It had been about a year since I first posted about Red Moon Noodle House. Some things had changed since then. They had started serving lunch, which I think is a good move. There's a bit of a buzz because of their "secret menu" that I first read about on Convoy Conquest, then on This Tasty Life. With a post by Kirbie in the mix. So perhaps it was about time for a revisit.
The interior remains the same, as does the really nice folks who run the place.
I'm thinking the lunch hours help the place as does the advertising in Lighthouse. On both of my visits, most of the customers I saw were Japanese. It's probably a good move for the place. Even though the owner is ethnically Chinese, he's from Japan.
On my first visit, to get things off to a good start, I ordered the dish I enjoyed most during my previous visits; the House Special Chicken with Garlic Sauce. Earlier I described this as being a " poor man's Dezhou Pa Ji/Dao Ko Shao Ji". Well, it seems like we're getting a bit more poor here.....
I liked the color, but this had much less flavor and was much more dry than what I'd had before. I had already thought that it needed a more complex vinegar-sweet flavor, or something to balance out the raw garlic......it seemed to have taken a step in the opposite direction. Sadly, this was still the best item I had on my visits.
Now on to the "not so secret - secret menu" item, the Xiao Long Bao. When the white distilled vinegar and sparse shreds of ginger hit my table, I knew I was in trouble. I mean really, I don't mind changes if you have something that you think is an improvement; but this is just cheaping your way through this. Oh, and maybe adding Chinkiang Black Vinegar might help that chicken a bit too.
Geez, these were bad....the first thing that went through my head was "where are you buying these"...because the hard and dried out wrappers leads me to believe they had been frozen for a while. Also, there was a distinct lack of soup and the filling was on the tough and chewy side. 'Nuff said. If you want to compete with DumplingInn for the worst XLB, I say you got a contender here. Sad that a place with such nice folks would serve something like this..... But, like friends tell me, I'm the only person they know who thinks that "Din Tai Fung's XLB is kind of a gimmick." So it's probably a personal problem......
I really didn't feel good about doing just a single visit. I really wanted to find something I thought was good here, so I decided to give it another try.
I ordered another dish I'd had before, the Shrimp Pan Fried Noodles, which I thought had some potential, but was just very weak in flavor.
Well, I gotta give it to Red Moon. If anything, they sure are consistent. The noodles are crisp without being powdery, the shrimp so nicely done, for some reason, they like their vegetables this side of what I consider optimal, but that's no big deal. What is a big deal for me is the lack of flavor........this was so bland. I did something I almost never do, as I want to understand the flavor....I made friends with the white pepper and soy sauce...Kikkoman soy sauce....for Chinese food. I took most of it home and had the Missus try this. The only thing She could say was "so sad......."
I also decided to try something I hadn't had before, the Crispy Garlic Chicken.
To me, this tasted like an overcooked chicken katsu (which it was) with a drizzle of something like katsu sauce, topped with a brown sauce. At least this had flavor, but it seemed like something I'd do at home. And that Chicken Katsu was really tough.
I had thoughts of going back to Red Moon yet another time, but decided to give it a rest. This is not my cup of tea. I will say that Red Moon serves the best "Chinese" style food in that strip mall, but being better than A Cafe....I dunno if that's much of a prize. All I can say is horrible parking lot, mediocre food, very nice folks.
Red Moon Noodle House
4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111