling out the dough as my order was placed and then making the Baozi (Steamed Buns) from scratch and stuffing them. This is definitely a rarity in So Cal and taking a bite...
Just as fluffy, moist and outstanding as before, but even more so! (^_^)
This Chicken with Mushroom Steamed Bun is a new menu item at this new location, using liberal amounts of Dohng Gu (Chinese Black Mushrooms) with marinated Chicken to create a very woodsy, earthy, and fragrant Steamed Bun flavor. This is probably their boldest flavor offering, a bit more salty than the other flavors, but still enjoyable.
Finally, for this first visit I couldn't leave without trying my long-time favorite Fish Dumplings and seeing how they fared with the change to the new location. Their Yu Rou Shwei Jiao (Fish with Vegetable (Boiled) Dumplings) arrive, looking just as plump and tender as before.
The first nibble answers all my questions and quells any worries I might've had: Light, pillowy and airy, the fresh ground Lohng Li (Grey Sole) is mixed with Jio Tsai Huang (Yellow Chinese Chives) and it's simply outstanding! :) A must order.
Note: If you're new to eating Chinese Dumplings (Boiled, Steamed or Pan-Fried), it's perfectly fine to use the condiments found on every table, creating your own dipping sauce with the Vinegar, Soy Sauce and Hot Sauce. I prefer just a dab of Vinegar for my Dumplings.
On my 2nd visit, we arrive bright and early and find the restaurant is already ~50% full despite it being open for only about ~1.5 weeks.
We begin with another new flavor offering on their Dumpling side: Yang Rou Goqi Shwei Jiao (mistranslated as "Mutton with Medlar Dumpling" on the menu), a mixture of real Mutton (older Sheep) with Wolfberries (Goji Berries).
The Mutton is unmistakable in its intense, in-your-face pungency (which my guest and I love), but the Goji Berries are just a bit too sweet for this filling, giving this Dumpling an almost dessert-like quality and feeling it bit out-of-place.
Curious about how their Noodles have changed since the move, we order their Hohng Shao Nio Jing Mian (Stewed Beef Tendon Noodle Soup).
Starting with a sip, there's a very light, beefy Broth with a subtle hand on the Soy Sauce usage and quiet notes of Star Anise. The bits of Green Onions add the perfect herbal counterpoint. The Beef Broth could use another hour or two of stewing to intensify the flavors, but it's just fine for anyone looking for a lighter, No MSG, Beef Noodle Soup.
Noodle House makes all their Noodles from scratch as well, but these are Hand-Kneaded, Machine Cut Noodles (not Hand-Pulled "Sho La" style). It's a soft, competent Noodle, with just a touch of chew, but there are better Noodles out there depending on one's preference. The Beef Tendon is perfect, though, wonderful in its soft, gelatinous, silky and savory taste.
Trying another classic Chinese Noodle dish, their Zha Jiang Mian (listed as "Pork Soybean Pasta Noodle") serves their Sauteed Ground Pork and Bean Paste Sauce on the side (for the customer to choose how much they want to add in).
The Noodle used in this dish is a wider style Noodle than the Beef Soup version, a touch too doughy, but a fine pairing with their obsidian-colored Sauce. When mixed together with the Cucumber, Cilantro, Green Onions, Carrots, Bean Sprouts and Bean Paste Sauce, it creates a lightly coated Noodle dish with a nice balance of crunch and chew, a good Vegetable balance with notes of sweet and salty. It's a good Zha Jiang Mian, but there are better.
On my 3rd visit, I bring a dear guest from Shanghai to try out the offerings at Noodle House (Fu Fang Yuan) (they ended really enjoying this meal). We start with their Liang Bahn Hai Dai Hsi (Cold Shredded Seaweed).
This is a great incarnation of this Chinese appetizer, with a nice brininess mixed in with the fragrant Cilantro, Carrots and Onions.
Their Jiang Nio Jing (Simmered Beef Tendon) appetizer is stewed to the point that the Beef Tendon still has a good bite with each piece (not overly soft), and enjoyable with bits of fresh Cilantro. Spicy fans should ask for some Chili Oil to dab each piece in.
Our first order arrives, and I'm secretly hoping this classic original Noodle House dish remains the same, and thankfully it does: Tuh Suh Cong Yoh Bing (Green Onion Pancake).
