Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Woon Kitchen: A Family Affair in Historic Filipinotown

Woon Kitchen recently opened in Historic Filipinotown (a.k.a. HiFi), adding another reason that HiFi is one of LA's latest food hotspots. Woon Kitchen started as a pop-up, building a loyal fan base by showcasing their mother's (Julie Fong, aka. Mama Fong) homestyle Chinese cooking around town. The new HiFi shop is small but cute and has some patio seating. There's a small but affordable menu plus a few specials, as well as beer and wine

To start: each table gets a bowl of peanuts roasted with sea moss (that apparently they get from a special dealer in SGV)
One of their best known dishes is the beef noodle, which is what they're known for from their pop-up days. It's a stir fried chewy noodles with marinated flank steak, bok choy and shiitake mushrooms ($11).
The stir fried noodles have a sweeter sauce and the texture of the noodles is nice and chewy, the beef slightly charred. For me, while I didn't eat these flavors exactly as a kid, the taste certainly reminds me of homeocoking.

We also tried some appetizers, including the fried tofu fishcakes ($6).
Woon Kitchen
I love fried tofu and these actually taste like some snacks I would eat as a kid!

Wood ear mushrooms and bean curd stick ($5). This was something that Mama Fong had in the fridge all the time when they were growing up.
Woon Kitchen
The bean curd stick is actually yuba, aka tofu skin. Think of it as a salad, as it is served cold.

Recently, Food and Wine wrote a nice piece on HiFi, including Woon Kitchen's story (the story of how Keegan Fong, the son, ended up opening the place and the tribulations involved with the opening is worth a look. You can read it here). The review raved about the fried rice ($11) that was on the special, which meant that it now made it to the regular menu! The fried rice is a mix of white and black rice along with lap cheong (Chinese sausage), Chinese broccoli stems, eggs, and green onions.
The mix of the white and black rice certainly doesn't make this your old-school fried rice. The rice in this dish was fried well, nicely separated instead of clumping together and not too oily. The black rice gives it a firmer texture.

For dessert, there are ice cream sandwiches - instead of regular bread or even steamed bao, Woon uses fried mantou for these. I opted for the ube ice cream sandwich, and was told to request a drizzle of Sichuan chili crisp on top of it. The chili really adds to it and brings the dessert to the next level. Woon

I do believe that even if you didn't grow up eating a particular type of cuisine at home, you can taste the difference between homecooking or not. In this case, head to the Historic Filipinotown for a taste of homestyle Chinese cooking. If nothing else, the food is delicious and the prices are affordable - it's a great addition to the burgeoning HiFi neighborhood!

Woon Woon Kitchen
2920 W Temple St
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 674-7434
Woon Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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