Surf and turf: SmokeQueen and Le Shrimp Noodle Bar team up for a good cause

Smoked char siu prawn noodle soup.
Smoked char siu prawn noodle soup is a special collaboration between Le Shrimp Noodle Bar and SmokeQueen Barbecue benefiting World Central Kitchen.
(Ron De Angelis)

Two of Orange County’s favorite Asian American concepts are teaming up for a special collaboration dish for a good cause.

Chef Winnie Yee-Lakhani of the Garden Grove-based SmokeQueen and Le Shrimp Noodle Bar at South Coast Plaza will be serving a special smoked char siu prawn noodle soup with a portion of the proceeds benefiting World Central Kitchen.

“We’re delighted to support a fellow AAPI restaurateur and rising culinary star such as SmokeQueen,” said Desmond Boey, U.S. director of operations for Paradise Group, which owns and operates Le Shrimp and Paradise Dynasty upstairs. “We’re happy to support a worthy cause such as World Central Kitchen. This is what being a part of a community is all about.”


World Central Kitchen is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that provides meals to communities effected by natural disasters. Founded by chef José Andrés in 2010, the organization continues to work to create a new model for emergency food relief. Most recently, World Central Kitchen has assisted in providing more than 30,000 fresh meals to those affected by the Israel-Hamas war.

Yee-Lakhani began experimenting with smoking meats in her backyard during the pandemic as a hobby and tried her hand at making pork belly char siu. “My char siu is really personal to me because I am Chinese by ethnicity, but I was born in Malaysia and raised here,” she said.

Yee-Lakhani began her cottage food operation out of her Garden Grove home and sells barbecue platters each weekend at Smorgasburg Los Angeles. She also made a name for herself on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl. She now is hard at work building out a 70-year-old residential home in Garden Grove into a commercial brick-and-mortar restaurant set to open in the next few months.

SmokeQueen, Winnie Yee-Lakhani stands beside a bowl of pork belly char siu.
SmokeQueen, Winnie Yee-Lakhani, uses her own own special house blend of eight-spice Chinese powder for her smoked pork belly char siu.
(Ron De Angelis)

For now, get a taste of her smoked char siu in Le Shrimp Noodle Bar’s prawn noodle soup. The dish will debut at Smorgasburg L.A. on Nov. 5 and will then pop up on the Le Shrimp menu the weekend of Nov. 17, 18 and 19.

Char siu is a Cantonese-style Chinese barbecue pork named for the traditional cooking method used to make it. Roughly translated as “fork roasted,” the pork is usually skewered onto a long fork and roasted in an oven or over fire. Yee-Lakhani’s version is rubbed in a special house blend of eight-spice Chinese powder and then slow-smoked in a traditional Central Texas-style offset smoker.

“On our barbecue platter, we actually don’t grill the char siu like this, but here we glaze and grill the pork to accompany this dish, to give it a different texture,” said Yee-Lakhan. “It is a play also on traditional Japanese chashu ramen, where they have the Japanese-style chashu and those are usually braised or sou-vide and rolled up.”

The succulent slices of smoked pork belly char siu are served in Le Shrimp’s signature prawn noodle soup, known for its rich savory flavors and made from roasted prawns and chicken broth. The seafood-forward soup with the smokey, lacquered meat creates a satisfying, Asian-inspired surf and turf.

“It is not Asian and it is not American,” said Yee-Lakhan. “It is Asian American, which is what I am.”