In line with Chef Hua's original cooking style (seen in the Steamed Buns and Dumplings), Noodle House's Green Onion Pancakes are very light and not oily at all compared to the majority of Cong Yoh Bings around L.A. Instead of being drenched in oil, these are so light and fragrant, with only a touch of oiliness (and a very clean tasting oil as well), it's a must order for those enjoying a lighter version of this classic.
Then our Zhu Rou Hsi Ji Doh Bao (Pork with String Bean Buns) arrive next.
Digging into the Baozi (Steamed Bun), it's just as moist and pillowy as I had hoped, and the filling has consistently been my favorite for their Baozi: The Marinated Ground Pork is simply a brilliant complement to the String Beans, a very even-keeled vegetal undertone that gives this Baozi a real succulence. Delicious! :)
Noodle House's Nio Rou Jhuen Bing (Beef Roll) follows a similar approach as the rest of the dishes with a very light, non-oily preparation.
I can appreciate their Beef Roll, but today's version is undercooked: The Simmered Beef hasn't been cooked long enough resulting in a very chewy, tougher filling with some gristle as well that hasn't broken down. It's basted with a little bit of the sweet Hoisin Sauce and Cilantro. The flavors are good, but it just needs a little more cooking for the Beef.
Thankfully it seems like it was a fluke as other orders (before and after this visit) have had a more tender, edible cut.
Noodle House offers all of their Dumplings in 3 preparation methods: Zhen Jiao (Steamed Dumplings), Shwei Jiao (Boiled Dumplings) and Guo Tieh (Potsticker (although it's more of a Jien Jiao (Pan Seared) than a more traditional Guo Tieh)). And people will be happy to know that with the expanded kitchen and more staff, they are making the Potsticker version of their Dumplings with no restrictions now (at their original location, when they were overwhelmed with orders at times, they would stop making them because they took longer and backed up the limited cookers).
Looking over their options, we settle on their Hsia Ren Doh Fu Guo Tieh (Shrimp with Tofu Dumpling, Potsticker style).
The Pan Seared Dumpling has a nice sear and adds a heartier aspect to the usual light Dumplings, but it's the filling that really shines: The nice chunks of medium-sized Shrimp completely works with the Tofu and Chinese Chives filling, creating this creaminess and giving the usual Shrimp Dumpling a boost in airiness. Wonderful!
For something even lighter than normal, give their Hwa Soo Zhun Jiao ("Vegetable Dumpling", Steamed style) a try.
Chef Hua combines Egg, Cabbage, Rice Vermicelli, Green Onions and Baby Shrimp and steams the Dumplings. The Steaming method gives the Dumplings a bit more of a drier pasta mouthfeel. It has more of a chew to the Dumpling skin (in comparison to the Boiled version). The filling is fragrant, oceany and pretty light.
The kitchen has just finished up a batch of Chilled Vinegar Cucumbers and are putting them out in their display case, so we decide to try some. They're crisp, refreshing and lightly seasoned with a little Sesame Oil and Vinegar and some Garlic.
On my 4th visit, I quickly place an order for some Baozi when we sit down to mitigate some of the waiting time. (Note: Patience is the key at Noodle House. They make all their Baozi (Steamed Buns) and Jiaozi (Dumplings) from scratch, when you order, including rolling out the skin itself, which is really nice. As a result it takes a bit more time than what one might be accustomed to, but it's worth it. :)
Their Zhu Rou Jio Tsai Bao ("Pork with Leek Bun") arrives first.
The Steamed Buns are thankfully just as consistently moist and delicious as always, the delightful smell of freshly-made Baozi brings a smile to your face. :) The Jio Tsai (Chinese Chives) give the Marinated Ground Pork a grassy, fields of green aroma and is a classic combination.
Next up is the Shuang Gu Zhu Rou Shwei Jiao (Double Mushroom with Pork Dumplings, Boiled style).
Chef Hua uses 2 types of Chinese Mushrooms mixed in with the Marinated Ground Pork. If you love Mushrooms, this is the must order item. It's so fragrant and woodsy and has many of the qualities of a long-cooked, Shiitake-infused creation.
Their Zhu Rou Gao Li Tsai Shwei Jiao (mistranslated as "Pork w/ Cole Dumpling") is actually Marinated Ground Pork with Cabbage Boiled Dumplings.
Cabbage seems like a boring vegetable to cook with but it makes for a nice variation of the usual fillings, giving a good crunch and textural contrast with the soft, supple and pliable Dumpling skin.
Another new item is their Hsien Bei Zhu Rou Guo Tieh (Pork with Scallop Dumplings, Potsticker style).
The kitchen staff seems to be settling in more and more over time, as these Guo Tieh feature a beautiful golden crisp crust outside, really adding a nice crunch to the Dumplings as you work your way through each bite. The Marinated Ground Pork is still fine, but the Scallops reveal too much of their age; they taste a touch too briny but in principle the combination seems fine.
One of the more under appreciated aspects of Noodle House is that, like their other items, they make their Soups to order, when you order it; there's no giant vat of Soup Du Jour that's been sitting all day. And one of the simplest soups that shines the brightest would have to their Suan La Tahng (Hot & Sour Soup).
This often overlooked, much-maligned style of Soup has taken its fair share of criticism and understandably so: It's usually given away as a throwaway free Soup of the Day with takeout Chinese food, seen as "Americanized" or "Poor People's Food," etc. And while Noodle House's version of Hot & Sour Soup isn't anything grand or showy, this made-to-order, made-from-scratch version is probably the best Hot & Sour Soup I've ever eaten, anywhere.
Instead of the commonplace gloopy, corn starch-laden versions, Chef Hua's creation glides along the perfect edge of tantalizing tartness from the Chinese Black Vinegar and sexy spiciness from the White Pepper. Mix in the satisfying crunch of Bamboo Shoots, the silky Tofu, Egg, Cilantro, Green Onions and Mushrooms and there's just something really soul-warming about this fresh-made version. :)
Their Yang Rou Dohng Gua Shwei Jiao (Mutton with White Gourd Boiled Dumplings) fare much better than the Goji Berry version, with a very bold, strong Mutton gaminess coming through (in a good way). It's much more savory than the other Mutton Dumpling, with a good, rustic chunky quality being the best part of this dish.
We finish off with their simply named Yu Wan Tahng (Fish Ball Soup). Like their Fish Dumplings, Noodle House uses the same in-house made Fish mixture, with Grey Sole and Egg Whites. Taking a bite of the made-from-scratch Fish Balls is like biting into a cloud: It's *so* airy, fluffy and light, nearly rivaling Torihei's Kyoto-style Hanpen (Fish Cake) for the most delectable Fish dish I've tried this year.
Add to that, the very light Chicken Broth with bits of Cilantro to accompany this Fish Ball Soup and it's the perfect cold weather friend. Simply lovely.
While they now have ~3 or 4 servers covering the much larger location, service is still the standard, informal Chinese restaurant service you come to expect at many mom-and-pop shops around the area: You just flag down any roaming server if you want refills on drinks or need anything else. Prices have increased slightly from their original location (which was beyond fair), ranging from $1.99 - $6.99 for Appetizers; and $1.99 - $9.25 for the various Soups, Dumplings and Steamed Buns. They now accept Credit Cards as well. We averaged about ~$12 per person (including tax and tip)(!), a very fair price for the wonderful, freshly made dishes.
With the original chef and staff of the old Noodle House finally opening Fu Fang Yuan (Noodle House), L.A. has gotten back one of its little treasures, with a Baozi (Steamed Buns) and Jiaozi (Dumplings) Specialist that focuses on lighter flavors with No MSG. While orders still take a little while to get out (since they make everything from scratch, when you order it), with some patience, this new Noodle House is even better than before, a bit more savory, a bit stronger and more focused in its creations.
With their delicious Pork with String Bean Baozi, the Fish (Grey Sole) Boiled Dumplings, Shrimp with Tofu Dumplings, Double Mushroom with Pork, their Green Onion Pancakes, wonderful Hot & Sour Soup and Fish Ball Soup (and so many more choices), Fu Fang Yuan (Noodle House) is off to a spectacular start. Highly recommended.
(Note: In general, the half-life of fresh Dumplings and Steamed Buns is ridiculously short (minutes). If you're planning on ordering a bunch of flavors, it's best to place an order first (just 1 or 2 items) and then wait a bit before placing a follow-up order with more items. That way you ensure you're getting fresh, just-out-of-the-kitchen goodness. Otherwise the Dumplings and Buns erode really fast (skin get tougher and the vibrancy disappears).)
*** Rating: 9.2 (out of 10.0) ***
Noodle House (Fu Fang Yuan)
18219 E. Gale Avenue, #A
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Tel: (626) 839-8806
Hours: [Lunch] Mon - Fri, 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Sat - Sun, 11:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
[Dinner] 7 Days A Week, 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Noodle House (Fu Fang Yuan
)18219 Gale Ave., #A, Rowland Heights, CA 91748
First time there I ordered 3 items. Cucumber cold dish, pork & preserved cabbage dumpllings steamed and scallion pancake. I ate most of it, but what I didn't finish reheated very well. The scallion pancake reheated in a non-stick pan for minute made a particularlly good breakfast.
