By Kristi OHarran Special to The Herald
Saying farewell to perfecto barbecued pork noodles is as painful as losing Mr. Salty pretzels. Remember when they stopped selling Mr. Salty, who wore a jaunty sailor suit on the blue box?
I still mourn.
My latest sorrow is due to the September closure of Wong’s China Kitchen in Lynnwood. Some folks drive past it, in snootymobiles, on the way to Red Lobster. They think Wong’s, at 43rd and 196th Street SW, looks rundown so they thumb their noses.
What a missed opportunity. Sure, we avoided using the Wong’s restrooms, but to dine on delish Chinese food was worth the hand sanitizer.
The owners are retiring at the of September after more than 35 years at this location. Rumor has it the building will become a pizza place. Oh, the horror. I don’t eat pizza. I eat barbecued pork noodles and have for 60 years.
Picture a bowl of spaghetti noodles in a mild broth. It comes with little slices of barbecued pork and green onions on top. For ultra culinary panche, some restaurants crown the dish with half a hardboiled egg.
When I order, I always ask them to hold the onions. Green is not on my white palate that includes bread, sour cream, potatoes, cottage cheese, soda crackers and mayonnaise. See how thin I am?
On Friday and Saturday nights, one might think Wong’s is selling cocaine with a side of heroin. Cars dart in and out, folks dash inside, but it isn’t a crack house. Wong’s is the king of take-out orders. We pull in on weekends, buzz the bar where our friend Eddie hangs out, pay for yummies and hurry home to see how fast we can slam food into a bowl.
I’ll bet you half of a Social Security check that you don’t eat at your neighborhood Chinese joint. You drive across town to get the best grub. That’s the way it is with Chinese. It’s worth the drive to get just what you want.
We’ve driven hither and yon to try other Chinese restaurants. My friends alert me to potential pork noodle spots. They always feature booths with overhead hanging lanterns and ladies in the lounge wearing more rouge and red lipstick than Vargas girls.
We go out to eat in a group because my husband, Chuck, needs someone to share a family-style Chinese meal, with gross stuff like chow mein. Imagine his existence, living with a wife who eats just seven things. He loves Mexican, but few places cook me a proper plain hamburger to serve with his fajita.
Four of us were recently at a Blazin’ Onion. The handsome frat boy waiter enthusiastically approached our table to take our order, without a pencil and pad.
“You’re going to need paper,” I instructed, knowing I was about to special order as usual, holding this, siding that, and cooking everything charred. Friends invite us to barbecues, with the caveat that they will start grilling my burger the day before.
I’ll be driving to China Doll in Everett for my pork noodle fix after September. They do it right. I might even be at China Doll on holidays. Chinese places are where to be on Christmas Eve to avoid family drama and ham.
My crowd of friends knows there is always a big table for us in the back room at Wong’s on New Year’s Eve. You don’t need to make a reservation or wear a sequined tank top. Wong’s is welcoming seven days a week with hot tea and fortune cookies.
When I was a columnist at The Herald, I did a grilled cheese taste test, sampling orders with fries and chocolate shakes in four restaurants around Snohomish County. I proclaimed Denny’s served the primo trio.
Some folks seemed to appreciate my grub advice, except one couple in Granite Falls. When I wrote that a now-closed North Everett drive-in called Hilltop served the best bacon cheeseburger in town, the easterly pair drove straight over the trestle to gobble my favorite buns.
Boy, did I get a nasty voicemail. It was the worst burger they ever ate, they said in a rude tone.
How picky can you get?
Kristi O’Harran is a former longtime Herald writer, now retired, who graces us with one of her columns when the mood strikes.