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Beef Noodle Soup Restaurant From Taiwan To Open In Irvine

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I've considered the Diamond Jamboree shopping center in Irvine to be a bit of a disappointment since there's not the panoply of Chinese cuisine I had been expecting. However, things seem to be looking up with the opening of Chef Hung in a few months.

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  1. Two of the most popular brands in Taiwan side-to-side, Chef Hung and 85C.

    My uncle says Chef Hung is like the Taiwanese version of In-N-Out. Large contingency of fanatics, and then a good group of people who just don't get the hype and accolades.

    1. Hmmm

      - the Chef Hung website is http://www.chefhungnoodle.com/
      If you look at the menu, it says prices are in Canadian $. Do a who.is search and the website was registered in Toronto.

      - The Master Hung Taipei website is

      http://www.taiwannoodle.com.tw/

      under "locations", it lists only 3 in Taipei. If you can read Chinese, under "news" there is mention of a Vancouver location opening up (news in the World Journal) dated last year, which I assume is a true branch. But the chefhungnoodle website does not mention the Vancouver location.

      There are some differences between the menus too. Taipei locations offer noodle bowls that the Irvine location will not (e.g. tomato red yeast beef noodles), and certainly not the US$30 bowl that was the winner of the 2010 beef noodle competition. Irvine location does not offer jiaozi, nor the pickled cabbage beef noodles.

      Also I have a feeling Chef Hung will not be offering the 5 various flavors of beef jerky like Master Hung in Taipei.

      Either way, I curiously await reports after June to see how it is.

      13 Replies
      1. re: K K

        It's a franchise.

        So I'd imagine each of the different geographic regions (if not individual overseas stores) would be run to their own specs, using the Chef Hung tradename and marks, as well as some of the recipes.

        It'd be just interesting to see how tight the QC is for each location. Part of the DTF expansion problems have been QC, esp. in the Singapore markets.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Not sure where Master Hung gets their beef, but the competition in Taipei generally sources beef from Australia. There are shops that use American beef, but are in the minority.

          If only the franchises would offer beef jerky, I would mail order some from Irvine...

          http://www.taiwannoodle.com.tw/cubesh...

          I suppose Irvine customer base is not going to be ready for the US$30 champion bowl (from TPE beef noodle festival 2010) that includes a giant drumstick of calf knee bone...
          circa 1:29

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT3DJH...

          1. re: K K

            I think the prices posted across the board in CN will not fly in Orange County, where you can get a good, maybe even great, bowl of beef noodle soup for $5-6.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              The funny thing is that I still have a booklet from 2009 of the Taipei beef noodle guidebook that came out around the time of the festival, which includes mini reviews by the local so called "Taipei beef noodle michelin group" (basically a bunch of beef noodle lovers) where they rate a list of publically praised shops by food quality, sanitary environment, whether the food sells well, service quality, and reasonable price. Master Hong scored a 2 stars out of a maximum four for "reasonable price", even by local standards... and there were places that got almost 4 stars on everything. Not sure how they would be rated this year, but I would imagine not too different than in 09.

          2. re: ipsedixit

            5 different kinds of beef jerky???? I'm so down.

            1. re: kevin

              kevin, you should go to Vua Kho Bo in Little Saigon... they have two dozen kinds of beef jerky and believe in liberal application of samples.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Thanks I gotta get down there only problem is until August my chowhounding is precipitiously dropping... :(

          3. re: K K

            Just spoke to the store manager at the main location in Taipei last week and can confirm that both the Vancouver and LA locations are legitimate. I didn't try the NT 888 bowl but the following were quite delicious:

            2007清燉冠軍<五花牛腩牛肉麵>
            2007紅燒冠軍麵<獨當一麵>

            1. re: hong_kong_foodie

              Thanks for the report HKF. Appreciated. Any idea if Taipei location uses Australian beef? Curious what Irvine and Vancouver use.