Based on your review, returning from Palm Springs to LA, I deliberately decided to try the new Noodle House to scout the place before scheduling a big group meal with my LA Sushi & Asian Foodies Meetup Group www.AsianFoodies.info. Being that most of our group are in the LA area, this restaurant is now a bit far for most of us to travel to as a destination. I look for restaurants that I could go to during the week, but this one is now too far and for me personally, I'd only come here on the weekend or on the way back from Palm Springs where my folks live.
I loved the old Noodle House and they were very accommodating to our group in the past with rocking food. On my solo visit to the new place, I was a bit disappointed unfortunately. The food was a bit bland which no problem, I can simply crank up the vinegar and hot sauce in my dipping sauce. The pancake also seemed ordinary and well... to make a long story short... I canned my planned event there as I didn't feel it was good enough to make the long drive from Hollywood.
Certainly the place has decent/good food, but IMHO, there's dozens of places with as good or better food that is much closer to me, so with regret can only give it an average billing.
I do love the huge dining room, the open kitchen and the nice efficient staff... the venue is awesome for BIG groups like us. I just wish it was closer in town.
Thank you for the detailed report back. I'm sorry to hear it didn't turn out well, and hearing ipse's feedback as well, I think their expansion has hurt them. Specifically because now it's Chef Hua (who can only do so much) + 6 different Line Cooks (by my last observation there). Some of the drop in quality is probably due to having the majority of the dishes go through the helpers and not her (6 Line Cooks vs. 1 out of 6 times it goes through Chef Hua).
I haven't been back in quite some time, so it'd be unfortunate if it got worse that fast. I agree that the new location is even further and more inconvenient for many on the west/mid/downtown area (unless you lived in the area).
I went Friday at about 5:45pm the place was not crowded nor was it empty. The food was very good. I had the pork with preserved cabbage (Suan Tsai), green onion pancake and cold cucumber. The dumplings were well seasoned moist and skin alot thicker than ipsedixit mentioned. I made a dipping sause of the guilin chili sauce, soy sauce and vinigar that was at the table as my waitress recommended. It complmented the dumplings wonderfully. The onion pancake was as exhilekiss said not at all greasey. It also reheats real well in a non-stick pan. I hearitly recommend it for breakfast. The cucmuber was delicately seasoned, cool crisp, a really good starter.
This maybe a hit or miss place depending what time a person goes threre. I plan to hit it for take out this afternoon after work (I noticed many people ordering take out). It's a good day for northern Chinese dumplings, cold and rainy. Maybe some soup too.
Thanks for your report back. They sold out of the Pork w/ Preserved Cabbage twice when we went, so I'll have to try that next time I'm in the area. :)
Yah, of the 4 times we went, 1 of the times had 2 plates of Dumplings come out with the thin skin that ipsedixit ran into. I chalked it up to a fluke since all the other dumplings we got from our other visits had a thicker skin. But maybe not after ipse got it as well. Maybe one of their line cooks rolls the skin too thin, while the other ~3-4 cooks don't?
Love their Green Onion Pancake as well. :)
The pork with pickled cabbage were very tasty. I wish they had the suan tsai at the table like at Dragon Mark. It’s one of those condiment I could eat all day. Yesterday I tried to order take out over the phone as I drove towards The Noodle House without success. It turns out they don't have a dedicated line for their credit card machine so the mainline was disconnected. Nonetheless I ordered when I got there.
Chicken with mushroom bun, pork with string bean potsticker, soy bean skin with garlic sauce and hot & sour soup. I ask if they could make the hot & sour soup without egg (I am ova intolerant) and they happily did. The hot & sour soup really hit the spot on a cold and rainy night. The dumplings and buns where fine with the right application of heat. They chewiness of the dumpling skin was just right. The soy bean skin was like eating really good fresh pasta, light and delicate.
I’d like to try some of the vegetarian offering. Exilekiss do you know what the difference is between the vegetarian dumpling and the vegetable dumpling? I see that other people have had problems but so far I have not.
Thanks for the detailed description. Their Hot & Sour Soup is another good item to order.
