Swoon for Woon
If you are craving Chinese food and happen to be near Los Feliz, there’s a strong chance you‘ll find yourself in line at Pine and Crane. However, under the sweltering SoCal sun, that line can feel more like a test of human endurance and less like an opportunity to eat good Chinese food.
Thankfully, there are equally excellent Chinese restaurants in the area without that long of a wait. One such place is Woon, a small Shanghainese restaurant located in Historic Filipinotown.
Woon is a family-run restaurant. Owner Keegan Fong’s mother is Woon’s head chef. Fondly known as Mama Fong, she’ll occasionally make rounds to check on each table to make sure you’re enjoying yourself.
Photographs of Mama Fong and her family are on hung up alongside a beautiful oil canvas of Hong Kong that her brother and Keegan’s uncle made. The rest of the the brightly lit, all-white interior space feature modern furniture and original artwork made by family friends Peter Wilday and Ty Williams. The aesthetic makes Woon feels less like a typical Chinese restaurant and more like your Chinese friend’s dining room, especially if that friend subscribes to Monocle and enjoys listening to Maggie Rogers.
Woon’s menu doesn’t try to overwhelm you with an abundant of choices and instead offers a tightly curated selection of mains, sides, and salads. Best of all, prices are affordable, which makes it easy to order the entire menu.
The pickled radishes are crunchy and spicy cucumbers are pungent. For something adventurous, try the wood ear mushroom and bean curd stick salad. The different textures and flavors feel perfectly balanced with no ingredient overpowering the rest.
Solid options like gai lan and tofu fish cakes can be had as sides. Pork baos are overflowing with succulent pork belly, mustard greens, and pickled vegetables. And if one is craving vegetables, the soy veggie wraps are packed with delicious pieces of baked tofu and shiitake mushrooms along with yellow chives and bean sprouts.
Woon offers three main dishes. A fried rice and two noodle dishes - one vegetarian and one with beef. The fried rice is done well and has a slightly sweet taste due to the Chinese sausage. However, the noodles are the stand out dish. The noodles themselves are chewy yet tender and have a slight smokey taste from being stir fried. Combined with bright and umami packed oyster and shiitake mushrooms, the dish is the perfect example of Shanghainese cuisine: strong flavors that work in harmony with each other.
There’s only one dessert dish at Woon - ice cream in a deep fried bao. It’s the perfect way to cap off the meal and thank Mama Fong for inviting you into her kitchen.