Earlier this week, I attended my first volunteer session for Cooking Matters, a program that teaches cooking skills and nutrition in low-income communities. To break the ice and to get to know the program’s participants, we went around the room and introduced ourselves and stated our favorite food.
Considering how much of my life is consumed by all things edible, I surprisingly can’t recall the last time I was asked about my favorite food. Even though I was a little rusty on the subject, my instincts kicked in as soon as it was my turn. “My favorite food is noodles!” I enthused. It was a spur-of-the-moment response, but even several days later, I still can’t think of a better response.
This past weekend, my mom and I enjoyed some really terrific Chinese noodles at Kam Hong Garden in Monterey Park. Though I love noodles in all shapes and sizes, I must confess that the knife-cut variety ranks somewhere near the top. Barbara Hansen of Table Conversation pointed me here, and it’s my newest noodling obsession.
Before the slurping commenced, my mom suggested that we start with some protein. She chose the spicy beef and tripe ($2.95) from the long list of cold appetizers that also included “fried odor tofu” ($4.25) and “pig leg gel with cold sauce” ($2.50). I haven’t encountered a menu with this much Wessonality in a long time.
The fiery and tender plate of shank arrived marinating in chili oil along with bits of scallions and crushed peanuts. The amount of heat was just right, but sadly there was no tripe.
For the “noodle soup” portion of our meal, we chose the Shanxi Lamb Noodles ($5.95). As soon as the huge and steaming bowl arrived, the musky aroma of lamb smacked us in the face.
Our waitress suggested that we pair the lamb broth with the restaurant’s handmade curly and soft noodles. It turned out to be a great call because they complemented the mildly flavored broth deliciously. There wasn’t much lamb meat in the soup, but the essence of the animal was totally present. Slices of napa cabbage and whole woodear mushrooms were plentiful in the broth.
For the “dry noodles” portion of our meal, we took Ms. Hansen’s advice and ordered the Shanxi sauteed pork fried noodle ($6.95). The seasonings were much bolder than the ones found in the lamb dish, which made me glad that the pork fried noodles arrived second. The knife-cut noodles were awesomely thick and bouncy. Jagged around the edge and varying in length and width, each noodle had its own unique and tasty profile. The fried pieces of pork, leeks, and mushrooms were merely an afterthought on the plate.
The Astronomer was mighty jealous to learn that he had missed out on such a dynamite noodle feast due to his physics conference. If he plays his cards right (i.e. buys me a swell souvenir from Chicago), we’ll return just as soon as he gets back from his trip.
The Astronomer brought me home a dazzling plate designed by Martin Kastner for Alinea, which definitely qualified as a “swell souvenir.” We dined at Kam Hong Garden the following day and this is what we ate…
Combination fried knife-cut noodles ($5.75) with shrimp, woodear mushrooms, and pork. It was mildly seasoned and required a dousing of chili oil for kick. The pork variety that I shared with my mom was a much stronger dish.
The pancake with pork belly ($5.25) was served unexpectedly cold, but tasty nevertheless. The beef roll at 101 Noodle Express is a superior specimen as far as rolls go.
And lastly, a bowl of Shanxi meat noodles ($5.25) made with handmade pulled noodles. The Astronomer loved this dish because of the hints of anise and cinnamon in the sauce.
Call me bananas, but I want to eat the entire menu at Kam Hong Garden. More updates to come!
Kam Hong Garden
848 E Garvey Avenue, Suite A
Monterey Park, CA 91755