The Joy Luck Club is a novel by Amy Tan that narrates the lives of four Chinese women living in San Francisco and their relationships with their Chinese-American daughters. They gather monthly to discuss their lives and commiserate about their difficult pasts as they play mahjong.
While food is not the central focus of the book it is one of the features that ties these women together, where there is a gathering of friends, there is food. It is an integral part of how these women connect with their culture as they come to grips with their lives in America, and also how they communicate their heritage to their daughters.
Food is an important part of what defines any culture around the world and Tan brings to life flavors and aromas of Chinese food that will make you want to rush out and make some for yourself.
“Time to eat, ” Auntie An-mei happily announces, bringing out a steaming pot of the wonton she was just wrapping. There are piles of food on the table, served buffet style, just like at the Kweilin feasts. My father is digging into the chow mein, which still sits in an oversize aluminum pan surrounded by little plastic packets of soy sauce. Auntie An-mei must have bought this on Clement Street. The wonton soup smells wonderful with delicate sprigs of cilantro floating on top. I’m drawn first to a large platter of chaswei, sweet barbecued pork cut into coin-sized slices, and then to a whole assortment of what I’ve always called finger goodies-thin-skinned pastries filled with chopped pork, beef, shrimp, and unknown stuffings that my mother used to describe as “nutritious things.”
We have a few great bowls of Wonton Soup that you may try today with minimal effort. Bring plenty of friends and make the rounds.
rich and flavorful King’s Noodles
FIRST CHINESE BBQ: We have mentioned this mecca in the past, and if you indulge we will once again. Gargantuan bowls of wonton may find you as Richard the Lion-Hearted said, a wanton ambling nymph. Massive wonton await with a rich, smooth broth. The golf ball-sized sheets are filled with shrimp, and this bowl may feed a hearty family of five easily. I have seen grown humans tackle the bowl with success, which is a modern miracle.
KINGS NOODLES: There may be a time when you are met with giant hordes bustling about at First Chinese BBQ, and there is no time for that when on a wonton rampage. Hustle across the thoroughfare to Kings Noodles and put in your order post-haste. You will secure a large bowl filled with pickled mustard greens, pickled radish, and fat choy. You will also find man-sized wonton packed with both beef and shrimp, as well as bonus house-made noodles.
MONKEY KING: Possibly the most accommodating order of wonton soup can be had at the Monkey King where owner Andrew Chan gives us more choices than should be humanly possible. Beef, pork, chicken wonton in any broth the house has on hand. All equally filling and equally delicious.
WU WEI DIN: Plano hosts this terrific hotspot which features large steaming bowls of wonton soup of the pork or shrimp varieties. It won’t matter which you choose this round because both are ravaging.