It's funny you ask about the 2 "Vegetarian Dumplings": I was puzzled as well. Our waiter clarified and said that the first one (the one I wrote about in my original post) is vegetables with Baby Shrimp and Egg. The 2nd one listed beneath it is all vegetables (no Shrimp). Not sure if they have Egg in the 2nd one or not (you should ask to make sure).
What a let down.
This place is entirely overrated and, worse of all, overpriced.
The dumplings were a mess. While I thought the pork dumplings were very bland (the fish ones were even more tasteless, bordering on insipid), preferences on the level of savoriness vary and so respectable positions can differ.
But the major problem with the pork dumplings was with the fillings. The cabbage was not chopped fine enough and they did not squeeze enough of the water out of the cabbage before mixing with the pork. So what happens? You end up with really "loose" fillings that taste like water boiled pork sausages. Not a good thing. The saving grace was the gratis table side chili.
Another problem with the dumplings: the skin. Now, there are 2 schools of thought on dumpling skins -- thick and masculine, or the thinner, more dainty version. But in either case there needs to be the requisite "Q-ness" to the dough, or "chewiness" if you will. At Noodle House, the dough is definitely on the thinner, dainty side, which is fine, but it has not the slightless hint of Q-ness whatsoever. The dough resembles more wonton skin -- it's wispy to a fault -- than what a traditional dumpling skin should be.
And, please don't get me started on the beef noodle soup. The beef is not stewed long enough, so that it is too chewy (ah, the irony, the beef is too chewy but the dumpling skins are too supple) and the broth reminds me of canned beef stock. Beef noodle soup needs to be robust in flavor -- it should smack you across the head and say "I've been caged inside a big pot for hours on end just waiting to unleash my potency upon your tongue!" ... instead this version plays coy like a shy teenager. What gives?!!!
Maybe this was an off day. Maybe not. Whatever. But if I want dumplings of this type, I'll go to 10053, and if I want to actually "buy" beef noodle soup, I'll save my 10 bucks for Dai Ho or Luscious Dumplings.
Went about 11:40am today and it was almost full inside. Sat down and ordered almost immediately from exilekiss' recs. During the meal the dishes started to come slower. Looking around the room I noticed several tables with people waiting for their orders and not eating anything. About 12:45 we were still waiting for our last dish the steamed chicken mushroom buns when the waitress came by our table with the check and pointed asking if we got the one order which was unchecked. I couldn't read it (was in Chinese), but remembered it was the second item I ordered. I said yes, we didn't get the chicken mushroom buns. About 10 minutes later the chicken mushroom buns came out. Took a bite and noticed some of the chicken inside was uncooked. I imagine another 5 minutes and the chicken would have been fully cooked. Didn't finish buns but I told the guy who delivered the check, a young fellow with a wild haircut and he appologized profusely, but that was all. We packed them to go and will reheat and cook them at home.
I also asked for a certain dumpling to be steamed, but they said it doesn't come steamed only boiled or pan fried....the pork & leek dumpling. I thought all dumplings come either steamed, boiled or pan fried.
But, looking around the room they were seriously in the weeds and maybe the "make to order" isn't as practical with as large a location as they have now.
Thanks for the detailed report. I was lucky enough not to have dined at their peak capacity; sorry to hear that they couldn't keep up with the orders fast enough (and rushed 1 dish).
That is weird to hear about the no steamed version of the pork & leek. It seems like it'd be OK (on their menu they list all 3 options as a possibility), but it's good to know about that flavor.
It seems even though they hired ~2-3 extra people in the kitchen, the increase in capacity of diners may not work out; here's to hoping they can get more efficient (or hire more help). Thanks again.
No need for you to apologize. Last week we went on Sunday right when they opened at 11 and no problem, but I could see the potential of a backlog then if the place filled up. But, it was quite noticeable people sitting around with nothing in front of them waiting for their orders. Ordered the beef tendon noodle soup and it was a little hotter than last week when we ordered the beef stew noodle soup.
I did notice there were two more people in the back working because they weren't wearing the yellow shirts and hats to cover their hair.
"Noodle House uses No MSG in any of their offerings. According to our server, that's one of Chef Hua's cooking philosophies."
I call B.S.
The kitchen may not *add* any additional MSG, but almost any of the seasonings that they use in the bao/dumpling fillings will have naturally occuring MSG (e.g. soy sauce, etc.)
To say that that the restaurant uses "No MSG" would definitely sound the alarm bells at the FTC ... if those old foagies actually cared about dumplings and what-not.
