As a San Franciscan, just home from two nights in Stockton, California (Land of the Mall; Land of the Chain Restaurant; Land of Female Beauty through Better Engineering), I wanted to report on three eating experiences. Make that four.
We arrived late Friday morning—in time for lunch before our late-afternoon commitments.
Guided partly by the magazine in our hotel room, we found our way to Dave Wong’s, said to be an award-winner for Chinese food in Stockton. And, y’know? It wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it was one of those just-what-the-doctor-ordered experiences.
Wong’s proved to sport a beautiful suite of rooms, all warm greys, and widely spaced tables, almost every one filled. Businesspeople at one; a cop and associated female at another; a senior-citizen couple directly across from us. There were curtained booths, an luxurious drapery.
This wasn’t linoleum-table Asian food—but pretty upscale stuff, with prices to match. Not daunting, but not cheap. Things like wok-charred vegetables; lettuce cups; Crab Rangoon.
We went simple:Ms M had the House Chow Mein and was delighted. A large plate of noodles, with meats, bok choy, great, freshly-cooked shrimp, etc.
I went for a pea-shoot salad, because the concept sounded pretty cool. Maybe not the greatest choice—the honey-mustard dressing meant it could have been used any kind of greens and you’d never know the difference. But it was refreshing, still (temperatures outside were in the 90s), and generous.
If we lived in Stockton, we’d be back.
Wong’s has no website of its own that I can find, but:
2828 W March Lane,
Stockton, CA 95219
For dinner that night, battered by the heat, we went to Mezzo (around the corner from our hotel, as Wong’s was just up the street). The place was full, but they seated us. Everyone around us looked happy, the busperson was generous with the water, we settled in and ordered:
For herself, a beet salad made with Treviso cabbage, other greens, and nuts; and a small Cecca: Angel-hair pasta with a tomato-basil-pinenut sauce. Also: a glass of rosé from Monterey (not a success) and a Petite Syrah from Lodi (better).
I had tuna cruda—a small cake or timbale of marinated tuna, beautiful, with fried won ton skins—and the same pasta. A glass of Albariño from Lodi (great!) and another white, grape and provenance now forgotten.
No coffee or dessert—total about $87 including tip, and we’d be back often if we lived in town.
In fact, heat-battered again on Saturday, we went back, this time with reservations ahead. …again, a great experience.
She had a spinach salad that included apples and nuts; and a three-cheese pasta.
I had a Caprese salad (three different-colored, large tomato slices; several different kinds or maybe ages of Mozzarella, great olive oil, and balsamic vinegar) and Bucatini—pasta with a duck sauce which proved to be the same tomato-with-a-kick sauce as the night before, with chunks of roasted duck (no bones/no fat/no skin) mixed in. Not exactly what I expected, but satisfying, satisfying.
We shared a bottle of rosé from Lodi (a little sweet at first, but went great with the food).
It’s hard to say enough about the care and professionalism of the staff or the casual comfort of the restaurant—in an office park, mind you…
So, leaving town on the Sunday, we found Stockton’s Miracle Mile. Seems to have its charms—boutiques and a theater and such. Wanting to fortify ourselves for the drive across the San Joaquin Delta, we stopped at Valley Brewing Company.
Now, brew pubs are brew pubs. These days they can seem interchangeable. There was sports memorabilia all over (a Bobby Hull jersey in Stockton? huh?), exposed brick, pictures of old breweries, menu heavy on the chips and guy food, waitresses who were trashy in a wholesome way. …like that. . But again: favorably impressed.
MsM had a local beer that she described as resembling Newcastle Brown Ale; and a fried eggplant sandwich about which she is still raving (“the eggplant was hot! it was runny! and the tomato was cool!”).
I had their red ale, and would have had several, but for the drive to come; and a tri-tip sandwich. Nice. We both had cole slaw that was good enough to inspire me to make slaw when we got home.
Again: recommended, no question, no hesitation.
Stockton does not have a great reputation in the rest of California, and I note that commentary in Chowhound tends to gloss over the city in favor of Lodi or to identify food you’d eat while in a hurry going up or down I-5. But Stockton has some things going on; there is no reason to feel stranded when you fetch up there.
Dave Wong's Restaurant
2828 W March Ln, Stockton, CA 95219
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