Outstanding Wonton Noodle Soup with Handmade Noodles, and other Deliciousness - Hong Kong Specialist - Tam's Noodle House [Thoughts + Pics]

While I may not have grown up eating Cantonese / Hong Kong cuisine, I could appreciate the tasty flavors from various specialists in L.A. over the years thanks to my San Gabriel Valley friends. But, as some of our veteran Hounds / Onioners might’ve noticed, there’s been a stark decline in Hong Kong / Cantonese restaurants for awhile now. Whenever we travel to the SGV, all we see are Szechuan or Hot Pot restaurants all over the place. And with the downfall of Sam Woo BBQ (for tax evasion), there are even fewer places that specialize in HK / Cantonese food. I’m curious if the situation is the same in other parts of the country where there used to be strong representation? (@ipsedixit @ColinMorey @sck @hyperbowler and all.)

Seemingly with little fanfare, a new Hong Kong / Cantonese specialist by the name of Tam’s Noodle House has emerged in a corner of a strip mall in the SGV.

We had met up with a good friend originally from Hong Kong (fully vaccinated) to see how Tam’s was in comparison to food they grew up on.

Combo Noodle Soup (Wonton & Fish Ball Noodle Soup):

The most shocking thing to find out is that unlike every single other Hong Kong / Cantonese SGV restaurant we’ve tried over the years, Tam’s Noodle House makes their own Egg Noodles in-house(!). :open_mouth: This sounded really promising. They also make the other styles of Noodles (for their other dishes) in-house as well(!). So their Flat Rice Flour Noodle, Shrimp Noodles, Rice Flour Noodles are all handmade. Nice. :slight_smile:

Taking a sip:

Deep oceanic and poultry flavors: I can taste Shrimp and Fish, and a light Chicken Broth all combined beautifully together. It is stunning, and better than Noodle Boy’s Wonton Noodle Soup, and better than Pearl River Deli’s Wonton Noodle Soup (which is delicate, but very light). :heart:

The Housemade Wontons taste fresh, beautiful Marinated Ground Pork and Shrimp, the Wonton skin is tender, and the flavor combination is just really crave worthy. Like great comfort food! :heart:

The Fish Balls are disappointing: Nowhere near as good as Noodle Boy’s Housemade Fish Balls, these were a bit too dense. Definitely just stick with the pure Wonton Noodle Soup.

Their Housemade Egg Noodles were excellent. They had this slight bite and structure to them, more firm than the mass-produced stuff at Sam Woo BBQ or various other Hong Kong BBQ restaurants we’ve tried over the years. They aren’t as big on the “chew” as other types of Handmade Noodles (for, say, Beef Noodle Soup, etc.), but these Cantonese style Egg Noodles are much thinner in general. These were great as well. :blush:

And we had to do the @Sgee Style Wonton preparation, :wink: a bit of Red Vinegar and a bit of the Chili Oil. Absolutely delicious and better than Noodle Boy! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Shrimp, Leek & Pork Dumplings:

First, I totally get that ordering Dumplings at a Hong Kong / Cantonese restaurant is asking for trouble; it’s not their specialty. :sweat_smile: But we’re suckers for great Handmade Dumplings, so when our friend asked the waitress and confirmed that they made their own Dumplings in-house from scratch as well, we had to give it a try.

Sadly, they were just OK. They’re certainly better than mass-produced, frozen dumplings at the supermarket, but compared to greatness like Ly Family Kitchen, this really falls short. The Dumpling skin is very thin, and lacks much bite to it. The filling is pretty tasty, but also lacks the “oomph” and standout qualities from places like Ly Family and Cindy’s Kitchen.

Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce (here Sauteed with Garlic):

One really neat option Tam’s Noodle House has is that they offer an Appetizer sized version of Choy Sum Vegetables (for a reasonable $4.50)! That’s a great way for one or two people to enjoy some veggies, along with sampling other dishes, where usually a full order of Sauteed Vegetables is enough for 3 - 4 people easily.

