*** As of August 2011 Asian Noodles has closed
And the Gal who works there is always waving us in whenever we're looking in the window. So I asked around about this place and found that they make their own noodles, and that the dish to order was the Pancit Canton(Chow Mein - $6.50).
And so one afternoon we gave in to temptation and decided to have a snack, and ordered the Pancit Canton:
What came to the table was a very large plate of stir-fried noodles with beef, pork, shrimp, chicken, and various vegetables. The sauce was very thin, soy sauce based, and very, very salty. And the noodles were much too soft, almost mushy. This was a dish that was really not to my taste. I found out later that the noodles were supposed to be cooked soft, so I thought this was pretty much the end of this. Just something that I would post about on when I had time. But that was not to be so.
You see, I made a point to make sure to see a Documentary called Chinese Restaurants on The Islands during the San Diego Film Festival. It was an engrossing film that looked at the Chinese diaspora, through the Chinese Restaurant. The film covered three different Families on the islands of Trinidad, Mauritius and Cuba. In each location "Chinese cuisine" had evolved to account for tastes and resources. During the film, the front window of Asian Noodles stuck in my mind:
It said, "Home of the Famous Ma Mon Luk Family", "From Manila Chinatown". I just knew that there was a story here. So again I asked around and mostly just learned that Ma Mon Luk was a famous figure in "Chinoy" cuisine, the blending of Filipino and Chinese food, that includes Siopao and Siomai, the Filipino version of Charsiu Bao and Siu Mai.
After googling Ma Mon Luk, I found an article in The Manila Bulletin Online about Ma Mon Luk. In short Ma Mon Luk, was a poor migrant from Canton, who traveled to the Philippines in 1918. Though trained as a teacher in his homeland, he found his fortune creating and peddling what is now known as Siopao and Siomai; and most importantly, the dish now known as Mami; the Chinese based noodle in broth. My favorite quote from the article: "In prosperity Ma Mon Luk was dressed in a felt hat, de hilo amaricana cum vest and glittering gold watch chain across his chest. It hid the fact that his left shoulder was lower than his right, a result of supporting the pinga (carrying pole) in the hard beginning days of his youth. Tango shoes hid his feet calloused from a once-daily routine of walking over the bridge to the ice plant to save 5 centavos on caretela fare."
So what did this mean? It meant I had to pay a visit to Asian Noodles, and get me some Mami! So I found myself in the restaurant, and again the Ultra Energetic Liza, the Gal who always tried to wave us into the place, took my order. This time for the Beef Mami ($5.50):
In all honesty I was expecting to be underwhelmed. But to my surprise, this was a decent Beef Noodle soup. No, it wasn't Niu Rou Mein. The broth was a light beef broth, just faintly beefy, I'd been expecting the noodles to be mushy, but they were pretty good. Think somen in flavor and width, with a little bit more "pull", not bad, really. There were 3 "won tons", that could have been a bit more flavorful; but the beef made up for it all. The pieces of beef were very tender, with a bit of fat and tendon on each piece, and because of the nice soy and sweetness was obviously braised separately. Though it was not an especially large bowl, it filled me up. I'd definitely have this again. This beef noodle soup with a history.......
1430 E Plaza Blvd
National City, CA 91950
10am - 8pm Daily