One Quick Bite Part I: Wo Hing General Store

Pork belly with Chinese noodles at the new Wo Hing General Store.

Opened late last year in the original location of the Slanted Door in San Francisco’s Mission District, Wo Hing General Store is the latest addition to the ever-growing empire of Chef Charles Phan.

It’s named for his Uncle Wo and his Dad, Hing, who opened a general store together in Vietnam after fleeing China. It serves up modern-interpretations of Chinese dishes such as jook, ma po tofu, pork and shrimp won tons, and barbecue pork spareribs with harissa — all executed by Chef Michelle Mah, formerly of Ponzu in San Francisco.

As happens when I’m out and about in the Bay Area on assignments for newspapers or magazines, I found myself in the vicinity of the restaurant after concluding an interview. In need of some lunch-time sustenance, I decided to give Wo Hing a try on my own dime.

It’s a casual place, dominated on the first floor by a large sleek bar with a colorful Asian graphic hanging above it.

The eye-catching bar.

Since I was eating by myself, I ordered just one dish — the 5-spice roasted pork belly with sweet soy shiitake mushrooms and Chinese Kansui noodles ($14), which are akin to thicker ramen noodles.

While I was waiting, the server brought over a bowl of complimentary boiled peanuts in the shell to tide me over. As I munched on those, I sipped a delightful Ginger Rickey ($6), a nonalcoholic spritzer of ginger syrup, lime and soda water. Garnished with a lime slice and a sliver of candied ginger, the drink had the definite throaty burn of ginger, which I love.

Easy-to-peel boiled peanuts.

A fabulous Ginger Rickey.

My bowl of noodles arrived hot and filled to the brim. Slices of juicy, fatty pork belly blanketed the top with a few choice mushrooms. The noodles were nicely springy. The broth, though, was not as robust as expected. It was nourishing, but with an almost pork-light flavor. For ramen aficionados used to very intense broths, this one might prove too tame.

After chatting with another lone diner at a table next to mine, who raved about her favorites of gai lan and Westlake beef jook, I’m eager to come back again when I can try more than one quick bite.

Tomorrow: Another One Quick Bite — In Wine Country at the Kitchen Door

More: A Taste of Charles Phan’s Heaven’s Dog Restaurant

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Date: Thursday, 12. January 2012 5:26
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Chefs, General, Restaurants

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8 comments

  1. 1

    YUM! I would LOVE a hot bowl of noodles right now! Boiled peanuts have always been a childhood favorite of mine. We used to have them at all the family gatherings and I’d get in trouble for getting the shells everywhere! LOL.

  2. 2

    Mmmmmh….noodles. I could use a bowl of that right about now. ;)

  3. 3

    You said pork belly and paf!.. I appeared. Magical, isn’t it? :)

  4. 4

    What a beautiful and nutritious looking soup. So many flavours in that bowl. I love the red and white straw in the drink too. And I think the prices at this restaurant are very reasonable.

  5. 5

    […] Quick Bite Part I: Wo Hing General Store Share and […]

  6. 6

    Interesting to hear your take on Phan’s production of Chinese comfort food with upscale prices. It’s a challenge attempting that given how you can get some really decent dishes at a much lower price at other Chinese restaurants in the city. And really, gai lan? It must be a miracle reproduction of this everyday greens to really bring someone to try a restaurant. That said, those pork belly slices look like perfection!

  7. 7

    It doesn’t look like a general store to me — more like a culinary haven, the kind that you find in places like New York restaurants ;)

  8. 8

    Ahh that picture of the soup just screams …or should I say whispers comfort to me :D

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