A few weeks ago, Hannah (my sister-in-law), told me she was coming to the city and wanted to eat shrimp wontons. Unfortunately, I was stumped. I didn’t know of one restaurant that had good wontons. So when in doubt, what do you do? You appeal to the twitterverse and hope someone comes through. In this case, twitter friend Kathryn Yu came to the rescue with the suggestion to go to Noodle Village. Supposedly, it’s the only place her aunt will go for wontons. The following week, I ate wontons every day at a different restaurant in Chinatown. After much “research,” it seemed Kathryn and her aunt were right. For wontons, only Noodle Village warrants repeat visits.
At Noodle Village, my usual (I’ve been going quite frequently since last month) is The Duet Noodle Soup ($5.75; pictured at top), noodle soup with a choice of two toppings. My choice of toppings is always shrimp wontons and fried fish skin, but the day I took photos, the manager recommended the housemade fish cake so I got that, shrimp wontons, and fried fish skin on the side. The fish cake was good, but nothing compared to the extraordinarily good wontons. The wonton skins are thin, and each wonton is filled with ground pork and, most importantly, one whole bouncy shrimp. I’m amazed each time I bite into a wonton. Seriously, if you can find better shrimp wontons, let me know.
As for noodles, I prefer ho fun over the classic thin egg noodles — although the wonton noodles at Noodle Village are solid; chewy, never gummy — but I notice when you order the ho fun instead of the egg noodles, the soup is a little bland. Noodle Village claims to not use any MSG, so in general the soup is always on the lighter side. I think the less salted ho fun throws off the balance. So if you like ho fun, be forewarned.
As I mentioned, I always go for shrimp wontons and fried fish skin in the Duet Noodle Soup. I highly recommend the Deep Fried Fish Skin, either in your noodle soup or on the side ($4.75 for a side order). (If you order fried fish skin on the side, they’ll also bring you a bowl of soup so you can dip the skin in the soup.) For those who’ve never had fried fish skin, it may sound odd, but it’s the fish version of chicharrón or fried pork rinds. Crunchy, dry to the touch, and salty with a mild fish taste; it’s completely scrumptious and completely snackable. Why fried fish skin never made the leap into the snack arena is beyond me.
Trust me, order the fried fish skin. Do it, you’ll thank me. If you don’t like them, more for me. I’ll be sitting at the next table with a bowl of wonton noodle soup waiting to scoop them off your plate.