Best of Dallas-- Ethnic
I'm a-comin’ to the big city this week (ok, full disclosure, I'm from here and have lived in much larger cities but now I live in a mid-sized and now feel like I'm coming in from the country or something), and looking for great ethnic cuisine.
I noticed a few posts on Afghan Grill, and plan to make it a priority unless advised otherwise, but also looking for great bahn mi, Pakistani, Thai and maybe even Russian. I'm especially interested in niche specialties and/or unique places from under represented countries. I am totally open so let me know where to go!
Thank you for your help.
17370 Preston Rd Ste 490, Dallas, TX 75252
Great questions- I'm going to be there from this Saturday to next Friday, and fairly open to geography but I will be staying near the intersection of Josey and Hebron near Carrollton.
I'd love some good banh mi but I'm totally open if there is something that you think I should try. Thank you!
I know LewisvilleHounder will give you a huge list, so I'll keep mine short.
For Banh Mi, there are several good places, but the best is a matter of opinion.
We like Ba Le's best, but many people like La Me's.
In any case, Garland is the place for Vietnamese.
Our favorite Vietnamese restaurants are Nam Hua, Huong Ly (Richardson) and Saigon Block (Richardson). And people love La Me (their Bun Cha Hanoi is the best in town.) Each place has its own specialties so it depends on what you are looking for.
For Pakistani, BBQ Tonite (Carrollton).
There are also a couple of good Ethiopian restaurants in town.
Great recs. Nam Hua and Saigon Block both have many good dishes, but as said, it depends on what you're looking for. Can't say enough about the banh xeo and the crab rangoon at Nam Hua, and I believe Saigon Block is known for their hot pots?
Pho 2006 and Pasteur are good places in Carrollton for pho, but since you are willing to drive, go to Pho Bang or Doan, both are in Garland and have outstanding broth unlike others around town.
The two both have broth with minimal amounts of grease and do a good job of balancing flavors, but they have some significant differences too. To get to the point, it depends if you want a cleaner taste or something rich. Pho Bang's broth is one of the lightest I have ever had and it isn't very complex, while Doan's is a lighter, and significantly less greasy take on the darker, richer, "multi layered" broth.
Considering they are literally across the street from each other, in order to narrow down which one I prefer the most, I should do a side by side comparison of the two one of these days. Both are on Walnut/Jupiter, Doan is on the SW corner, just a couple doors down from Ba Le and they have a big red sign, while Pho Bang is on the NW corner.
Unless another one has opened up in the past year, I believe The Russian Banya is the only Russian restaurant in Dallas:
I would agree with both Kuidaore and air. Pho Bang is better than any place in Carrollton for Pho. I would note that Bon Mua and there is a great place a few doors down from Bon Mua, both are great. I would recommend these now over Pho Pastuer and Pho 2006.
The Mi Quang (originating from Quang Nam and Da Nang) is a great mixture of shrimp and pork (no mystery bits) with fresh egg noodles, bean sprouts, etc. It comes with a rice cracker and a side of dipping/salty sauce. I know it is part of the dish but instead of making a soup you can dip your noodles into it or take a bit on a soup spoon with each bite. Both Bon Mua and the other place will have this dish. I have provided a bit of info from Wiki on the dish.
At Bon Mua I also enjoyed the Banh Bot (a sticky tapioca appetizer). Interesting texture but the flavor was very good. My wife and I liked the pork ones the best.
That should serve you well for Carrollton though. I will be working on Chinese and Vietnamese in Richardson/Garland tonight
I tried Pho at Doan yesterday and it was definately tasty and the broth was excellent. Also, I tried the grilled pork rolls which I like for a change from the usual spring rolls with boiled poprk and shrimp. I usually eat at Pho Bac several time a week. How would you Pho experts say it compares? I did like Doan as the menu was a little more broad. Also, has anyone tried the crepes with shrimp there?
I would definitely try the Carrollton branch of First Chinese BBQ. Although I personally think the Richardson location is a bit better, Carrollton will do just fine. It's the best ethnic Cantonese Chinese in the area. If you're not Asian, you'll probably be the only non-Asian in the place. Now, that's ethnic!
