Ever since the Chinese New Year, I made a Chinese New Year’s resolution to find some exceptional Chinese food. Pretty creative idea, I know. If I’m being completely honest, I have never been too impressed with my experiences in the past, and many of this town’s apparent favorites were a bit of a let down for me. After probing many friends, both Asian and non-Asian, about their stand-by establishments, I was pointed to Taiwan Café, an incredibly humble joint in a strip mall in Plano. As the suburbs north of Dallas seemed to be the most celebrated areas for Asian cuisine, I thought this was probably a decent option, and when I found out it was cash only, this was only an affirmation of its legitimacy.
Another location of Taiwan Café exists in Richardson, and at one point they shared the same owner, but since that time, the Richardson location was sold and ownership changed, the name, however, stayed the same. So, I can’t speak for this second location, but the grub at the Plano joint is better than any other I’ve had in Dallas.
Walking in, you are immediately confronted with a double isle of cafeteria-style traditional Taiwanese dishes from a long buffet-like set-up. I probably could only identify half of the items in the line-up, and the sprawling 20-ft menu board written primarily in Mandarin was not much help. But I steered away from the cafeteria trays in favor of ordering from the less-advertised, made-to-order items on a small folded paper menu on the counter. I am fairly sure I made the right move.
Every item I had was hot, fresh, crisp and delicious. Nothing was overly greasy, yet a necessary greasiness was found in places I expected. The sesame chicken came out slightly sweet, with a crisp exterior, and not an ounce of sogginess. The fried pork potstickers were brilliantly done, salty, porky, and a true stand-out when accompanied by their spicy chili-soy dipping sauce. The beef chow mein was a bit on the greasy side, but I expected this, and it only helped things slide down my grateful throat all the more easily. Don’t pass up the famed scallion pancake either, a delicious chewy, herbaceous concoction.
My search for exceptional Chinese food is far from over, but discovering Taiwan Café has helped fuel my passion for simple but elegant Asian cooking. It was a packed house on a Saturday night, so this place is obviously not a secret to the local community. The entire experience was reminiscent of my recent trip to Chinatown in New York City, and that’s no laughing matter.
2747 W 15th St