Archive for the ‘SF: Outer Sunset’ Category

h1

Ming Tai Wun-Tun Noodle Inc.

March 16, 2007

Tucked away in the Outer Sunset is one of the lesser-known neighborhood districts in San Francisco, centered on the intersection of 32nd Avenue and Noriega Street. The commercial strip is small, but it has a few interesting restaurants and markets. Hidden in this neighborhood is the nondescript storefront that houses Ming Tai Wun-Tun Noodle Inc., a bona fide Hong Kong-style noodle house.

There are quite a few dishes available, but the menu is not especially deep. Along with a collection of traditional appetizers, starters, and smaller dishes, the entrees essentially consist of a slew of noodle dishes and noodle soups, served with various meats. Unfortunately, this restaurant is not the least bit vegetarian-friendly, but if you are on the lookout for some real-deal Hong Kong noodles, Ming Tai is definitely a restaurant to try. We’ve never been to Hong Kong, but on one occasion, we took someone from Hong Kong to Ming Tai, and he verified for us that both the preparation of the food and the feel of the restaurant were quite similar to what one would find in Hong Kong.

Short Exact and a friend started with the lo bak go,

tb_ming_tai_turnip_cake.JPG

which is the pan fried turnip cake. One often finds these cakes on dim sum rotations, and they can sometimes suffer from blandness and a boring, uniform texture. The cakes we had at Ming Tai were a good example, though. A subtle sweetness was balanced well by the saltiness of the minced Cantonese sausage scattered throughout the cake, and the crisp outer layer was a nice textural contrast to the soft yet dense interior of the cake.

For our entree, we ordered the shui gao noodle soup,

tb_ming_tai_shui_gao.JPG

which is a house specialty at Ming Tai; on the menu, we think it is listed in English as “shrimp dumpling noodle soup.” As it turns out, the broth is actually the weakest link in this soup. It doesn’t really negatively impact the dish, but the flavor profile is rather one-dimensional. The egg noodles were quite nice, though: light and al dente, with just the right amount of springy bounce. The shui gao dumplings steal the show, though. These are some of the best shrimp dumplings to be found in San Francisco, in our opinion, and the use of melted pork fat gives them a strong and delicious flavor. There are only four dumplings in each bowl of soup, but each dumpling contains a few whole shrimp, so it turns out to be quite filling. Tender, perfectly-cooked, and lightly sweet, these shrimp are supplemented by the subtle earthiness of the wood ear mushroom that is also hiding inside each dumpling. It’s true that the broth in the soup is on the weak side, but the dumplings and the noodles more than make up for it. All in all, this is a very good noodle soup, and it is definitely our go-to dish at Ming Tai.

Ming Tai is justifiably popular, and the restaurant is pretty tiny, so you may very well have to wait for a table. Nonetheless, considering the fact that this is an authentic noodle joint, the service is surprisingly attentive and courteous. Ming Tai’s location may be off the beaten path, but a combination of delicious food, generally friendly service, and very reasonable prices make Ming Tai a hidden gem in the Outer Sunset.

RATING:

COST:

2455 Noriega Street (between 31st Ave. and 32nd Ave.)
San Francisco, CA 94122
Phone: 415.681.0430
Hours: Mon, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm; Tuesday, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm; Thurs, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm; Fri, 8:00 am – 9:00 pm, Sat-Sun, 8:30 am – 9:00 pm. Closed Wednesdays.

Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum
Neighborhood: Outer Sunset

How to get there: Ming Tai is directly served by Muni bus line 71. Lines 29, 48, 66, and N are within reasonable walking distance.