Cheap Eats · Chinatown · Chinese · Restaurants

Ho Won – Lobster and Wine

It’s a small world. It turns out Bottlenick knows the daughter of the chef at Ho Won, aka the flash-fried squid magician. If you don’t recall my fake news blunder on Reddit, you can read it here.

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Bottlenick, L and I decided to visit for dinner when the Magician was working. Pro tip – you can bring your own wine for a small corkage fee. Bottlenick said he would bring a bottle of bubbly. For this post, let’s listen to Amy Winehouse – Fuck Me Pumps.

I asked my friend the Wine Wizard what sort of wine pairs best with fried squid. He recommended something that has great acidity like a Riesling or an Austrian white called Gruner Veltliner. I went to Highlander Liquor store to shop for something that fit that description. An employee recommended Weingut Robert Weil –  Klosterberg Klosterberg ($48).

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I thought I was quite clever to wrap a wet tea towel around my bottle and then to freeze it so that the icy cloth would keep the wine cold. However, when I arrived at the restaurant, my dripping brown bag alarmed the servers. Pro-tip – get a reusable cold bottle sleeve like Bottlenick.

Bottlenick popped open his bottle first. Got to say, I preferred his pick over mine. I thought the dryness of his sparkling wine worked better with the squid than my Riesling, which was a tad sweet and I thought for the price, wasn’t anything special.

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We ordered pea tips, lobster with fried noodles and salt and pepper squid. The first to arrive at our table were the pea tips. Bottlenick was expecting a more dainty dish – not the luscious, vibrant greens that we received. Pea tips taste like a hybrid mix of peas, spinach and gai lan (Chinese broccoli). I love the delicate crunch of the stems. I’m not sure how much the lobster or pea tips cost, because L didn’t take the receipt and couldn’t remember how much they cost. Pea tips normally average around $23 dollars a dish.

The fried squid ($13.99) arrived so blistering hot I could feel the heat steam in my mouth. The squid itself was toothsome and not chewy. The batter was stellar – thin, brittle and broke apart when you bit into it. I usually eat fried squid with plain white rice and hot chili sauce. However, I passed on ordering rice because I thought the noodles would be enough.

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I haven’t had lobster in a long time. Usually, I’ll wait till I visit my family back in Richmond. The lobster was cracked in such a way that made it easy to remove the sweet meat. The lobster dish with noodles is a must order at Ho Won. The noodles retained its crunch despite the white sauce, which tasted like Alfredo without the cheese.

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I prefer the ginger and green onion version as its more fragrant and flavourful. I told Office Dad I never tried the white sauce before and I thought all Cantonese style lobster and crabs were served with the green onion and ginger sauce. He said the white sauce is automatically given to non-Asian customers unless specified. Dammit L and Bottlenick – you got me the wrong sauce.

I remember as a kid, when we went to a Chinese restaurant for a banquet, lobster would be a messier affair. We would use slippery metal lobster crackers to get to the meat. There would be bowls of hot lemon water to wash our fingers afterwards.

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At the end of our meal, we received fortune cookies. Bottlenick viciously crushed his cookie and then left it on the table. I don’t think he likes fortune cookies.

At 7:00 pm on a Saturday night, Ho Won was packed. I noticed the majority of the clientele are Asian, which is a good sign that the food is good. The Magician does indeed have special powers. This visit was far superior to the lunches I’ve enjoyed in the past.  I’d love to return again, particularly when he is working. Hitting the Sauce gives the Magician two fat thumbs up.

Ho Won Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato