The Minty’s Wonton Party: Ho Kee Cafe
After our excursion to Noodle Boy, we headed to Ho Kee and really pigged out with lots of dishes other than wontons.
I’m a little sad our adventures in all things wontons ends today. It was quite the party all week visiting with Auntie Ping Kitchen, The Congee, Noodle Boy, Golden Bull Noodle, Harlam’s Kitchen and now Ho Kee Cafe.
I mentioned earlier than Noodle Boy is generally accepted as the unofficial best wonton in the San Gabriel Valley. But based on my own experience of eating there once and never returning, I wasn’t too sure. I knew going to Hong Kong last fall would ruin me on wontons. The same thing happened to me when I was 10 and came back a wonton snob.
So, I brushed up on what makes a good Cantonese/ Hong Kong style wonton.
- First, the broth is everything. It should have that deep seafood flavor. This is usually achieved through a combination of fresh and fried seafood.
- I also like yellow leeks over green onions in the broth.
- The wrappers should be thin- so you can see the pink of the shrimp.
- I personally like bits of shrimp but having a whole one(s) stuffed into the wontons are a treat as well.
- I know the big ones at The Congee and Noodle Boy are fan favorites but I like seeing the wonton wrappers float around in the soup like fish fins. The huge ones simply don’t have enough wrapper to do that.
- And if you order your wontons with noodles, they should be bouncy ones with a good chew.
- At Hong Kong spots, they will serve the noodles on top of the wontons so they don’t get too mushy.
I’m naming Ho Kee as my current favorite wonton in the San Gabriel Valley. I might have to do a revisit of a couple of spots but this is my Wonton Party so I’m calling it for Ho Kee.
I liked the salt and pepper squid. It wasn’t oily at all. I did think it needed some sort of sauce or more spicy salt in the batter.
We also got black bean fish. The fish was great with plain rice.
Ho Kee has a back page of specials but most have to be ordered at least four hours in advance including the Winter Melon soup. However, our friendly server mentioned they could do the egg custard that’s steamed in a crab shell (there are bits of crab in the custard/pudding). This is like the pumped up version of possibly more familiar Japanese chawanmushi.
But this was definitely more aggressive in terms of the crab smell. I liked it though. This dish would go well with plain rice.
The pea tendrils/ sprouts were a little over cooked but they were appreciated.
I’d like to bring my family here to try out more dishes. I feel they’d appreciate the warmth and happy vibes of the staff.
Ho Kee Cafe533 S Del Mar Ave., San Gabriel, CA 91776 — (626) 766-1076 Further reading:
The Minty’s Wonton Party
Noodle Boy (2019)
Other Wonton Spots in SGV
Noodle Boy (my original write-up from 2011)
Mr. Champion (Cantonese spot but wontons are just pork)
J&K Hong Kong Cuisine (Chinatown)
New Dragon (Chinatown, recommended)
Uncle John’s Cafe (DTLA)
China Cafe (DTLA)
Ho Ming Kee (Hong Kong)
Mak’s Noodle (Hong Kong- one of my two favorites in HK)
Tsim Chai Kee (my other Hong Kong fave)
Hong Kong Chef (San Jose, CA)
Canton Wonton House (Seattle)
Mike’s Noodle House (Seattle, not recommended)
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