Tam’s Choy Sum is normally poached and served with a side of Oyster Sauce. Our friend asked the waitress nicely and the kitchen was able to just serve it Sauteed with Garlic. :slight_smile: The wok skills were evident and this was excellent Choy Sum wok-fried with Garlic. It tasted fresh, tender with some structure in the stems and the Garlic was so fragrant. :blush:

Deep Fried Squid with Spicy Salt:

Their Deep Fried Squid with Spicy Salt was just a touch oily, but only a touch. Otherwise, this was very good! :blush: Very fresh Squid, lightly battered, the oil tasted fresh (not overly reused / old oil like many average places).

2nd Visit:

Steam Flour Roll with Hotbed Chives & Shrimp:

Unfortunately their Steam Flour Roll (usually in English as “Steamed Rice Rolls”) are the one Noodle / Roll base that they don’t make in-house, and it shows. It looks promising, but unfortunately it’s super soft, borderline mushy, and lacks any real mouthfeel. The Shrimp and Chives were delicious (as was the sauce).

Combo Lo Mein with Shrimp Eggs Flat Noodles (Wontons and Stewed Pork Feet):

Their Lo Mein stands out in that instead of the usual Egg Noodles, Tam’s serves their Lo Mein with Handmade Shrimp Eggs Flat Noodles(!). :open_mouth: We didn’t even know such a thing existed! @ipsedixit @ColinMorey why didn’t anyone tell me?! :sweat_smile:

These were fantastic! If you look closely at the pic (above), you can see little specks in the Handmade Noodles (that’s the Shrimp Eggs). These Noodles are special: Toothsome, great chew, there’s a light brininess and just a delicious savoriness in every bite. :heart:

Their Handmade Wontons are just as great on this 2nd visit. Fresh-tasting, flavorful Marinated Ground Pork and Shrimp (not overly fatty, nor gristly / dry like many versions).

The Stewed Pork Feet were mouth-wateringly delicious. Nicely stewed, great deep flavor in every bite. :heart:

Wonton Noodle Soup:

The first sip of their Housemade Wonton Soup is as contemplative as the first visit: You taste a delicate Seafood-based Broth, redolent of Shrimp and Fish. It is then perfectly integrated with Chicken stock. Our friend from Hong Kong said that Tam’s was the closest in taste to their favorite Wonton Noodle Soups in Hong Kong.

The Handmade Egg Noodles are nice, and the Handmade Wontons taste as fresh and perfectly balanced as before. It is the perfect package and is arguably the best Wonton Noodle Soup in L.A. :heart: :blush: :heart:

Dried Scallop and Egg White Fried Rice:

I used to think Fried Rice was a basic “filler” dish for the longest time. It’s tasty, but so many So Cal restaurants make a mediocre version that I thought that was “normal.” Then thanks to our Hounds’ recommendations and @ipsedixit recommending the greatness that is Dragon Beaux’s Fried Rice, I started really appreciating great Fried Rice with real Wok Hei (Breath of the Wok).

Tam’s Dried Scallop and Egg White Fried Rice is pretty darn good. There’s real Wok Hei (Breath of the Wok) here, real wok skills, the Fried Rice is not overly greasy, nor soggy. There’s a deep presence to it, and every bite is just heart-warming, happy comfort food. It is better than any Fried Rice I’ve had locally in years. :heart:

Chinese Chives with Dry Land Fish:

I’ve never heard of “Dry Land Fish” but this came recommended: This was Chinese Chives sauteed with Fried Dry Land Fish (small “White Bait”-style Fish) and Onions. And it was delicious! You get the vegetal from the Chinese Chives, and then a burst of briny, fried goodness from these Deep Fried Dry Land Fish. :slight_smile:

House Special Steamed Chicken with Ginger & Green Onions (Half):

Good flavor. The Ginger & Green Onion Chicken was perhaps a touch overcooked compared to the near medium poached Chicken from Pearl River Deli (Chef Lee has got that technique down pat!), but this version was still quite tasty. Good Special Soy Sauce, Ginger and Green Onion combination of flavors. Flavorful Chicken and perfect over some Steamed Rice. :wink:

Chicken Chow Mein:

Their Chicken Chow Mein uses their Handmade Egg Noodles, and prepared Hong Kong style with shatteringly crisp Fried Egg Noodles, perfectly moist, succulent morsels of Sauteed Chicken and Yellow Chives, some Chinese Broccoli. Outstanding Hong Kong / Cantonese Egg Noodle Chow Mein! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Deep Fried Chicken Wings with Salted Egg Yolk:

Just another winner: Nicely Deep Fried Chicken Wings, then quickly sauteed with Salted Duck Egg Yolks(!). There’s a delicious almost creamy aspect, a nice flavor that only Salted Duck Egg Yolks can impart.

