Won Kee's, little sister of Mon Kee's, the Chinese restaurant that became a household word among aficionados of the new Chinese cooking found in Los Angeles today, has a surprise or two of its own.
But one suggestion. Leave the menu to the competent manager, George Wat, who is quite good about recommending things tailored to your own taste.
Some of the recommended dishes will not be on the menu, but don't worry. No Chinese menu can encompass the entire repertoire of a fine Chinese chef.
George once recommended the following items, which were shared by four people. We started with a soup made with oversize clams, which were cooked on a small stove at the table. The soup is sipped after eating the clams.
Pan-fried shrimp actually is shrimp in which half the amount is pan-fried and the other portion is deep-fried with tomato sauce--it is excellent. This dish is on the menu as pan-fried shrimp with couple sauce, indicating the different cooking methods.
Another dish, not on the menu, but one that is considered superior by George, is called e - fu noodles, a soft noodle served with Chinese mushrooms in oyster sauce.
If you like barbecued foods, try the combination duck with jellyfish. If jellyfish is not for you, try the barbecued pork or plain duck.
Another suggestion from George was green onion chicken prepared on a sizzling platter, which, George says, is popular with his American customers.
You will undoubtedly have other things suggested to you, but barring those, you can find familiar dishes on the menu that will keep you busy, too.
If you like shark fin you can go wild with a shredded chicken and shark fin soup that costs $24 per plate. Shark fin is a rare commodity with a retail value of $22 per pound, hence the high cost.
Abalone, imported from Australia and Mexico, is available year-round at Won Kee's for the abalone fan. It comes with oyster sauce, vegetables, sea cucumber and mushrooms at a fairly reasonable price ($9.95).
Same with lobster dishes, but they are priced according to season. There is lobster with ginger and green onion and lobster with black bean sauce.
Oyster dishes are plentiful, and you'll find those on the menu in many guises at around $6. Familiar beef and pork dishes, such as beef or pork with orange, lemon, ginger and pineapple, satay style, and with black beans are available at reasonable prices, too.
The restaurant also has a takeout service using the same menu should you wish to supplement a family or company menu with an exotic dish or two. A good idea for entertaining.
Won Kee's Seafood and Deli Restaurant, 724 N. Hill St., Store No. 131 , Los Angeles. Open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Validated basement parking. Reservations accepted. Major credit cards accepted. Entrees from $3.75 to $24.