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Jul 2, 2006 09:13 PM

[DFW] Zander's House, Plano

Zander's House has received quite a bit of attention in the short time it has been open. Teresa Gubbins was the first to write about it ;
people have commented about Zander's pho on Chowhound ;
the Dallas Morning News has reviewed it

I have to admit that, based on its being described as a New York import, I approached it with some trepidation. First, that's because I am not a big fan of the many branches of New York restaurants that have sprouted in Dallas. Second, it's because -- when it comes to Vietnamese food -- I probably would have been more impressed by an Orange County or Los Angeles "pedigree," because of the larger Vietnamese population in those areas. But I got over my hesitation ... funny how the promise of good food can overcome so many prejudices!

Besides, this is not a branch of a New York restaurant. It is owned by a family that had a restaurant in New York but moved to this area last year, after tiring of the New York area. The family members run the kitchen and the front of the house, and are delightful people who obviously love their business.

After having lunch at Zander's House a couple of weekends ago, we stopped in for dinner last night. The restaurant's lunch menu is full of typical Vietnamese standards -- spring rolls, soups, vermicelli dishes -- that have three things going for them: they are very well prepared; beautifully presented, and very reasonably priced.

The dishes we had at dinner last night all shared those attributes, but they were much more complex in preparation and flavor than the lunch dishes. They also were among the best Vietnamese dishes I have tried anywhere.

We began with Rocket Shrimp Rolls, which are large butterflied shrimp and diced vegetables wrapped in a rice paper crepe and deep fried. Compared to other "rocket shrimp" I've tried -- which have omitted the diced vegetables, and which often taste of the oil in which they are fried -- these were lighter, more like an egg roll, and had no oiliness at all. (My wife liked them so much that she got another order for "dessert."


For our main course, with our server's guidance, we ordered Spicy Red Snapper (a whole snapper deep fried and topped with a lightly spicy, sweet and sour, lime and chilli-infused sauce); Zander's BBQ Beef (crispy, thin-sliced pieces of beef -- sirloin, maybe? -- in a sweet soy sauce with a little kick of chillis, served, surprisingly to me, with buttered toast points), and Garlic Green Beans (dry-fried only until they began to lose their rawness). Our server also brought us a side dish of very small, pickled chillis, which she said she had grown herself in her garden in Queens last year.. They were extraordinary, and added a welcome heat and delicious complexity to the dishes.

Our server, who is the only daughter among the owner's seven children, suggested several dishes we might try on our next visit, including a grilled red snapper in rice paper which requires 40 minutes marinating and cooking time. ("Call us when you leave your house, and it will be ready when you're ready for your entree," she said.) One of her brothers also suggested that we ask about items not on the menu. ("If we put everything on the menu, it would confuse people," he said. "Plus we can make dishes from what's freshest that day." As an aside, be sure to ask the brother how his family ended up with seven children. He has a very funny story.)

Zander's House recently obtained a liquor license, and has ceased its BYOB policy. They have a selection of Asian beers but, as yet, none from Vietnam because the owners haven't identified a distributor that can supply them. I am looking forward to exploring their wine list, because I imagine that good wine pairings could enhance the flavors of the dishes even more than beer.

Our dinner -- two appetizers (one for dessert), two entrees (including the "market-priced" snapper), a vegetable and more beer than I should have had -- was $90 before tip. It was worth every penny of that, in my opinion.

Zander's House
2300 N Central Expressway
(East side frontage road, just north of Park -- we got off at 15th)
Plano, TX 75074
Phone: 972-943-9199

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  1. Thanks for the report, Kirk. Sounds like one I'll have to check out. Nice to know about the off-menu possibilities.


    1. Kirk, thanks for an excellent review. I work not far from this place and I'm going to make it a point to go over there for a bowl of phở.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Scagnetti

        The pho has gotten mixed reviews here. Ask your server about it before taking the plunge. And please report back on what you try.

      2. Kirk -

        Just did Zander's house last night, DELICIOUS!! We started out with the beef carpaccio. It had a real kick to it. Very tasty with a hint of lime. I did the bbq beef for my main course and my friend had the tamarind shrimp. The sauce was fantastic. It didn't look like a lot of food, but we were stuffed!

        They actually had a decent but small wine list. I just asked for a nice reisling becuase I couldn't decide from the 3 they had. All were germanic and more dry then sweet, which is how I like it.

        Thanks for reviewing this place. Great find!

        1 Reply
        1. re: simply_victoria

          Thanks, SV. Glad you enjoyed it.

          We went back a couple of weeks ago and found that they had gotten their alcohol license. Probably should have posted it here. That night, at our server's suggestion, we had the Santa Margherita pinot grigio and it was very good with our dishes. We were slightly stunned to learn that the bottle was $50 when the bill came, about three times retail for that wine ... not an unusual mark-up in the restaurant business but more than I was expecting.

          It was still a great dinner, even if it was more expensive than anticipated. All told, with tip, dinner for two was $180 that night.

        2. $50 for a bottle of santa margherita pinot grigio??? holy moley

          1 Reply
          1. re: teegee

            I know. I think I'll be teetotaling on my next visit.

          2. I've only been to Zander's for lunch, and thought it was nothing special. I was more impressed with the new Vietnamese/Asian restaurant on Walnut and Audelia, Bistro B. Give it a try but beware, the wait may be long and the service isn't very good. The restaurant was packed (20 minute wait) at 8PM on Sunday night.

            The best vietnamese food I've had in the metroplex was from Thanh Thanh in Arlington (Arkansas/360).