Classic Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken:

Before I get chastised by my fellow Onioners, yes, I know this was probably a case of asking for trouble (ordering a Taiwanese dish at a Hong Kong restaurant). :sweat_smile: But our waitress strongly recommended this dish, so we decided to give it a try.

I have no idea why Tam’s Noodle House has a Taiwanese dish on their menu, but I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. This is definitely not like any Three Cup Chicken I’ve ever had: The Chicken turned out to be Chicken Bones (with barely any meat on them), deep fried and then sauteed with Onions, Bell Peppers, coated in a Soy Sauce / Sesame Oil mixture.

It was a tasty flavor combination, but unfortunately you were just eating batter and spitting out bones most of the time. :frowning:

Choy Sum with Oyster Sauce:

The Poached Choy Sum was again perfectly cooked through, tender, and the Choy Sum itself was immaculate.

Century Egg & Pork Congee:

In a sign of quality, even Tam’s Congee is stellar: Perfect density and viscosity, being neither too thick or too watery like far too many versions around town. More importantly the classic combination of Century Egg & Pork Congee is usually found with leftover, dried Pork slivers. Not so at Tam’s! Here, the Pork is fresh, moist, meaty and tender. It is seriously the best quality Pork in the Century Egg & Pork Congee that I’ve ever had. Their Congee is probably one of the best I’ve had in the SGV. :heart:

Ginger Scallion Pork Kidneys:

I have to credit some long-time SGV friends of mine for introducing me to this seemingly crazy dish years ago. I fell in love with the flavors then and it’s been a favorite ever since! Tam’s version takes nicely cooked Pork Kidneys (it usually comes with Pork Kidney and Liver, but I asked for Kidney only), and serves it with Ginger, Scallions and Bean Sprouts in an absolutely addicting fragrant Special Soy Sauce-based Sauce (but so much better). Perfect with some Steamed Rice. :heart:

House Special Stir Fried Chinese Broccoli:

Very good. A great alternative to Choy Sum.

4th Visit:

Salted Fish & Chicken Fried Rice:

To make sure it wasn’t a fluke, on this 4th visit, we ordered another Fried Rice dish, their Salted Fish & Chicken Fried Rice. Tam’s Chef has some real Wok skills. This is excellent Fried Rice, with real Wok Hei, not too greasy, not overly wet, nor dried out. The Salted Fish they use here is more pungent, bolder, saltier and with a nice oceanic breeze hitting every bite. The Chicken meat is tender and the whole dish is just happiness on a plate. :heart:

Combo Lo Mein with Shrimp Eggs Flat Noodles (Stewed Beef (Brisket) & Wontons):

Normally Beef Brisket at various Hong Kong / Cantonese restaurants locally is a mixed bag. It can be a bit chewy, chunky, sometimes tender, but usually not. Tam’s version of “Stewed Beef” (Brisket) was outstanding! :blush: Super tender, almost fall apart, with a bit of Beef Tendon included. And the stewed flavor was not overly salty, balanced and just so good! :heart: I was stunned.

Their Handmade Wontons were as standout as the last 3 times we ordered it. They are consistently great so far. :slight_smile:

Their Handmade Shrimp Eggs Flat Noodles were still excellent as well. It makes for one of the most unique, standout versions of Lo Mein here in So Cal, toothsome, flavorful, very good. :heart:

Seaweed Fish:

Another questionable order from us (ordering a Shanghai dish at a Cantonese restaurant), but this just seemed so strange / interesting (why was there a lone Shanghai dish featured on a mainly Hong Kong / Cantonese menu?). This turned out to be fine. Not great, but not bad. Nicely fried and battered, but the taste and batter was not like any Shanghai version of Seaweed Fish Fillets that we’ve tried at various Shanghai specialists.

