One of my co-workers recently returned from a trip to the East Coast and expounded about a team meal of Chinese food he enjoyed during his stay. The dishes were complex and beautiful, yet devoid of the omnipresent application of viscous, sweet sauces that dominated his longstanding favorites here in St. Louis.
I was excited to hear about his first run in with a traditional Chinese meal and suggested that he should seek out some of the excellent Chinese to be found in The Gateway City, starting with a sampling of Cantonese dishes from Wonton King in University City.
These days, there are few things as comforting to me than a pile of noodles, and Wonton King serves up one of my favorites: roasted duck that has been shredded into strips, crisp vegetables, sour Chinese pickles and thin, chewy vermicelli noodles that have been quickly fried in a wok. When the noodles arrive tableside, take a healthy scoop of chile oil, pool it on the side of your dish and alternate between eating the dish as it is served and then infused with a kick of heat that brings savory duck and pickles to life.
Lunchgoers may find Cantonese servings smaller than their Chinese-American counterparts, which is great because it leaves room for a sweet from Wonton King’s truncated weekend dim sum menu. Unlike the full menu - presented off steam carts that move among tables - weekday dim sum are prepared to order (expect a menu with a brief explanation of each item, ordered like sushi) and walked to your table right after they are made. The reality is a whole lunch can - and let’s be honest, should - be made of these bite-size morsels – but that’s for another column. For today, an order of jin deui - a ball of rice flour, filled with a core of lotus paste and coated with sesame seeds before frying - makes for the perfect ending to a most excellent lunch of noodles.
Wonton King, 8116 Olive Blvd., University City, 314.995.6982
Tired of reheating last night's dinner for lunch? Every Monday, food writer Andrew Mark Veety guides you to some of the best midday meals in the St. Louis region, with great places to bring clients or enjoy an outing with your co-workers. Missed one of his columns? Check them out here.