              1. re: K K

                Not sure, but I'll find out when I'm back in Taipei later this year.

              2. re: hong_kong_foodie

                For those who don't read Chinese, those two dishes are:

                2007 Champion of Clear Soup: Beef Noodle Soup with "Five Flowers" Brisket (wǔ huā niú nǎn niú ròu miàn)
                2007 Champion of "Red-Cooked" Noodles: "Take Responsibility" Noodles (dú dāng yī miàn)

                Red-cooking refers to a method of Chinese cooking where things are braised in fragrant soy sauce; "five flowers", I assume, refers to five cuts of beef. "Take responsibility" is just a poetic name for the dish, kind of like naming your chicken wings "git 'r done wings".

                (hong_kong_foodie, I'm sure you know this already—this is for people who find this later via a search.)

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  五花牛腩 is a particular cut of the beef belly that has 5 layers, alternating between fat and lean on top of another.

                  Nornally this is the cut of belly (from a pig) specifically for Hangzhou style dishes like braised Tung Por Rou, and as witnessed at Zhang Fei Pa Rou, a restaurant where Anthony Bourdain went to with local Alan Wang on the episode: No Reservations: Harbin in Dongbei region of China. Cantonese chefs also use 五花腩 (from a pig) for certain preps of cha siu/bbq pork, or roasted with crispy skin, which maybe 2nd tier to pork neck meat which is the rage in TW and HK these days.

                  1. re: K K

                    Excellent, thank you for the clarification!

            2. Does anyone know when the restaurant is due to open? It's June already, and I'm salivating...

              39 Replies
              1. re: solarbeat

                Company website still says opening in June. Shopping center website says opening in summer.

                1. re: solarbeat

                  Just visited the website and it says late July. Menu prices are also updated and holy cow are they ridiculous...

                  1. re: solarbeat

                    Bump. It's open.

                    I'm not burning $4/gal gas to taste $10 NRM but... feedback? Kiddie Taiwanese Yelpers seem rather pissed off, which is a bit weird, since they'd pay $9 for a bowl of ramen...

                    1. re: TonyC

                      HAHA....probably the same folk who have no problems lining up 45 mins before a popular ramen shop opens, or waiting 50 mins in line at 85C just for a piece of pastry and savory coffee.

                      1. re: TonyC

                        Not great - I wouldn't make the drive for it. I had the beef and tendon noodle soup. The broth lacked flavor and depth, and the proportion of beef to noodle seems off....it was the first time I (as a meat lover) felt that there was too much beef in NRM! They were also out of a lot of items on the menu at around 6 PM on a weekend evening.

                        1. re: TonyC

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806407

                          1. re: TonyC

                            Finally made my way down here. I had the beef brisket soup with wide noodles and I actually liked everything about it--the broth, the noodles, and the plentiful amount of beef. However I agree that it's not worth $3.50 a gallon to drive umpteen miles for a bowl of noodles which is overpriced at $10.

                            1. re: Chandavkl

                              Ok, i'll have to try it, I'm with you on that one, since I don't live in Orange County, but my be it's the charge of authenticity.

                              There's some food in OC that I just can't try in LA.

                              1. re: kevin

                                And this isn't one of them.

                                1. re: TonyC

                                  Have you tried it yet TonyC? Maybe the kiddie yelpers don't know best?

                                  Been here about a dozen times now. The brisket noodles in clear broth are excellent and the champion beef noodles with shank, tripe, and tendon have improved. Soup is more flavorful these days.

                                  Pork XLB and loofa XLB are as good as anything in SGV.

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    $10 beef noodle soup = cries

                                    although the irony of spending $10 on ramen bowls is not lost on me.

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      It's a lot of high quality brisket (2 ways). I don't see a problem with $10 NRM. There is no cheaper beef brisket 2 ways in clear broth in SGV as far as I know.