Tam’s Noodle House is a real welcome addition to the local culinary landscape. Opening during the pandemic (a challenge), featuring Hong Kong / Cantonese cuisine (another challenge), they are thankfully excelling at what they do. Tam’s features outstanding Fried Rice dishes, sublime Congee, and very good wok skills for various sauteed dishes.

But beyond all those great dishes is their Wonton Noodle Soup, featuring Housemade Wontons that are perfectly balanced, and Handmade Egg Noodles (made in-house!). Add in the delicious, clean, vibrant Wonton Soup, and expected condiments (Red Vinegar and Chili Oil) to add, and you have the best bowl of Wonton Noodle Soup in L.A. Their Lo Mein with Handmade Shrimp Eggs Flat Noodles is also amazing.

They may not do everything well, but Tam’s Noodle House has quickly filled the vacuum left by the closure of all the Sam Woo BBQ branches, and easily surpassed them. This is a legit Hong Kong / Cantonese specialist with some standout items that are worth seeking out.

Tam’s Noodle House
120 N. San Gabriel Blvd., Suite #J
San Gabriel, CA 91775
Tel: (626) 782-7666

https://tamsnoodlehouse.wixsite.com/home

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Hong Kong food in North America peaked during the 90s and 2000s because of immigration before the 1997 handover. Since then, a portion of Hong Kong people returned to Hong Kong. I don’t know if there will be a second wave of immigration because of the security law from last year- I haven’t seen it. Chinese immigration to Northern California is primarily tech workers from China who study and work here, hence the focus of Chinese food gradually drift towards various Chinese regional cuisines. And as you noted, even Cantonese joints have many non-Cantonese dishes because they need to cater to the population.

In general, Hong Kong food in California is pretty decent, certainly much better than the rest of the country. Though there just isn’t enough HKers to have specialists that focus only on specific type of noodles, congee, fried rice, fish balls, etc. Each of them can be (though doesn’t have to be) its own joint in Hong Kong.

Its promising that they make their own egg noodles. Not even many HK joints do that any more. How do they make their noodles? The old world way of someone riding a bamboo pole or some other way? If former, I will be here this weekend. :smiley:

The maker should put the noodles on top and the wonton/ fish balls at the bottom so the noodles stay firm. Was that yellow chives or was that the white part of green onion? I am also curious what goes into their broth. Tile fish?

How did your friend compare the wonton noodle soup to the best in HK?

That shrimp egg flat noodle looks yummy.

This looks good also.

Was that a soy sauce chicken? or was that some sort of marinade at the bottom, Chiuchow style?

Interesting they have some hakka dishes as well. If you go again, it’ll be interesting to know where the chef cooked before.

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Hi @sck,

Thanks for the great info! That’s really good to know. :slight_smile: That’s a bummer to hear up in SF it’s also similar (with the decline of HK / Cantonese food), but as you describe it, it makes sense with the immigration patterns.

That’s good to know that the noodles should be put on top (over the fish balls and wontons). Interesting! And it was green onions (not yellow chives).

I’ll have to ask my friend to ask the waitress about what fish goes into the soup next time we visit Tam’s. :slight_smile: Re: Oh our HK friend was only comparing from memories. :slight_smile:

The House Special Steamed Chicken tasted like a traditional Green Onion & Ginger Chicken (not Soy Sauce Chicken like those at HK BBQs). Yah I noticed that they served it with a marinade (not just plain Soy Sauce), vs. versions we’ve had that you just dipped the chicken into the green onion & ginger mixture. Is the way Tam’s is serving it Chiuchow style? Good to know.

Yah I’ll have to ask where the chef used to cook at next time. Thanks. :slight_smile:

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Great review as always, the wonton soup does look good. For fun here’s a couple from Hong Kong from a few years ago: As @sck mentioned the wontons are nestled under the thin noodles.

Mak’s Noodle in Central:

IMG_7399

Ho Hung Kee in Causeway Bay:

Ho Hung Kee has a Michelin star! Both were very good but I actually liked the one from Mak’s Noodle a bit better. Springier noodles if I remember correctly.

I haven’t had anything comparable up here in the Bay but to be fair I haven’t been looking very hard.

Odd looking cheung fun, looks deconstructed.

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Thanks @Mr_Happy. :slight_smile: Both bowls like delicious. :slight_smile: I’ll have to bookmark Mak’s Noodles and try it if I’m on vacation in HK.

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Chiu Chow style marinates things like goose and serve the meat with the marinade sitting below the meat. The marinade typically is complex. So if its marinated, it will taste very different from ginger and onion chicken.

A Chiu Chow marinated goose dish will look something like this:
Imgur

I just looked at their menu and its called Empress Chicken. So presumably not Chiu Chow style.

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There isn’t anything comparable here! A good wonton noodle has to do well in 4 fronts- broth, noodle, wonton, and condiments. I will be happy to find a place here that is decent in 2 out of 4…

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The food certainly looks promising!

Hmmm that “Dry Land Fish” (too literal of a translation) should have technically been dried flounder (this according to the Chinese name of the dish and fish in question per Yelp menu pictures). Dried flounder is normally roasted over the stove then put into the wonton broth, along with shrimp roe. This is what classic wonton noodle shops in Hong Kong do as part of broth making.

However, if they are saying “Dried Land Fish” here are the dried anchovy or white bait looking fish for the chives or Chinese broccoli dishes, then that’s the wrong and misleading nomenclature to use (unless the dish was stir fried with some dried flounder powder, which does exist, and can be added to broth as a shortcut method, similar to katsuobushi in powder form for a faster way to make soup stocks. )

Here’s “dry land fish” stir fried with gai lan in Hong Kong. There is a Chiu Chow version of this dish also in Hong Kong, but instead of “dry land fish” it’s called “square fish” (Fong Yu). Essentially both refer to dried flounder that is roasted (or in this case stir fried). It’s an alternate savory component instead of using ham yu/salted fish.

ddy

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Is “Big land fish” what you referred to as “dry land fish”?

The restaurant labled it “dry land fish” on their English menu per Yelp, I’m just quoting.

Yeah it’s also and more appropriately known as Land Fish 地魚, or Big Land Fish 大地魚 which are too literal of a translation for dried flounder (and granted there are possibly different species of the fish but the general consensus appears to be “flounder, or flounder family” when I asked around).

They added the word dry on the menu, maybe simply because the starting material is dried, and part of dried seafood goods. In Chiu Chow Cantonese restaurants in HK they typically call it Fong Yu 方魚, one possible theory is because sometimes the dried flounder is cut into smaller and manageable squares, but it appears Fong Yu is the Chiu Chow dialect for “Big Land Fish”.

Either way, nature’s “MSG”.

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Hi @ColinMorey,

Thanks for the great info! :slight_smile: Yah I had no idea what “Dry Land Fish” was, but the server recommended it, and then found the dish was thankfully pretty tasty. It definitely doesn’t look like the flounder pic you posted, but good to know. I hope to try the OG version one day. :slight_smile:

Are there any decent traditional HK / Cantonese places that you like in your neck of the woods? (Besides HK BBQ greatness like you already recommended.) :wink:

:rofl: :rofl:

Can’t wait to try this place! Especially if it’s better than Noodle Boy.

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Added to my to-do list when I come back to CA!

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Signed up to say thank you for your recommendations. I enjoyed the meal and would revisit again. Orders were:

-Choy sum with oyster sauce (feel like this is a must order again in large part because of the value)
-Combo Lo Mein with wontons and stewed beef (with a bowl of wonton broth? I wasn’t sure how what to do with the broth, but I spooned some broth on top of the noodles which made it more enjoyable. I forgot to ask for chili oil and vinegar as well. This dish isn’t an automatic reorder, but it was my user error and I’ll try again after trying other dishes. The ingredients did taste better than average).
-Dried scallop and egg white fried rice (similarly would not normally order fried rice, but thanks to your review ordered and enjoyed this dish, would reorder again)

-Deep fried tofu with spicy salt (for our vegetarian, this was the only tofu dish we saw on the menu, seems that tofu is not an add-on to dishes in general. A bit oily, and again I forgot to ask for vinegar, but probably wouldn’t reorder).

Thanks for your recommendations, next time would be interested in the congee, chicken chow mein, steamed chicken. I’m also wondering about the French style filet mignon cubes, deep fried porkchop w/ honey garlic sauce or spicy salt, and kung pao chicken.

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