Mr. Ho Wonton House
Many, many years ago, before discovering some great Asian cuisine, my favorite Chinese restaurant in Burnaby was Mr. Ho Wonton House. My favorite dish at Mr. Ho back then was Combo A…S&S pork, chicken chow mein and beef chop suey with an egg roll. It was your typical Canadianized Chinese fare. Having a hankering for that, I decided to give Mr. Ho a shot.
Since my last visit all those years ago, Mr. Ho has become a darling of the media polls. It has won the local newspaper polls’ “Best Chinese Food in Burnaby” award an amazing six years in a row! That’s quite an accomplishment.
Actually, it isn’t. It’s not even close. Burnaby isn’t exactly a Mecca for Chinese food…but it’s getting there. The variety and quality are evident in every corner of the city…from Wen Xin to New Age to Garlic & Chile…to name but three. The award for “Best” is obviously based on demographics…unfortunate caucasian demographics.
Seeing as how my old favorite combo plate is now at $12, I went cheap and got the Wor Wonton. Actually, it’s not that I’m cheap…it’s just that I had a sense of imminent disappointment. I simply didn’t want the expensive disappointment.
At first glance, the Wor Wonton looked quite good. Nicely presented, all the elements in place. I was actually quite surprised how good it looked. But, after a few bites, an overwhelming sense of blandness set in. Every single aspect of this bowl lacked what one expects in a quality Asian soup. From a basic chicken stock to under-seasoned wontons to flavourless, lean meats. The under-cooked broccoli and strange-tasting baby corn didn’t help matters much. Worse yet was the tangle of extremely chewy vermicelli noodles. In hopes of jacking it up some, I added a liberal dose of chile oil. Probably from a long-term lack of use, the chile oil had gone a little off. Now I’ve got a bowl of bad soup with a heap of funky oil. I jettisoned about halfway through.
I could go on, but that’s enough negativity. On to the Eggroll!
I could eat a bunch of these! Hot, crunchy and loaded with flavour…especially with the MSG-laden plum sauce. Not quite sure what to make of the fork and doily though. A touch odd.
Mr. Ho Wonton House is basic Canadian-Chinese. To borrow a phrase, “It is what it is”….a very popular restaurant amongst folk who prefer a simple approach to Asian cuisine. It’s very clean and efficiently run with friendly servers. Unfortunately, after all these years, Mr. Ho is still the McDonald’s of Chinese fare.