Monday, August 02, 2010

Mami King - Buena Park

There's a theory that every noodle dish in the world is descended from China. It may still be up for intense debate, but while I'm no food historian, I would tend to agree. If not all noodles, then at the very least just those with a striking resemblance to the Chinese idea of serving noodles in a soup.

Among many examples, the dish has been repatriated to become ramen in Japan, bakmi in Indonesia. As with every noodle soup in Asia, both have become an indelible part of those cuisines.

Same goes for the Philippines, which enjoy a similar dish called mami: the Chinese/Filipino version of noodle soup. And where you can get a bowl of mami, you can also get siopao: the Filipino take on the Chinese bao, steamed buns filled with meat.

In Orange County, the place noted for its mami is Mami King in Buena Park.

Take a look at that broth. Have you ever seen anything richer and more evocative of chocolate milk? If it were any creamier, I think it would actually have to be chocolate milk.

Those who are familiar with ramen would be mislead if they think this is a tonkotsu broth. It is not. The brownness comes from the slow-braised hunks of beef they put into it, which is not unlike the hulking tender chunks you'd find in niu rou mian, Chinese beef noodle soup. Here, the beef takes on a kind of sweetness that may be too cloying for some. It's so sweet it almost tastes like it's covered in caramel.

I shared a bowl and though I liked it, my tolerance was tested.

The broth, however, is poured on hot. And I mean tongue-scorching, napalm fire, scalding hot--exactly how I prefer it. It's so hot it even tends to overcook the thin and stringy egg noodle.

Below the soup hides what seems like an never-ending supply of that beef, and shredded white meat chicken and a few pork-stuffed wontons. You get your $6.50's worth in proteins with this dish.

Truth be told, I actually like the siopao ($1.99) more than the mami. The fluffy cotton-soft buns are thick, perhaps too thick. But its gentle, pillowy bite brings a sweetness that comforts as much a bosom to a baby. Whether you choose the bola bola, or the pork, or the chicken, you slather it with a dipping sauce that will kind of remind you of hoisin, but not really.

Take the bola bola over the others, even if it's more expensive by 50 cents. Why? The thing harbors salted duck egg, pieces of Chinese sausage and more pork. Chinese influence or not, what's not up for the debate is that the combo is delicious.

Mami King Restaurant
(714) 521-0108
6901 La Palma Ave
Buena Park, CA 90620

TusCa - Garden Grove

*Special Thanks to Monster Munching location scout Cecile for the tip.


At 7:12 PM, Blogger Dennis K. said...

Dude, both the siopa and mami looks so delicious. I'll have to try some next time I'm up there...

At 9:51 PM, Blogger digkv said...

great review as always edwin. I was wondering if there was any difference between siopa and the banh bao you can get at most vietnamese banh mi places. Also how big is that thing? it looks incredibly massive from that picture.

At 8:32 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Definitely worth a stop if you're within blocks. But I must reiterate: this isn't something you'd want to go out your way for. Din Tai Fung this ain't!


Actually the main difference is that sauce. And the meat filling is sweeter, less peppery. It's somewhere between char siu bao and pulled pork.

And these siopaos are indeed very very large, easily eclipsing a whopper by a few centimeters. I like 'em much much better than burgers, that's for sure!

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

I love scalding hot broth, you know, but I don't think I'd enjoy the sweetness. Thanks for the cuisine lesson though. :)

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Madison said...

Reading this post reminded me of Family Pastry in Chinatown (LA) and as delicious as these siopa look, I am deeply in love with the chicken bao from Family Pastry. Have you reviewed that place already? Ridiculously inexpensive and delicious dim sum ever! The place is not very pretty to look at but they are so awesome. Lucky I don't live closer to there or I'd be more of a piggy than I already am. @_@

At 6:01 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Both look and sound fantastic! Haven't tried either before. I agree about the hot broths- most restaurant's noodle soups tend to get overcooked noodles after some point since the soup is just so hot!

At 8:56 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


What I missed on this trip was they have bottles of lemon juice on the table that you can drip into the soup. That's the tip a friend of mine just gave me to cut through the sweetness. I'm curious enough on how the juice changes the soup that I just might stop by again!


I haven't heard of or tried Family Pastry, but it sounds like the kind of place I wish there was more of here in OC. I might have to take the Metrolink there to check it out!


I'll take a hot broth any day! Even if it continues to overcook the noodles!


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