3.336 Chinese Lo Mein Noodle Soup with Shrimp Wontons

Cycle 3 – Item 336

6 (Thu) December 2012

Lo Mein Noodle Soup with Shrimp Wontons

3.5

at Cheung Kee Noodle House

-Itaewon, Yongsan, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Project 30/30/30: 36 of 45 (see also 45/45/45)

Throughout the past November, I challenged myself to eat 30 dishes from 30 countries over the course of 30 consecutive days – and succeeded.  I will continue the project until I run out of dishes or countries or restaurants or steam or money, aiming for 50.

China is the 36th country.

Recently moved to Itaewon from its original location near Hongdae, where it was reviewed it last year (see 2.221 Gailan in Oyster Sauce).

Cheung Kee Noodle House is a Chinese restaurant.  Specializes in Cantonese-style noodles.  Still the only one of its kind in Korea.

It may be connected in some way to Mak’s Noodle in Hong Kong.  Business cards for Mak’s are available at the counter.  The founder’s son opened his own restaurant Chung Kee Noodles.  But I haven’t verified if/how the restaurant in Korea is related.

So glad that I could feature an authentic experience to represent China in this project – rather than, say, jjajang myeon.

True to memory, the wonton noodle soup was excellent – sort of.  The soup was a simple chicken broth, no more no less, exactly the way that it should be.  The shrimp wontons were soft and sweet and succulent, possibly the best that I’ve ever had in Korea.  The egg noodles were delectably chewy and tasted fine – or so I thought initially.  However, upon tasting the same noodles topped with braised beef, I detected a trace odor of ammonia.  When I asked the manager/owner about it, she explained that the preservative used to maintain the noodles – made in China (at Mak’s?) and delivered to Korea, never frozen – did indeed smell a bit like ammonia.  I probably hadn’t perceived it at the outset because of the broth, as well as the chili oil that I’d stirred in.  Claiming that I was the first customer to notice (maybe I was just the first to mention it), she seemed simultaneously amazed/amused/anxious – proof that I’m not a picky eater, just hypersensitive to off flavors.  Anyway, with ammonia now in mind, I didn’t feel like finishing the noodles.  But they’d been really good up until that point.  I’m wondering whether I’ll ever go back.

This time, the gailan came with oyster sauce containing minced raw garlic – not such a great idea; on the bright side, for some reason, the price went down to 4,000 won per plate (when does that ever happen in Korea?!?!

Lo Mein is a Chinese dish.  In the Cantonese tradition, it’s a stir-fry of egg noodles + egg + vegetables.  The term – “stirred (lo) noodles (mein)” – refers to the method preparation, not the type of noodles.

At Mak’s Noodle, the same dish is called “Wonton Mein.”  Unknown if they even have lo mein on the menu.

Cheung Kee’s confusion concerning this most essential nomenclature is one reason for me to doubt the connection to Mak’s.

The braised beef, which features the same noodles but just parboiled then drained, allowing the ammonia to come through – this would be closer to lo mein.

(See also BOOZE)

(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)

(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)

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