Fat Wong's - San Bruno - Report
A year after getting the recommendation, I finally tried Fat Wong's in San Bruno on Saturday. Went at about 12:00 noon and the wait wasn't too long for 2 of us. We ended up sharing a table w/ two other parties of 2, which was fine with us.
I wanted to try their cheong fun after reading about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8666...
Cheong fun w/ char siu - I found this a tad greasy, and would probably skip in the future. The shrimp cheong fun that our neighbors got looked better. The noodles themselves were fine. I'd say above average, and not much difference from a place like Cooking Papa. But not extraordinary, either.
Cheong fun w/ duck meat - Also a bit greasy, but better than the pork. I liked the crispy bits in this. Still, I think in the future I'll stick to beef or shrimp filling.
Chinese broccoli w/ oyster sauce - Small dim-sum sized portion was good for us, and the veggie was cooked to a perfect doneness for me. Pretty plain and simple, but well executed.
Braised beef brisket - This was recommended on Yelp, so we gave it a try. The brisket was tender, and the sauce was pretty mild. Served over some turnip which I enjoyed. So, not earth-shattering, but pretty good.
Service was fine, total bill was about $20 and we left feeling pretty full (though not stuffed). A nice alternative to dim sum.
I ate here a while back about an hour before closing. By that point, the chef who prepares cheong fun had gone home. As an alternative, they offered a dish off the appetizer menu--- rolled up rice noodles that were seared and served with XO sauce. Nice char, but they very greasy and a little mushy.
A congee with duck tasted mostly of salt and the roast duck pieces weren't very high quality. Accompanying the dish were some bits of fried wontons which I enjoyed a lot in the congee--- this is the first time I've seen this for a soup(ish) dish outside of the northeast US! It also came with some scallions that had clearly been sliced hours or days earlier.
It used to be a common custom around here to include the fried wontons with congee (as well as roasted peanuts and preserved veggies), but over time, places have cut back on the accouterments, and most now just offer scallions and cilantro.
I had dinner here a few years back and was fairly underwhelmed overall after trying out some staples like the Beef Chow Fun, the congee (the Chinese name touts this!) and a couple other dishes I can't recall.
Finding a place that nails congee around here is hard (versus HK where even an average place can do a great job). Some places can get a good texture (creamy, smooth, "melted" grains), but it's rare to find a place that can nail the flavor profile of the plain congee base. It's more than just the right saltiness level - it has certain umami-ish flavors imparted by the broth used in the base, use of dried scallops, etc.
Could you please comment on the texture of the rice wrapper and what makes it "above average" or perhaps contrast to Cooking Papa which you also mention? How's the seasoned sauce and is the same sauce used for both meats in the cheung fun?
More about Fat Wong's
re: Melanie Wong
The noodles were freshly steamed to order, which I think made them better than at a regular dim sum place. So I guess that's what made them above-average to me. But it's the same at Cooking Papa.
They weren't special in any other way though...the wrappers weren't particularly thin or thick, and they weren't particularly hard or soft. They were both good and unremarkable, if that makes sense.
The seasoned sauce was the same on both. Not a lot of sauce, and the sauce wasn't that sweet.
re: Dave MP
re: Melanie Wong
I meant that steaming to order results in better noodle rolls, compared to dim sum places where they sit in a cart or steam table for a while before you eat them.
I haven't had the ones at Cooking Papa in a while, but as far as I remember, the ones at Fat Wong's are about as good. Maybe not as thin or silky, but not far off.
The only other place in the Bay Area where I've had made-to-order rice noodle rolls is Gum Wah in Oakland, which I thought I had written about, but perhaps I didn't. I can't remember how good those were, though. But otherwise, Cooking Papa and Fat Wong's are the only other places I've tried.
re: Dave MP
Thanks for reporting back. It's important to note that Cooking Papa and Fat Wong's are basically cut from the same mold....a place to offer affordable comfort food carb based classics in HK Cantonese cuisine. They are not a dim sum specialist restaurant, and cheung fun are pretty common blue collar type of food. There are specialist cheung fun restaurants/mini eateries in HK, but they are not glamorous by any means (one in particular is favored by taxi cab drivers due to their late business hours that fits their schedule, but has suffered bad quality and inconsistency issues of late).
It's pretty hard to consistently get the right texture down along with the desired thin-ness while keeping it slippery and moist (and unbroken), and the end result should be something slippery and smooth in taste....kind of like the ho fun noodles they use in their Pho Ga at Turtle Tower. The ja leung (fried cruller with cheung fun skin wrapped around it) at both Cooking Papa and Fat Wong's are decent. Although you can get a more flavorful version at Champagne Restaurant in Millbrae (with pieces of shrimp pressed on top of the cruller under the skin), or Koi Palace where there is a variant of a crispy sweet rice crispy texture with bbq pork (it's a newly added item).
At these types of eateries, I find that the non traditional dim sum restaurant fillings are better bets, whether it be fish, scallop, or dried scallop and large pea sprout.