Photo: Kevin Hunter Marple

Neighborhood Find: Ivy’s China Cafe

Ivy’s China Cafe. Though not quite a chef-driven place, Ivy’s China Cafe makes a more personal statement than the usual neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Ivy Fong, who also owns Mac Wok in Irving, greets customers at the door and injects a homey, wholesome touch to her food.

With more than 125 items espousing a variety of Asian cuisines, the menu is tough to peg: Mandarin Chinese, curries, Korean noodle soup, and even good old American chicken nuggets and “tangy” buffalo wings. Though there’s no shortage of pork, beef, or chicken, the menu seems especially vegetarian-friendly. Appetizers include a veg version of dumplings as well as steamed Chinese spinach buns, a dim sum staple. Ivy’s were snow-white orbs filled with chopped spinach and onion. But texture matters most with Chinese buns, and these were moist, dense, and chewy.

Spinach, tomato, and tofu soup was as minimalist as a Jil Sander suit: vegetable broth with slick rectangles of tofu, still-firm wedges of tomato, and brilliant green spinach leaves, floating like lily pads in a pond. If you crave meat and grease, you’ll feel cheated by this austere stew, but what a tonic for those seeking pristine simplicity.

One common nightly special combined shrimp with snow pea shoots, which were tender, mildly tangy greens. At Ivy’s, they were given a happy dose of garlic, but unless you like your shellfish very soft, request that the shrimp be “well done.”

Other specials included a honey-coated walnut shrimp that cleverly pitted sweet against salty, and a chicken with black bean sauce with fork-tender chicken sliced extra thin.

Ivy’s draws a lunch crowd from nearby employers such as J.C. Penney and EDS. At dinner, locals linger with friends and kids in the impersonal but clean dining room,  a space that was formerly Rice Fantasy. The action here at Parker and Coit is brisk, with at least one or two other Asian restaurants nearby. But only Ivy’s has Ivy. 3309 Coit Rd., Ste. 100, Plano. 972-596-6955. $. BYOB. —T.G.

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