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        Since this thread got bumped recently, it has added to a heavily weighed problem of where we will dine on our way up from San Diego into Anaheim in a very short period of time. There are a few half decent writeups from the Taiwanese expat blogosphere on Chef Hung, and it seems there are still some inconsistencies, but the general mood is improvement over the past few months. Chef Hung / Brodard / Thai Nakorn / some Korean place in Garden Grove or Buena Park / or some slightly risque joint by Anaheim....it's giving me headaches now.

                                        Does the Irvine shop sell the 5+ kinds of beef jerky like the TW branches?

                                        1. re: K K

                                          Not that I know of.

                                          1. re: K K

                                            what's the risque joint in anaheim?

                                            and what's the korean place in garden grove?

                                            1. re: K K

                                              Risqué joint in Anaheim? Are you talking about Fritz's That's Too? Or California Girls? I've never had food there, but I suppose it's not out of the question. Are you limiting yourself to Asian food? Anaheim has some Asian food but it's not our forte.

                                              Brodard is fine. Do not be fooled by the giant menu. You want nem nuong cuon and whatever bún or bánh type main you feel like. I frankly think their nem nuong cuon, while the standard, are not the best; I'd send you to Dat Thanh instead, where you can have excellent com tam (get the dau hu ky, whatever else you choose) after your nem nuong cuon.

                                              I'd also send you to Vien Dong for excellent Northern Vietnamese food. The entire restaurant will smell like their signature dish, cha ca Thang Long—turmeric-marinated catfish grilled on a blazing-hot cast iron skillet with onions and dill, served with the usual setup of noodles, herbs, sauces and chile pastes. They also make excellent sweet potato and shrimp fritters, and their bun cha Ha Noi is unrivaled (and 30% off, along with bun rieu, bun rieu oc and bun oc).

                                              Thai Nakorn is very good. Their beef panang, though not exactly "exotic", is the single best rendition of that dish I've ever, ever had. Almost anything on the specials page is excellent. It's all cheap, and I've never had a problem getting there, getting fed, and getting out in a lunch hour.

                                              If you want zillions of kinds of beef jerky, you need to go to one of the branches of Vua Kho Bo ("The King of Dried Beef") in Little Saigon. Watch out for the ladies, though—they'll feed you samples and then do the hard push... and when you ask for a half a pound of something, they'll shove something in a bag, take it back to the register and, oh, mercy, look, it's a pound and a quarter, imagine that. (The jerky, however, is excellent.)

                                              You should also consider Bangkok Taste for their green mussel omelettes and their khao soi. It's in a nothing strip mall about ten feet south of the 22 on Grand in Santa Ana. Also consider Siam Taste of Asia for Thai, also in Santa Ana.

                                              There are many Korean places in OC's burgeoning Little Seoul, but you'll need to be more specific about what it is you want; if you're looking for barbecue, the recommendations will look very different to those for soon tofu, soondae, seolleongtang, dongchimi, mandu, etc.

                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                Thanks a lot! I was joking about the risque part :-)

                                                Traveling with a vegetarian, and since Disneyland is again on the schedule, somewhere close in case we leave the premise then go back again. Was considering Thuyen Vien to be a potential dinner stop.

                                                Also thanks for last year's rec on Sagan, truly excellent...maybe above average by local standards but certainly a delight. Did not eat BBQ but the non bbq entrees were well executed. Have Mo Ran Gak on the radar, but am not sure at this point. Want something similar to Sagan's Korean selection of the non bbq menu or in that vein, but more importantly minimal bbq smoke if possible, quality and plentiful banchan, and minimal MSG preferred.

                                                Does Thai Nakorn have any kid friendly and good vegetarian options?

                                                Vien Dong sounds awesome, thanks! We have a branch of Vua Kho Bo in NorCal (Milpitas Square, sister mall to San Gabriel Square/Focus Plaza), complete with the pushy Mandarin speaking sales ladies who are over you like a hawk the moment you walk in.

