The Noble Chef
The Noble Chef, hidden away in a strip mall on Balboa Avenue does a couple of items well. None of them even closely resembles the orange chicken and beef broccoli you’ll see on the “fast food” menu. Avoid the chicken, beef, and noodle soup and go with either the shrimp fried rice or shrimp chow fun with XO Sauce, that pungent but tasty concoction based on dried seafood, garlic, and chilies. When the chef is on, you’ll even get a bit of wok hei, the wonderful flavor a well-seasoned wok will impart to food when used skillfully over high heat. XO sauce is pretty pungent, so it’s better to eat it during the lunch hour. The tangy shrimp tomato sauce rice is also a favorite, an almost radioactive red in color from ketchup — yes, ketchup, which, by the way, the Chinese claim was created in the city of Xiamen. Either way, it wakes up your taste buds.