Dry Wonton Noodle at Chino's Fast Food

Categories: On the Menu

IMG_6035.JPG
Mai Pham
Dry wonton noodle soup at Chino's Fast Food
Over the years, I've gotten really sensitive to MSG (monosodium glutamate), the cooking additive Asians often use to enhance flavor. In addition to making me extremely drowsy, I sometimes get blinding headaches from eating a large bowl of noodle soup.

The problem is, I love Asian noodle soups. They're cheap, hearty and, for me, the ultimate Asian comfort food. So to get around this problem, I make a habit of ordering the soups dry.

A "dry" noodle soup means that the noodles are poached and served sans broth. To make the the poached noodles tastier, they are often tossed in some sort of sauce. The broth is served in a bowl on the side. I usually take a few sips of the broth to wash down the dryness, but my mom loves to just dump the broth into the bowl, eating it as if she didn't order it dry. She likes the added flavor of the dry noodle sauce, claiming that it gives the broth that extra punch.

For dry wonton noodle soup, my go-to place is Chino's Fast Food (12313 Bellaire Blvd, # O). Tucked away behind a pawn shop in what was once a dilapidated old strip mall at Bellaire and Cook, Chino's Fast Food is at once a food to-go place, a stop-off-at-the-end-of-the-day-quick-meal place, and a cheap-Asian-comfort-food place.

If you're familiar with Tan Tan, the food is similar, but where Tan Tan is now a large, sprawling, commercial-feeling restaurant, Chino's is still the quintessential hole in the wall.

The strip mall has gotten a recent exterior facelift, but inside, Chino's is still the same: same low ceilings with dim fluorescent lights, same brown laminate tables and retro-feel chairs. The floor is never sparkling, but the service is super-fast. About five minutes after I order, there's piping-hot food on the table.

I order the "large" dry wonton noodle soup, which gets you an extra helping of noodles, not wontons. The noodles are slightly chewy, the perfect Asian al dente, and the sauce is a slightly sweet soy. Julienned strips of barbecue pork char siu and a smattering of green onions are all that's added for flavor.

In the side bowl, you get about five or six medium-size wontons, which is usually enough for me. If I want more wontons, I tell them so, and it's an additional charge. If you let the wontons sit in the bowl too long, the wrappers will get a bit mushy, which is what happened this particular occasion when I took so much time taking pictures.

You see, the key to Chino's Fast Food is "fast." It's fast service, fast food and fast eating. I was in and out in less than 30 minutes from the time I ordered to the time I finished my bowl and stood up. And that's exactly why I go to Chino's. At the end of a long, hard day, when I don't want to cook and I don't want to go hungry, Chino's will always deliver a solid, cheap meal without any fuss.



Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Location Info

Venue

Map

Chino's Fast Food

12313 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Christine Ha
Christine Ha

I love, love, love this dish.  Chino has the best won ton noodle soup, too, and fried rice.

Clairvoyage
Clairvoyage

Note that it's cash only. I went Saturday with my son and had to split a dish due to cash shortage in wallet. Great stuff, though, and nice peeps.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Good point! I forgot to mention it because it's pretty much a given. Most places in Chinatown, by virtue of being so cheap, are cash only. Glad you liked it, though!

Clairvoyage
Clairvoyage

Also tried the bahn mi place you wrote about. Had the combination which included meatballs. Dreamy stuff. And the crunchy baguette rocks beyond the rest. And....the ladies were actually smiling at me (and this during the 'black month')

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

They smiled at you?! I'm jealous! I've been going there for I don't know how long and they always eye me like the enemy. I'm tickled pink that you tried my recs, though. It made my day. Thanks for reading (and eating)!

Sanitsam
Sanitsam

Great piece, Mai! I'm giving it a try all the way.

So much more interesting to find gems like these that are inexpensive, tasty and fast, than hearing about overrated, overdecorated mediocrities like Mai's.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Sanitsam, hope you enjoy it! The dry egg noodles, "mi", are really the bomb. Other comfort food items include the "banh bot chien," a close second to Tan Tan's version, the fried rice with shrimp and salty fish " com chien tom ca man", and the pan fried chow fun noodles with beef and chinese brocolli "hu tieu ap chao bo cai lan". Half the fun is figuring out what to order, so when in doubt, just spy on the other tables to see what looks good.

Doc Ricky
Doc Ricky

*sigh* here we go again with the MSG

http://www.salon.com/food/feat...

this is patently a myth. MSG is a simple salt of glutamate, one of the 20 essential amino acids. It's the primary agonist for the umami receptor. It *is* umami. I sympathize with your self diagnosis, but 20-30 years of scientific research has not revealed ANY link between MSG usage and the so-called "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome". Please stop using this bromide.

John Kiely
John Kiely

I taunted my brother for the same reason, until he got an immediate headache from a turkey sandwich. He didn't know I used Japanese mayonnaise, and I didn't know it had MSG until I investigated. Genetic variability...

http://www.independent.co.uk/n...

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

@Doc Ricky, I would love to see a peer reviewed journal citation from PubMed rather than something written by the Arts editor of Salon Magazine. Whether msg is the actual culprit or something else in the soup, I can tell you from personal (and yes anecdotal) experience that 9 times out of 10, if I eat a big bowl of Asian soup and drink all the broth, I have these problems I cited at the beginning of my blog. Since cutting out the broth, I don't suffer from those post-Asian-soup symptoms.

Nate
Nate

Amen, brother. Amen.

I guess another self diagnosis could be that those symptoms are cause by the very high sodium levels. Or maybe the aluminum pot the broth was cooked in. Or, egads, the Houston TAP water used.

Minh T Truong
Minh T Truong

must go to Chinatown this weekend!....I used to get the dry noodles with seafood at Tan Tan and get an extra side of wontons....this place sounds great I'll have to check it out!

Now Trending

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...