                                                Might do an early lunch coming back down to SD from Anaheim on the last day ...inclined to check out Chef Hung's on the way...we'll see.

                                                1. re: K K

                                                  "Traveling with a vegetarian"

                                                  Bummer. No sushi again this time then?

                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                    Might drop by Kaito Sushi in Encinitas...but that's more of a topic for the SD board.

                                                  2. re: K K

                                                    Oh, how weird... here they're all Viet-speaking pushy sales ladies.

                                                    Glad you liked Sagan. Other similar suggestions: Surah in Buena Park and Cham Sut Gol in Garden Grove. I really—REALLY—like Kaju Tofu, either in Garden Grove or Irvine, the panchan are plentiful, and if your vegetarian orders plain soon dubu it should be vegetarian (but ask). Morangak is also quite good.

                                                    Thai Nakorn has an extensive menu and they can make vegetarian food (I'm assuming no fish sauce), though you'll have to ask. We take our kid there all the time; she likes beef panang and rice, though.

                                                    If Thuyen Vien is an acceptable drive, also consider Au Lac and the vegetarian menu at S Fine Dining. I'd also urge you to try Cafe Hiro in Cypress (again, assuming all Asian).

                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                      Kaju is excellent. The Garden Grove one is better than the Irvine branch. The spice level in GG is at least 1-2 notches above the Irvine. Irvine's very very spicy is equivalent to the mild/very spicy at the GG branch. It's also more packed and a longer wait time at GG. I usually get the tofu with kalbi or chicken bulgogi combo. The spicy pork is no slouch either. It's all good.

                                                      The Irvine branch includes a grilled fish as part of your panchan where GG does not. Been to the Irvine one twice and the GG one at least a dozen times.

                                                      At Thai Nakorn, the green papaya salad is also really good.

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        Pushy sales ladies know no Asian boundaries :-). I am used to them, but if there are more than 2 in the store I prefer not to be gang piled like rugby or football scrums.

                                                        So if there's one Korean meal in the works, it's down to Surah or Morangak. Seems like Surah has better banchan? Which one has better galbi tang and non spicy entrees?

                                                        Au Lac is on the radar now for sure....although I'm curious if 118 degrees in Costa Mesa is any good.

                                                        Anyone else have any comment about that kaitzen sushi/sushi boat place Kula in the Chef Hung complex? Wonder how it compares to Marine Joypolis Sushiland in the Seattle area (cheap half decent quality fast food sushi).

                                                        And to everyone else...is there any parking at 11 am at Diamond Jamboree Center on a Friday? That will determine (if we can make that stop) whether I can try Chef Hung or not. What about 5 to 5:30 pm on a Tuesday night? Thanks again.

                                                        1. re: K K

                                                          Your parking times are off peak hours. Park in the parking structure in the back. Head straight to the second floor. You should be able to find parking there at your hours.

                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                            Sweet,

                                                            I'm gonna hit up chef hung's then too, at an early hour when parking is not a madhouse of epic, logarithmic, and loggrheic proportions.

                                                            which one is the beef noodle soup that i should get? by name, if you guys have any info on it, the one without the pork in it, of course (prior to chef hungs, the only beef noodle soups that I have had were at Dai Ho kitchen and Luscious Dumpling and a couple other joints in the SGV. i remmeber that i really liked dai ho's version).

                                                            also, porthos, i'm still eagerly awaiting your review on the sweetbread hot dog, halibut, and rabbit with truffles prixe fixe from LQ at SK the other night.

                                                          2. re: K K

                                                            Kula is cheap sushi. That's about the best thing to say about it. Thin slices of mediocre fish. I'd skip it.

                                                            In this center, I really like Curry House CoCo Ichibanya which just opened two weeks ago. It's the 3rd continental US location of this Japanese chain, and quite terrific Japanese curry. For the vegetarian you're with, though, their sauce is based on beef bones and fat, so it's not vegetarian.