The attorney I generally consult before posting to chowhound.com went over to Panda Express for lunch, so I'm just going to wing it here. EK's full statement was:
"Noodle House uses No MSG in any of their offerings. According to our server, that's one of Chef Hua's cooking philosophies: She's had an allergic reaction to MSG ever since she was a little girl growing up in China, and over the 20+ years of making Steamed Buns and Dumplings in Tianjin, China and now here in the U.S., she refuses to use the flavor crystals."
That last phrase makes clear the restaurant is claiming they don't "use the flavor crystals" -- i.e., the food additive, monosodium glutamate -- but says nothing about the natural free glutamic acid content of their food. Indeed (I love saying "indeed" in these kinds of discussions ;-), the review notes several mushroom dishes, and everyone knows that mushrooms contain glutamic acid, which is one reason Italians use them so freely to enhance otherwise bland veal.
Oh-oh, here comes my lawyer. Let me send this off quickly -- sorry for any typing errirs or misinterpretations of Section II, paragraph one of all relevant codes.
Good point. I'm just listing what our server told us, but definitely any dish that uses Soy Sauce in general would have trace amounts of it in there, unless they used some rarer, super-healthy alternative versions of Soy Sauce (which they don't). I've appended my review to say that they don't add any.
Oh man exilekiss, you're KILLING me here......... I was sitting at my desk with a bowl of irish oatmeal, sliced bananas, agave syrup and cinnamon (Penzey's Vietnamese Cassia!) but one look at your photos made me realize how much more I want... those..... baozi........
Damn I wish there was a place ilke this in Northern California...
Interesting that a Northern style dumpling, noodles, and misc place would offer a somewhat "Southern" soup (Yu Wan Tang)....this must be for targeting the Taiwanese expat tastebuds. Was there any stuffing or non fish meat inside the fishball by the core/center? If so then that would be Fuzhou style Yu Wan Tang, which in Taiwan they stuff the interior with finely grounded pork (almost like a paste). There are parts that use unagi instead of pork. As for the fish, in Taipei's Danshui area, the type used is shark.
re: K K
Hi K K,
Yah, it's definitely interesting. I think when they developed their filling for the Fish Dumplings (Grey Sole, Egg Whites) and realized how fluffy and airy it was, that they tried a Fish Ball Soup with the same ingredient (and it's really lovely). There's no stuffing in the Fish Balls, just Grey Sole and Egg Whites (and whatever seasonings Chef Hua uses).
If you're back in So Cal and get to try it, please report back on how it turned out. :)
thanks so very much for your exhaustive research on the re-open. simply cannot wait to try this out - VERY bummed when I found out (too late) that the first one closed.
can you give us an idea of pricing, and do they do buns for dinner, or is just lunch?
really well written review - thanks for your time and energy...
Thanks. :) Prices range from $1.99 - $6.99 for Appetizers; and $1.99 - $9.25 for the various Soups, Dumplings and Steamed Buns. They now accept Credit Cards as well. We averaged about ~$12 per person (including tax and tip).
And they serve the full menu for Lunch and Dinner. Please report back if you end up going. :)
... hich makes this place ludicrously expensive for the SGV. Have had the full menu on hand and during the first week of opening (blistering hot September), they stocked no naeng myun.
The noodles, tho shaven, is vastly subpar to the ilks of JTYH and Liang's. Beef stock in the NRM reeks of only murky spiciness and salt, with no complexity. At nearly $10/bowl post tip / tax, this is a complete rip off (only relative to other SGV venues).
To add insult, various bao's have been bumped up to $8/order, averaging each bao out to $1.
It's understandable, with the extremely large new dining room, the cost of this Eastern restaurant has risen. This doesn't mean the diners want to pay more for the same fare being dished out all over town. And yes, people are STILL dipping the baos in soy sauce which has always yielded a deplorable form of dough-soaked MSG. Why? Still bland.
Definitely agree that the increase in prices is unfortunate, but I'd rather get Fu Fang Yuan's made-to-order Baozi over the ones I've tried so far (made in batches in the morning or in the afternoon) from various places my SGV friends have taken me to. And as much as I love good Dim Sum (I know it's a different type), even Elite and Sea Harbor's Baozi are just too mealy, dry, disappointing (for the dough/skin itself).
Sorry to hear you think it's still bland; my guests and I thought they were seasoned just fine, but, again, that's what makes food so interesting: One person's "just fine" is another person's "too salty" or "too bland."