*** 04/03/2011 You can find an update here.
Tucked in a strip mall on Telegraph Canyon Road in Chula Vista is Mandarin Canton, like Golden Chopstick, a Chinese-American-Filipino restaurant.
One night about a year ago, the Missus called from work and told me she thinks she found that "noodle dish" I'd been looking for. What I'd been looking for is called "Cake Noodle" in Hawaii, and I've never seen it anywhere on the Mainland. I've had some dishes that used pan fried noodles, but they were not even close.
Cake Noodles are usually thin egg noodles that are fried until crispy in a pan (thus the cake), cut into squares, and topped with a thick stir fried "gravy" and various meats and veggies. I knew this was a Filipino-American Chinese restaurant when I noticed that no chopsticks are provided and we are served what we jokingly call Chinese Tortilla Chips! Actually these won ton pi chips are very sneaky, served with sweet and sour sauce, you end up eating one after the other....
On this visit I was really surprised that lunch specials were being served on a Sunday! The specials come with soup and either Fried Rice or Steamed Rice and range between $3.75-$4.75. One quick tip - stay with the steamed rice! We ordered one item off the lunch menu, and two off of the regular menu:
We received the Shrimp with Lobster Sauce ($4.75) that the Missus ordered off the specials menu:
I was pretty surprised to find that we got a whole order of Shrimp with Lobster Sauce. Shrimp with Lobster sauce is not my favorite dish, I call it "egg drop soup with shrimp", but the Missus enjoys it. This version was very mild, though the shrimp were large and tasty, ditto with the water chestnuts. It also started congealing as soon as it hit the table.
The Salted and Deep Fried Shrimp with No Shell ($11.00) came up next:
So fried, salty, garlicky, slightly spicy, and crunchy.....I don't think you need to say anything else about this dish. It's probably the most expensive dish on the menu, but it's alot of really large shrimp. I once saw a Young Lady order this with a side of the garlic/green onion/chili pepper topping, and eat a spoonful of the garlic with each shrimp, and loving it! Make sure you order them without shell.
Than came the dish I came here for - the Upside Down Pan Fried Noodles ($6.50). Yes, it's actually called that on the menu:
The noodles are fried to a crisp than topped with veggies and meats in a brown sauce. The sauce is nice and salty, sweet, and gooey, and slowly softens the noodles. My only complaint is that there is not enough brown sauce. The Missus ended up spooning her rice into the empty plate to sop up the remaining sauce. There are large shrimp, beef, and chicken, along with broccoli and snow peas.
So is it Cake Noodle? Well not really, but it's close enough for me.
Some notes on Mandarin Canton: Like many of these places Your Mileage May Vary, there are some really terrible dishes here, so pick and choose based on what you see others eating. There are only ten tables, and a constant flow of people in and out, but the turnaround is pretty quick. Mandarin Canton is a "Player" in the "Best Salt and Pepper Wings" battle going on, but is not as good as Golden Chopstick, though Golden Chopstick's Upside Down Pan Fried Noodles (yes, they have them there as well), is not as good as Mandarin Canton's. I've actually swung by both restaurants on a single take-out trip. Don't eat here if you are afraid of salt and MSG, though I've never had any problems or reactions from the food, I'm pretty sure it's there.