Phaedra Cook's Top 10 - 2015 (Houston Press)

Just released this AM.

I have been impressed w/Cook this year. She’s been contributing to the Press for years but seems to have moved into the position of chief reviewer and has show the willingness to post negative reviews, which the previous reviewer seemed very reluctant to do.

Wow, I thought you were talking about Alison, that’s how long it’s been since I’ve checked in with the Press. I’ll have to go there more.

Because I am somewhat of a wonton noodle soup geek, I read with interest that the house wonton noodle soup from Mein that they profiled at No. 8, has many additional ingredients (fried wonton, egg, minced pork, pork belly, lard, cilantro) compared to the classic wonton noodle soup (noodle, wonton, chives). If anybody has had them both, how do they compare? Is the doctored one better than the original? Regardless, its a smart way to offer a higher-priced version since I always think that wonton noodle soup is underpriced compared to other noodle types like ramen.

Also, are the noodles really handmade? seems to be difficult for a restaurant that doesn’t specialize mostly on noodles.

I would say they’re not really comparable; they are very different. Of course, I’ve only had the special version, not the regular one.

I went today with some new acquaintances and had to try the special version. It was very good, very filling, a very good bargain for the price. I don’t think I would get it again unless that was all I wanted. The menu seemed larger than what’s posted online.

We enjoyed the room; it was a little noisy for our tastes. The wait staff is all very young and very polite. One of the chefs stopped by the table and lingered about 5 minutes talking to us, making sure everything was okay and explaining a few things. He said the broth is simmered for 26 hours and started listing the ingredients but couldn’t (or maybe didn’t want to) remember them all. The noodles in the soup were very thin and I was struck by the texture. He was explaining that’s ‘Hong Kong Style’ and said Cantonese/Hong Kong Chinese want their noodles crispy. I wouldn’t have used the term crispy for the texture but I would say they were beyond al dente. It was a new texture to me.

As to whether their noodles are handmade, well, the name of the place is ‘Noodles!’ I did find this old article on Culture Map with a picture of a noodle press in the gallery; if they use a noodle press are they not considered handmade?

The kitchen was mostly open but I was so engaged in conversation with my table mates I didn’t pay any attention whether I cold see any noodle making going on while we were there.

I didn’t even take my camera, thinking I wouldn’t have been able to improve on the photo above. I might have been able to but its too late now.

I wasn’t as impressed with this place as I was with Cooking Girl.

This traditional maker uses a noodle press as well ( 0’52" ), though there is no question that the noodle is handmade ( 0’44" and before )

Traditional wonton noodle is served in a very small bowl. Reason is to keep the noodle from becoming mushy and losing that texture. Though that size is not as common any more.