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Restaurants & Bars

Chowdown report: Chef Wang (Millbrae)

geofflee | Feb 2, 201810:35 PM     11

It was a pleasure being at Chef Wang today for my first ever Chowhound event! Thanks to Melanie for initiating the event. Apologies to anyone else who made this possible whom I failed to thank.

The restaurant is in a nondescript row of small storefronts. While it is on El Camino Real in Millbrae it is about a mile from the concentrated Chinese restaurant action. I suggest you set your GPS before arriving so that you don’t miss it! There is no dedicated off-street parking for the restaurant and no dedicated handicapped parking spaces on the street close to the restaurant.

As a rookie I found photographing and taking notes on an old (slow) iPhone to be a challenge. Thus I am making excuses in advance for any spottiness and inaccuracies in my review!

Overall I immensely enjoyed the menu and the execution of the dishes. The preparation was certainly well above that of the average corner Chinese restaurant in Silicon Valley. I would swoon if this was my local joint!

Chef Wang is a Shandong regional Chinese restaurant and the objective was to create a menu that favored the regional dishes. Our order was greatly informed by Ed who lived for a time in Korea and whose family has roots in the region. Note that the items were ordered off of the Korean/Chinese menu which does not include any English. I examined the regular menu and could not readily identify equivalents to most of the items we ordered.

“Double Skin” or “Two Skin” - an appetizer with two presentations of mung bean starch noodles. You may already be familiar with “cellophane” noodles which are made with mung bean starch. This dish included larger pieces of mung bean ‘pasta’ as well. See the detail photo. The dish includes a spicy mustard sauce which is mixed in at the table. While the sauce added pungency it was very complementary.

“Sweet and Sour Beef” - (no photo) Beef in a sweet and sour dish was new to me. Thinly sliced beef was battered and deep fried, then served over, not in, a sweet sauce. The batter was delicately crispy, not soggy from the sauce, and the beef was tender.

“Shrimp and Chive Boiled Dumplings”

Japchae - Glass noodles

“Dry fry beans” - This preparation included black beans and a little spicy kick.

“Three Shredded” - (no photo) A soup-y stir fry with shrimp, sea cucumber, onion, bean sprouts. This was the most mild of the dishes we ordered and a good contrast to the big flavors in the other dishes.

“Dry fry shrimp” - Like everything else, the saucing was restrained. I was surprised by but appreciated the sweetness of the dish.

“Dry fry squid” - (no photo) Skillfully cooked. The squid pieces had a more delicate deep-fried batter shell than the shrimp.

“Spicy seafood noodle soup” - Definitely the spiciest of the dishes, I was surprised and pleased by the surprise of dried choy in the broth. The flavor reminded me of the bok choy my aunt used to dry herself and put into chicken soup.

“Zha Jiang noodles” - As you can see from the photo, the noodles and the sauce were brought to the table separately. My previous experience with this dish included pork. I didn’t detect any meat protein in the dish but it didn’t lack for flavor.

Last but not least, the company was amazing. Knowledgeable, smart, funny, one and all. Thank you for making me feel welcome. I look forward to joining Chowhounders around the table again!

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