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Restaurants & Bars 4

Excellent roast pig at W & M Cafe, Fremont

Melanie Wong | Dec 8, 200503:26 AM

Darya is no more. It has been replaced by W&M Cafe. I was there last week on its 5th day of operation and have been back twice since for take-out. Despite all the people bustling about in the kitchen visible through the pass-through, the food comes out a bit slow, but I expect that to improve as the cooks get used to working with each other and coordinating better with the front of the house. But no matter, they are really talented here and the food is cheap and very good. With barbecue, snacks, jook, rice noodle rolls, noodle dishes, rice plates, and desserts, there aren't many surprises on the menu. What stands out is the execution --- textures, knife work, and seasoning at this humble place are much more sophisticated than these simple dishes.

You can order by number here from 1 through 145. At this point, everything is on the printed menu.

My first time here I walked up to the barbecue stand to check out the roast meats. The roast pig, just a portion on display and not a whole pig, looked great and I really wanted to try it. But I got distracted by the Cantonese roast ducks with even, glossy skin and plump profiles. I talked my server into letting me have #93 Roasted Duck on Rice, $5.95, with a little taste of the roast pork for a buck extra. I'm glad I tried both as the pork was just flat out excellent. Well-striated with fat, the tender and juicy meat was subtley seasoned and crowned with a bubbly, crackly skin. The duck was good with notably succulent flesh and some unrendered fat keeping it moist. The skin was still crisp, fresh out of the oven, and fragrant.

I've ordered the roast pig alone as #4 Macou (sic) Style Roasted Pork, $5.00, which has a bed of candied beans. It's boneless, about half a pound's worth and both times has been served just warm enough for the fat to be transparent and glisten. One time the pieces were fattier than I'd like, but the skin has been perfection and the slices cut expertly. I've been pleased that the excellence has been reproduced three times, fully validating the ovens in my book. My brother was mightily impressed with it too when I brought some home to him.

The photo below shows #28 Japanese Style Abalone Salad, $5.00, the only thing I wouldn't order again. The marinade was really nice, but the slices were too chewy to be pleasant to eat.

Other things I've tried and recommend are:

#29 Fresh Tender with Oyster Sauce, $2.75 small and $5.00 large - I really appreciated being able to order a small portion of veggies. Though the Chinese characters say "choi sum", this turned out to be gai lan. My brother doesn't usually like gai lan, finding it too fibrous and hard, but he liked this version. Very fresh and cooked just right.

#52 Beef with Pickledd Cabbage Rice Noodle Roll, $3.00 - The ultra-fresh sticky, gooey kind of noodle roll if you like that style. The beef filling was about the same as everyone else's, yet the dipping sauce was extra delicious.

#86 House Special Pan Fried Noodles, $6.95 - This was a Hong Kong style crispy noodle cake with lots of wok hay. For take-out, the gravy with toppings were boxed separately so that the noodles didn't get soggy in transit, a nice touch. This had some tender char siu cut in thick slices, chicken, squid, shrimp, carrots, and Shanghai cabbages. It was a very good rendition, and I look forward to trying it in the restaurant at the peak of freshness.

#122 Fresh Mango Pudding, $2.50 - A softer and creamier style with less gelatin and more butterfat, plus diced fresh mango. Luscious, delicious, loved it.

The woman who mans the cash register and speaks very good English told me that this was a soft opening. There won't be any ads until everything is working smoothly and the dishes are consistent. I couldn't get her to reveal where the chef was from, but she did say he was experienced at a high level place. Oh, and she told me the Chinese name of the restaurant is Wo Hing.

Give it a try before the prices increase and the crowds show up.

W&M Cafe
(Ranch 99 shopping center)
34420-D Fremont Blvd.
Sun-Thurs, 10am to 11:30pm
Fri & Sat, 10am to 12am

Image: http://static.flickr.com/20/71424474_...

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