A red and yellow stir fry that's commonplace in China
“What do you recommend?” I asked my server at Rice Noodle King, a small casual restaurant that opened a couple of months ago in Kearny Mesa. Given that every one of the seventeen entrées on the menu features noodles, I was going to need some help deciding. Try the stewed pork rib stir fry maybe? Or the beef shank soup?
8046 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego
All the dishes break down to either stir fry or soup, and I knew he wouldn’t recommend the beef offal or spicy pork intestine dishes. I wasn’t surprised at all that his first pick was the slow cooked beef noodle soup; I was ready to order it. But he did surprise me with a second suggestion, because apparently, I’ve been missing out on tomato egg stir fry.
A new little Chinese noodle specialist off Convoy Street.
If you’d told me that morning I would be eating an egg, tomato, and noodle dish for lunch, I might have assumed it would be at an Italian restaurant. I don’t typically associate tomato with any Asian cuisine, but I should know better. Tomatoes grew native to South America, and for a couple centuries after the Spanish introduced them to that side of the Atlantic, most Europeans considered the nightshade fruit poisonous. The Chinese have probably been cooking with tomatoes just as long as the Italians, if not longer.
Eggs and tomato neatly match China's national colors, yellow and red. When its 2016 Olympic athletes were dressed in bright red and yellow outfits for the games’ opening ceremonies, Chinese press complained "It's fried eggs with tomato again.”
I take it the dish is not always served with noodles, but often features green onions and a little sesame oil. Such was the case with my Rice Noodle King lunch, which was served in a bowl, with the noodles sitting in a thin wash of soy sauce and sesame broth at the bottom, pieces of omelet, small tomato chunks, and scallions on top.
Having never tried the dish before, I’m unfamiliar with its peak outcome. To me, the eggs seemed a little overcooked, and the tomatoes a little watery, like cheap, conventionally grown tomatoes so often do. However, I did enjoy the dish as a whole. Tomato and sesame make an interesting combo.
But I had to ask about the noodles. They looked and ate like spaghetti noodles, to the point they had just the right bite of an al dente pasta, super satisfying. Suddenly, I’m the guy in Rice Noodle King saying, “Really? These are really rice noodles?”
That slowed-cooked beef may be worth a return visit to this, yes-it’s-rice Noodle King. As for tomato egg stir fry, I will definitely try this at home.