Chef Wang --- Korean Chinese (Millbrae)

In search of hand-pulled noodles, I found myself at Chef Wang in Millbrae recently.

The English section of the menu listed as “Hand pull noodles” was confusing and listed a variety of noodle types, even rice noodles. I instead went to their menu of Korean Chinese specialties, which is listed only in Hangul/Chinese and lists four hand-pulled noodle dishes.

炸醬麵 Jajangmyeon black bean sauce noodles, Korean version of zha jiang mian
炒碼麵 Chao ma mian aka jjampong, a spicy seafood noodle soup
大滷麵 Da lu mian, gravyish sauce
溫滷麵 Wen ju mian aka ulmyeon

The server said the chef, who is from Korea, won’t tell him anything about the noodle ingredients or technique, yet another failure of mine to find out whether Korean Chinese chefs make their hand-pulled noodles differently than those in Beijing or Lanzhou.

The noodles appeared to be hand-pulled-- a little under 1/4" wide, halfway between rectangular and round and good at absorbing sauce. No noodle was more than a foot long. Nice tug, with some firmness. They looked translucent at points, and struck me as more gelatinous than the bouncy “QQ” hand-pulled noodles at nearby Yummy Sichuan and Yi Yuan.

For less than $10, I got a split bowl containing the top two hand-pulled noodles dishes, and there’s a photo on their wall showing this option.

The jajangmyeon had lots of browned onions, and wasn’t as oily as other versions I’ve had. Minimal cucumber and no noticeable seafood, maybe because I got the half order. Basic, but pretty tasty.

The jjampong had lots of kimchi, a few shrimp, squid, and shreds of pork. It’s very different from the mixed-seafood (mussels, etc.) version I’m used to from Koryo Jajang in Oakland. I liked this a lot, and was fond of the bold use of garlic and kimchi. A stray jalapeño slice and random pockets of heat packed a wallop.

I also tried the Korean Chinese sweet/sugar beef. Unlike the ubiquitous ketchup-sauce version, this dish has a yellow sauce made with pineapple juice. I didn’t get how the spinach and canned pineapple chunks functioned in the dish, but lightly battered beef, which stayed crunchy in the tangy, but barely tasting like pineapple, sauce, was great and benefited from extra acidity from thinly sliced pickled cucumbers.

Here’s my attempt at translating the Chinese/Hangul menu. Feedback welcome, and surely necessary. Many of these are not listed on the English menu, and I wonder if some are similar in name, but different in preparation, than what are more typical.

Soup

  1. Three seafood soup
  2. Hot and sour soup
  3. Egg drop soup
  4. Wonton soup
  5. Sizzling rice soup
  6. Shiitake mushrooms chicken slices soup

Dumplings
7. Potstickers
8. Boiled dumpling

Cold dishes
9a. Mixed jellyfish
9. Lettuce chicken cups
10. Liang Zhang Pi / double skin / mung bean noodles typically with stir fried pork, seafood, vegetables in a hot mustard sauce

Beef
11. Sweet/sugar beef 糖牛肉 , sweet and sour beef in a pineapple juice sauce
12. Spicy pepper beef
13. Beef with bean starch vermicelli shreds (fensi)
14. Green onion beef
15. Sautéed beef with pepper and onions
16. Beef with broccoli
17. Sichuan beef
18. Mongolian beef

Mu shu
19. Mushu pork
20. Mushu beef
21. Mushu shrimp
22. Mushu chicken
23. Mushu vegetables

Seafood
24. Dry fried squid
25. Fish fragrant squid
26. Dry fried shrimp - Korean translates to kkanpung, a sweet and spicy shrimp dish
27. Dry roasted shrimp
28. Szechuan shrimp
30. Eight treasure vegetables
31. Fried three fresh 三鮮 (is this three fresh water fish, or three vegetables? Is it related to the Beijing and dongbei dish of eggplant, potatoes, and peppers called 地三鮮)
32. Sea cucumber soup
33. Sea cucumber and shelled shrimp
34. Quick fried three shreds (溜三絲) : not sure— might be potato, green peppers, and carrots.
35. Fried freshwater clams, seasonal
36. Dry roasted whole fish, seasonal
37. Mapo doufu
38. Dry fried chicken
39. Hot pepper chicken
40. Dry roasted scallops

Handmade noodles (all three are prefaced, in Korean with 삼선, samsun, which would indicate the presence or three types of seafood)
41. 炸醬麵 Jajangmyeon black bean sauce noodles, Korean version of zha jiang mian.
42. 炒碼麵 Chao ma mian aka jjampong, a spicy seafood noodle soup.
43. 大滷麵 Da lu mian, gravyish sauce noodles
44. 溫滷麵 Wen ju mian aka ulmyeon

Chow mein
45. Combination chow mein
46. Beef chow mein
47. Chicken chow mein
48. Shelled shrimp chow mein

Fried rice
49. Mixed fried rice
50. Beef fried rice
51. Chicken fried rice
52. Shrimp fried rice

2 Likes

The proper translation for the Sweet/sugar beef you had is actually 糖醋牛肉 (literal translation is sugar vinegar beef) 。You’re correct that it is different from the commonly seen colorful sweet & sour beef/pork/chicken. It is the Shandong version of the same dish.

One can argue that this is the #1 most popular Chinese entree in Korea, similar to one can argue that sweet & sour pork/chicken is the most popular Chinese entree in America.

This is actually a seafood dish, different from the other common Northeast Chinese dish of the vegetarian variety.
The 3 main “shreds”, prepared by the cooking method "溜“ is sea cucumber, shrimp, and woodear mushroom. Plus the other commonly accompanying scallop, squid, etc.

Thank you, and it’s great to see you on hungry onion!

What’s the deal with 三鮮 (three fresh/three seafood)? I’ll write up a report of BBQ King later in the week, but the Shenyang chef says that consists of egg, shrimp, and chives. Do the three items vary by region, of us it something generic like “4 cheese pizza”

For example, 地三鮮, or earth/ ground 3 fresh, in Dongbei, contains eggplants, potatos and peppers

Yes, it definitely seems to vary by region as the special fresh/local ingredients differ vastly in a big country like China. Similarly each region has their famous 3 “treasures”, 三寶。

Thanks for the report! I tried Chef Wang a few months ago after a hike, and knew I didn’t order well. Seemed like an OK hole in the wall.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold