When it comes to W, I get to celebrate two of my favorite foods in San Rafael: the Wah Wonton Soup at , 1238 Fourth St. in downtown San Rafael and the Sweetheart Wings at, 857 Fourth St.
Both are amazing for depth of flavor, nourishment, comfort and just plain satisfaction.
If I’m ill, tired, the weather’s cold or I crave the edible equivalent of a hug, I turn to Yet Wah's Wah Wonton Soup ($9.95), enough to feed four people. It’s rich in pork-stuffed wontons made with the thinnest of pasta wrappers, plus there's roast pork, whole shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, shrimp and chunks of dark meat chicken. The broth is delicately golden with chicken essence. Take it home, which is how I like it best, and eat it over two or three days. You'll find that the wontons get increasingly soft and tender; they become the ultimate in noodly comfort food with a heart of protein.
By contrast, the sticky-sauced deep-fried chicken wings known as Sweetheart Wings (as interpreted by owners Maly and Bongkot Ouneklap of Bangkok Thai Express), are zippy, energizing and one of my favorite snacks in Marin County. Many Thai restaurants serve a version of this, but the Ouneklaps’ is the best.
Lightly battered wings ($6.96 for six pieces) are quickly deep fried to be ultra-crispy while the chicken stays juicy, then heavily coated in a sweet/savory jam that hints of tamarind, lime, garlic and chili among other flavors. The sauce has a texture and flavor so satisfyingly complex, it cries out for the balance of classic steamed Thai-style Jasmine rice. When served at the restaurant, these wings are typically topped with pan-fried basil leaves that are still bright green but as crackly as the crust on crème brulee. Ask for extra basil for another layer of aromatic treat.
Say, dear readers, we’re up to X in my alphabet of San Rafael’s eating pleasures, and I need your help: any suggestions for what to list as a headline for X? Xtra special? Xplosion of flavor? In the past I’ve been able to find chocolatiers or bakeries who produced X-rated cakes or sweets to order, but at this time there isn’t a San Rafael business offering this kind of food to my knowledge. Thanks in advance for your input.
Yet Wah, 1238 Fourth St., 460-9883, www.yetwahsanrafael.com, soup available for lunch and dinner daily or to go.
Bangkok Thai Express, 857 Fourth St., 453-3350, www.bangkokthaiexpress.com, wings available for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday; closed Sunday.