                                                            1. re: Professor Salt

                                                              Thanks folks. I'm quite aware that Kula is cheap kaitensushi...but I'm guessing it is probably better than a lot of the sushi boat crap we have up here that charge double for worse.

                                                              Been to Coco Ichibanya in Waikiki in 2002, so I know what it is like. Just too many choices, and not enough time or stomach space. I am still trying to squeeze Chef Hung in the plans...it will be a tough call between the red yeast tomato broth or the clear broth version for me. At least they have vegetarian soup base noodles too.

                                                              1. re: K K

                                                                What's your sushi price point? Shibucho does a very legit omakase with high quality fish and even some rare stuff for $50-60pp.

                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                  Just curious about Kula that's all....if I can get away with a dinner at Kaito in Encinitas this trip, I think that will be the only sushi meal. Otherwise it's probably going to be Souplantation...

                                                      2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        agree re: brodard

                                                        should be the standard, but not the best.

                                          2. re: Chandavkl

                                            I haven't tried Chef Hung yet, but I love the Diamond Jamboree Center in general. HM Mart is great for Korean groceries and the restaurants because of the line up. Here it is:

                                            85ºC Bakery Café, Taiwanese Bakery
                                            Ajisen Ramen
                                            Balcony California Grill and Bar, Yakatori & Taiwanese Stir Fry
                                            BBQ Chicken, Korean Chicken
                                            BCD Tofu House
                                            Bon Épi Patisserie & Café,
                                            Capital Seafood Restaurant, Dim sum & Chinese
                                            Chae Bahn Restaurant, Korean
                                            Chef Hung Noodles, Taiwanese noodles
                                            Crepes de Paris, Vietnamese French pastries
                                            CURRY HOUSE CoCo ICHIBANYA, Japanese curry
                                            Guppy Tea House Café
                                            Itriya Café, Ssam & noodles
                                            Kula Revolving Sushi Bar
                                            Original Buffalo Wings, real Buffalo wings, no idea how they snuck in here
                                            Papaya Thai Bistro
                                            Pho Saigon Pearl
                                            SWSH Shabu Shabu
                                            Tokyo Table - Tokyo City Cuisine

                                            http://www.diamond-jamboree.com/dinin...

                                            1. re: scottca075

                                              i was at that mall once and it was packed beyond all fucking recognition. not a parking space to be found, and you had to drive for a solid half hour or more to get from basically the center of the mall to the other end.

                                              too bad, there's no street parking there either.

                                              1. re: kevin

                                                There is a 4 or 5 story parking structure behind all of the buildings. Very few people seem to know about it and use it, but I park there whenever the main lot fills up.

                                                1. re: Wonginator

                                                  On Wed-Fri weeknights after 730pm that structure is full. You end up trying to make a 3 point turn at the top with several vehicles behind you. Total nightmare. I've had to go to plan B for dinner on multiple occasions because of it.

                                            2. re: Chandavkl

                                              Wow! So expensive. And the portion size? How about free pickled vegetables (as in NYC) or the fried egg add-on for fifty cents?

                                              1. re: scoopG

                                                Normal sized bowl. Seems like these overseas chains open up over in the US and expect to be able to charge a premium. In West LA a ramen place from Japan called Tsujita opened up and even with $14 a bowl ramen (a price I had only seen in midtown Manhattan) people are lined up outside waiting to get in.

                                                1. re: Chandavkl

                                                  Dai Ho has similar pricing, and has had it for about a decade now. CPI be damned!

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Ipse, you still quite a fan of Dai Ho Kitchen?

                                                    I always seem to get their variation on dan dan sesame noodles. Great stuff. Delcious beyond compare.

                                                    It's prices have crept up, but not as badly as other food establishments (such as the Apple Pan, which always seems to be a point of most people's ire).

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      I think Dai Ho is pretty good, I certainly don't go "ga-ga" over it like some of its fans.

