There’s a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in Oakland, CA called Thanh Ky that serves hands-down the best Chinese noodle soup in the city. You can tell its popularity by the large crowd of Vietnamese and Chinese locals waiting in line on a Saturday morning. It's noodles for breakfast and everyone knows this is the place to be.
Don’t expect much customer service here. Take a seat at one of the sticky tables, eat, pay with cash only and get the #$*@ out. When you visit Thanh Ky, you are not there for service. You’re there for cheap, authentic and incredibly flavorful Chinese-style pork and organ noodle soups.
Our favorite dish here is the house special noodle, Mi Trieu Chau. It’s egg noodles in a clear and flavorful pork broth. You can choose from a variety of toppings: blanched Choy Sum (similar to the well-known Bok Choy but with a longer stalk), wontons, squid, shrimp, ground pork, and thinly sliced pork organs like kidney, heart and liver. It’s garnished with a few bits of crispy pork fat (nom nom nom) and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and green onions. Condiments are readily available at the table for your mixing pleasure. I usually prepare a simple dipping sauce of chili oil, soy and vinegar. It goes great for dipping my wontons.
I love this place because they know how to prepare their organs. Organs such as pork kidney, heart and liver smell like barnyard if not cleaned properly. The best way to get rid of any foul organ smell is to rub the organs with flour. I find that whole wheat flour works nicely. The tiny granules of wheat flour abrasively scrub the organs and absorb the smell. The flour gets rinsed off before the organs get precooked in a separate pot of boiling water with vinegar, shallots and ginger. The additions of these aromatics further eliminate the smell and provide a more appetizing aroma.
Chinese-Style Pork & Organ Noodle Soup (Mi Nguoi Hoa)
- 1-1/2 lbs pork shank bones with marrow (blanch in rolling boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt for 10 seconds, remove, rinse and drain dry)
- 4 liters water
- 1 small dried squid (lightly rinse, pat dry and toast in oven at 400°F for 10 minutes)
- 1/4 cup dried salted shrimp (lightly rinse, pat dry and toast in oven at 400°F for 10 minutes)
- 2 tablespoons rock sugar (38 grams)
- 1 tablespoon MSG (replace with fish sauce if you don't eat MSG)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 pork kidney
- 1 pork heart
- 1/2 cup wheat flour
- 1 teaspooon salt
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 large shallot (slice thin)
- 1 large knob ginger (smash and slice thinly)
- BBQ pork (thit xa xiu)
- Shrimp and pork wontons (hoanh thanh)
- Fried pork fat (tep mo)
- Cooked squid
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 small onion (dice)
- 3 medium-size shallots (dice)
- 4 garlic cloves (roughly chop)
- 1 lb Choy Sum (cut into bite size pieces)
- 3 green onions (optional; slice thinly)
- 3 sprigs cilantro (optional; slice thinly)
- 2 lbs fresh egg noodles
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
Other Meat Options
- In a stock pot, add parboiled pork bones, 4 liters water, dried squid and dried shrimp. Bring pot to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook uncovered for 3 hours and occasionally skim off any impurities that float to the top with a spoon or fine mesh.
- Meanwhile, prepare the organ meat. Butterfly the kidney and remove the connecting white muscles at the center. Butterfly the pork heart and rinse out any remaining blood. Place kidney and heart in a bowl and vigrously rub with wheat flour. The flour will absorb any foul organ smell. Rinse organs thoroughly under cold running water then drain dry. Slice the pork kidney at an angel into thin slices and set aside. Leave heart unsliced for now.
- Cook organs. Bring a small pot to a boil. Add salt, vinegar and shallot. Add heart and cook for about 20 minutes or when pierced with a knife or chopstick.liquid runs clear. Transfer heart to an ice bath. Once cool enough to handle, slice thinly and store in clean water. To the same pot, add smashed ginger and bring it back to a boil. Add sliced pork kidney and cook for 2-3 minutes. Do not overcook as kidney will toughen. Remove sliced kidney from pot and place in ice bath. Also store pork kidney in water to prevent darkening.
- Prepare the aromatic oil. In a small frying pan, add vegetable oil and heat on medium-high. Add onion and shallots. Fry until lightly brown. Add garlic. Continue to fry until the garlic is golden brown. Set aside.
- Prepare the choy sum. In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Add a bit of the aromatic oil to the water. Add Choy Sum and blanch for 2 minutes or until bright green. Tranfer Choy Sum to an ice bath then drain dry.
- Cook the egg noodles. Unlike rice noodles, egg noodles can be cooked all at once. Since egg noodles tend to clump together, place all the egg noodles in a large mixing bowl and use your fingers to separate them into individual strands. Bring a large pot to a boil then add noodles. Boil for 4-5 minutes. Place a colander into the sink and drain noodles into the colander. Rinse with cold running water then drain dry. Toss evenly with seame oil to prevent sticking.
- Return to the pork stock pot and season with rock sugar, MSG (or fish sauce) and salt. It's best to add a little at a time to suit your liking.
- To serve, add a large handful of egg noodles to a individual serving bowl. Add organ meat, other desired meats, Choy Sum, a teaspooon of aromatic oil and fried pork fat (tep mo). Ladle in hot broth and garnish with green onions and cilantro.