PARSIPPANY — Always on the lookout for a new and interesting Parsippany dining adventure I found myself at the Noodle Wong Dim Sum Seafood Restaurant, located in the Arlington Plaza among a row of storefronts on the East side of the Plaza, a couple of doors away from Home Depot. I have never really sat down to a full Dim Sum and my research indicated that Noodle Wong was as authentic and traditional as they come. We stopped in shortly afternoon on a weekend. Not normally my style to eat so heavy this early in the day but traditional Dim Sum is served as a brunch type meal, late morning to lunchtime, served with ceremonial tea, which is considered just as important as the food and is normally done as a communal or social gathering of friends and/or family while sharing a diverse assortment of small dishes of Cantonese bite-sized foods over a long period of time. Dim sum dishes include an assortment of seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes that are prepared in various ways: steamed, fried, or baked. Noodle Wong offers 54 different Dim Sum dishes to choose from. True to tradition, Noodle Wong only serves Dim Sum from early morning up to 3 pm. Of course, in addition to Dim Sum, Noodle Wong has an extensive menu you can order from, including your classic soups, seafood, Congee, Fried Rice, Chow Mein, Pork, Chicken, Beef, Family Meals and House Specials. But, for this review, my focus was on the Dim Sum so the rest of the menu will have until another day.
Now, if Dim Sum sounds familiar, you would be right, it is the Chinese version of Spanish Tapas. Only, and I apologize to my Spanish friends, Dim Sum has been around a lot longer. In fact, Dim Sum has a rich history and tradition that dates back thousands of years. Originating in southern China, specifically Guangzhou, Dim Sum, literally translates to ‘touch the heart’, and according to the myth that it was created by chefs of the Royal Court many centuries ago, to ‘touch the heart’ of Chinese emperors. You might also hear Dim Sum referred to by someone from China as “Yum Cha” which means “Drink Tea” and this dining is extremely popular in Hong Kong.
Noodle Wong, formerly Noodle Chu, changed ownership in 2016, renovating the dining area at that time, providing an updated and more stylish appearance. The ambiance and décor are simple but cozy, casual, comfortable, clean, and airy. The open and spacious main dining area is complete with attractive lighting overhead and simple wall décor, creating an Asian vibe throughout. Noodle Wong, to me, is reminiscent of one of those Chinese eateries you will find on Mott Street in NYC. The main dining area has plenty of seating available and all the tables are comfortably spaced. Noodle Wong also has another large, nicely decorated party room, complete with gold fabric seat coverings and white linen tablecloths, adjacent to the main dining room, with a smaller private room in the rear, either of which would provide a nice venue for a party or event.
As we arrived, we were greeted by a very friendly Manager, Simon, who immediately offered me a nice-sized table along the wall. A waiter promptly arrived with a pot of black tea, cups, and chopsticks. We thanked him as we looked over the extensive list of Dim Sum choices. The Dim Sum checklist is in both Chinese and English, so it is easy to understand. TIP: I visited the restaurant and picked up the Dim Sum menu the day before and familiarized myself with some of the dishes. I was then able to check off the dishes I wanted prior to my arrival, and when I handed that list to the waiter those dishes quickly arrived at our table. This seems to be a full Chinese wait staff so communication may be a slight issue, but since you order Dim Sum by pointing at the items of your choice while metal serving carts continuously work the room it works out fine. The rolling food carts, loaded with dumplings and plates of fried foods, also adds to the authenticity of this experience, but take note, they are only utilized on weekends. As you receive an item from the cart your bill is stamped, and you pay for the items you choose at the end of the meal. As for me and my guest, we ordered 10 different Dim Sum dishes and it turned out to be more than adequate for both of us. Of course, order as much as you like, but I would recommend that you try not to get carried away and over-order.
The restaurant was fairly filled, and most customers were Chinese, which is a Chinese restaurant is always a good sign to me. The Chinese menu, the unique style of service, the never-ending tea, all added to the experience. The dining room was buzzing, filled with people casually sharing food, enjoying themselves, and having lively conversations in a Chinese dialect (not sure which one) was fun to see. TIP: When you run out of tea just open the lid and put it aside. The waiter will quickly bring you a refill. When you want to say thank you, tap your index finger and your middle finger together on the table twice. That represents a bow.
Our selections included Siu Mai (Pork with Shrimp Dumpling), Baby Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce, Beef Noodle, Spring Roll, Beef Short Ribs, Sticky Rice Siu Mai, Turnip Cake, Steamed Pork Bun, and Steamed Custard Bun (Sweet).
Despite several trips to Hong Kong in my much younger days, I, unfortunately, am a novice at this style of dining, so it was difficult to choose from all the available selections, so I stuck with some of the most popular types of Dim Sum staples, which included steamed dumplings, buns, wraps, and noodle rolls; many filled with mixtures of fresh seafood, meat, and vegetables, as well as puffs, tarts, and puddings. They ended up being excellent choices as we totally enjoyed every dish that arrived from the Siu Mai (thin round cup-shaped wrappers filled with shrimp and pork), Har Gow (shrimp dumplings encased in a translucent wrapper), Xiaolong Bao (delicate soup dumplings), Charsiu Bao (pork buns), Cheong Fun (noodle rolls), or the Dan Tat (egg tart), a delicious, sweet, rich, custard-filled flaky pastry (very similar to a Portuguese custard pastry) that we ended our meal with. The Dim Sum was full of various textures and tastes and encompassed a collection of sweet, smooth, silky, and savory tastes depending on the individual dish. There is no rhyme or reason as to how to eat or mix your Dim Sum, just pick up your chopsticks and enjoy the experience.
So, if you are looking for a different, fun-filled, dining experience you can share with friends, family, or even alone for a satisfying brunch, this would be a good choice. Very friendly, helpful, and attentive staff in a casual and vibrant atmosphere, with moderate prices (depending on what and how much you order), along with a wide selection of great food. Like I always say, if you do not have the inclination or opportunity to travel to a foreign land, visiting some of Parsippany’s many diverse ethnic restaurants provides us with a great opportunity to truly experience a different culture through its cuisine.
“The Chinese say it’s better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one.”
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Dine In – Take Out – Curbside Pickup – No Delivery; Open 7 Days a Week – No Liquor – Ample Parking. Comfort Food – Quick Bite – Vegetarian Options – Small Plates.