                                                  2. re: Chandavkl

                                                    It's such a weird, eccentric ramen place though. You might be paying for white starched, tablecloths and solicitious service as well as the factor (instead, the hole in the wall, jeek to jowl environs of most highly-ramen joints scattered around LA).

                                                    And weirdly they serve sushi/sashimi and elaborate omakase meals along with a wide range of cooked dishes. Usually, in my esperience, ramen joints only serve bowls of what else, but ramen, and then a token appetizers such as maybe a salad, maybe a terikayaki, and/or gyoza, and rice dish.

                                          3. Stopped by for lunch based on this thread.

                                            The best thing here is the XLB. As good as any in SGV. Probably better. Think DTF style thin XB but the size of the ones at Dean Sin World. Really good.

                                            I got the Champion bowl of noodles with brisket, tendon, tripe. Noodles and soup were unfortunately weak and unremarkable. The noodles at 101 Noodle Express are much better. While I usually like a lighter broth, this was just unremarkable. The cuts of meat and offal were generous and delicious. The tendon was stellar.

                                            I'd come back for the XLB.

                                            -----
                                            101 Noodle Express
                                            1408 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                            Dean Sin World
                                            306 N Garfield Ave # 2, Monterey Park, CA

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              Went back today for lunch. Had another order of the XLB which was again stellar. First P. Mozza, now a top notch XLB option...the OC is on its way up.

                                              Instead of the standard beef noodles, I went with the brisket in clear broth and thin noodles. This was much better than the soy sauce based beef noodle soup. It's one of those rare instances where the thin noodles in clear broth were superior to the thick noodles in the darker broth.

                                              The beef brisket itself was delicious, fatty, tender but with a little texture to it and a smokiness that is reminiscent of BBQ. The other half of the bowl of noodles was filled with slices of white meat which as far as I can tell, is pork. Odd. This bowl of noodles was more remarkable than the standard beef noodle soup I had yesterday. Brisket is the way to go here.

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                What's the name of this joint, Portos?

                                                Also do they have Beef Noodle Soup without pork in it?

                                                And any fish only dumplings on the menu?

                                                Thanks.

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  The place is called Chef Hung's.

                                                  I'm guessing the regular beef noodle soup does not have pork. And don't quote me just yet on the brisket in clear broth having sliced pork since it's so odd. But the meat was so white that even boiled brisket would not have that color. Had to have been pork.

                                                  If I'm not mistaken, I believe there is a vegetarian broth. I did not look for non pork dumplings, but off the top of my head, I would say no.

                                                  -----
                                                  Chef Hung
                                                  2700 Alton Pkwy #117, Irvine, CA 92606

                                                2. re: Porthos

                                                  Disregard my previous comment. Tried the beef brisket in clear broth again today and both cuts are emphatically beef. The thin smokey almost pastrami-like brisket is still my favorite. Glutton that I am, I asked for all thin smokey brisket. No go. And thank goodness because the thicker brisket today was fattier, darker, richer, and more tender than the version yesterday. Maybe what I had yesterday was just a super lean cut...

                                                  Also tried the loofa XLB which were filled with minced loofa and shrimp. The loofa flavor came through superbly even though we are technically just at the end of season/out of season. Too bad this can't be on the menu year round.

                                                  There is great eats here. Ironically, just not their "Champion" beef noodle soup.

                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                    How do you compare Chef Hung to Liang's Kitchen? I prefer Liang's Kitchen for the beef noodle soup and overall. The thick noodles and the broth at Liang's are much better. I think they have better overall menu selection, the food is generally better item vs. item and the price point is about 20% lower.

                                                    1. re: js76wisco

                                                      Both times I've been to Liang's Kitchen the beef in the beef noodle soup has been tough and chewy. Meh.

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        I agree with you on that point but I'm more focused on the noodles than the beef. I also like their rendition of the beef roll and scallion pancakes.

                                              2. Has anyone tried any of the vegetarian options (dumplings, xianbing, soup) at Chef Hung?