That Hometown Taste: Finding comfort in wonton soup

Wonton soup from Ocean Restaurant. (Courtesy photo)

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When my family members are not feeling well, my “go-to” move is to cook up a pot of garlic ginger chicken noodle soup. The old wives’ tale has labeled chicken noodle soup as the immunity-boosting cure-all, and recipes have been passed from generation to generation to fight off ailments.

However, when I’m the one who isn’t feeling well, cooking anything is the last thing I want to do.

On Sunday, I came home after a week-long extended stay at the Vacaville Kaiser hospital. What started off as abdominal pain following ingesting triggering foods turned into chronic pain. Two Emergency Room visits later, it turned into the removal of a lone stone leftover from my 2017 gallbladder removal.

While there I embarked on a foodie nightmare of not being able to ingest anything then only being able to have clear liquids and hospital gelatin. After the stone was removed, I was able to begin eating solids again — what I was able to eat (nothing spicy or heavy) was not something I’d go out of my way to write a review on.

Before coming home, my doctor instructed me to take it easy, eat an anti-inflammatory diet, and to stay hydrated. With the latter being my one strong suit, I came home wanting one thing — wonton soup from Ocean Restaurant.

Growing up, we had homemade wonton soup for dinner. I remember helping to fold the meat into the wonton wrappers, and watching them sink into the bubbling broth. It has since been one of my favorites.

The lineup of soups on Ocean’s menu is plentiful. In a heartbeat, I naturally gravitate towards Hot & Sour, Sizzling Rice, or even the Wor Wonton soups. Knowing I should take the transition to food easy, I opted for the original wonton soup.

Ocean’s wonton soup happened to be the last meal I was successful in eating before going back to the emergency room. It seemed an easy transition coming back into the real world. Ordering out also meant that I didn’t have to cook it or clean up afterwards. Take it easy, indeed.

The flavors of wonton soup are warm, comforting, and yet gentle on the digestive tract. The broth is simple and brought to life with a drizzle of sesame oil and, usually, white pepper. The delicate wonton pouches are not too heavy on the stomach, and the ginger is light and helps with nausea. At least, it has in my experience.

I decided to get a little bold and I also ordered vegetable chow mein and sesame chicken.

Before going into the emergency room, my family had enjoyed chow mein noodles from Ocean. I reluctantly had passed, due to the pain I knew they would cause. I may have been a little jaded still, because I ordered mine with all vegetables. Strands of carrots, bamboo and cabbage mixed in with the light flavor of the thick strands of noodles is my idea of what I could eat all day, every day.

The sesame chicken was probably a little too bold of an order, but I have yet to regret it. I chose it because the sauce is on the sweeter side. Plus, it is served with some broccoli which is one of my favorite vegetables.

I’m a bit of a risk taker, and I figured that if my stomach was not ready for it, the rest of my family would happily eat the rest of it for me. So far, so good. The only thing missing is the hot chili oil concoction that is usually served alongside every meal. But I’m fairly certain that option is on my “Do Not Eat” list for a while.

Spice, spicy, acidic and nacho cheese are currently not my friends. My foodie adventures will indeed have to be thoughtfully selected going forward. I already miss the tacos.

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