I don't typically order dishes like rad na/lad na, or pad see ew since I prefer curries or other spicy dishes - but I have heard that there are Lao variations of rad na that are spicier. You can't go wrong ordering flat noodle dishes at Thai Soon or Thai Garden in Richardson, or Jasmine Thai in Plano.
I love Pad See Ew. Yummyprice, where can I find a not-so-sweet version of it? Many dishes at Thai restaurants here (and elsewhere in this country) are way too sweet. (I love Thai food in Thailand!)
The owner of Thai Garden said many restaurants here add sugar to Pad Thai and other dishes to cater to American tastes. Sounded like at least she doesn't add sugar. Thai Soon's dishes are so sweet that I can't eat them.
I think it was Robb Walsh who said that good Thai food requires a balance between sweet, sour, salty and hot/spicy. On the subject of sugaring up pad thai, have you run into any restaurants in DFW that use tamarind paste? It wouldn't surprise me if Thai Garden or Jasmine Thai do it.
Just asking since this is how V (in Houston) makes her pad thai. The tamarind provides a deeper and more complex flavor than the lime juice/sugar combo.
You know, the owner of Thai Garden said she uses something, but I can't remember. It might be tamarind paste. We don't go there because they don't serve pork... Jasmine Thai's Americanized Thai dishes are as bad as at other restaurants (and their newest location on Coit serves the sweetest dishes). Without their Thai-language menu (or if LewsvilleHounder didn't insist that we tried it), I wouldn't have gone back.
I just read Yummyrice's post on Thai and SE Asian food. Very interesting. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/645687
If it is an authentic preparation they wouldn't put any cane sugar in the dish at all, but I would imagine some people like it sugary. They would use palm sugar, fish sauce for the salty component, and lime juice/tamarind paste for the sour component. I have made several dishes at home using the pastes available at the Vietnamese stores with great success. Those cans of paste cost around $.75-$.80.
Hmmm well Thai cuisine tends to mix sweet and savory. If most Thai restaurants serve sweet foods, then that should be a sign that Thais enjoy their foods sweet. In Thailand, northern/northeastern regions of Thailand are typically considered separate cuisines apart from Thai cuisine since many ethnic Laotians live there. So the foods in those regions tend not to be both sweet and savory.
I've already mentioned this before, but if you prefer sweet then eat Thai food...if you prefer salty, then eat Lao food. Since you're asking me where you can get Chinese dishes like Pad See Ew that's not too sweet, then you can either go to Lao restaurants and order those same Chinese dishes or go to a Thai restaurant and politely ask the waiter to make them Lao-style versus Thai-style. Though there are Chinese populations in both Laos and Thailand, Chinese-Laotians have acquired the Lao affinity for salty, whereas Chinese-Thais have acquired the Thai affinity for sweet. Try both Lao and Thai styles and choose whichever one that suits your palate.
>>To add, a Laotian friend mentioned that Thai-Riffic on Webb Chapel/Forest Ln is owned by Laotians. She also told me the owners said they add a Lao flair to some of their Thai dishes.
I'm not surprised by that since some Thai restaurants that seem "different" from the many typical sugar-loving Thai restaurants are actually owned by Laotians and they tend to serve some dishes in the Lao-style (i.e. spicier, but less sweet, less creamy). Lao people dislike sweet foods with the exception of desserts. We never ever mix sweet with savory. However, Thai people have their own preferences. Even dishes that are of Lao origins, many Thai restaurants have modified the original Lao recipes and typically serve sweeter versions of those Lao dishes.
Some Thais don't like going to Laotian-owned Thai restaurants because they prefer the authentic sweetness of their Thai cuisine. So to each his/her own. Everyone prefers their cuisine to be authentic. That's quite understandable. When eating Lao cuisine, I prefer going to Lao restaurants because I like my foods spicy and not so sweet. Thai restaurants tend to make Lao dishes too sweet IMO.
Again, if you prefer salty over sweet, then go to a Lao restaurant, but if you prefer sweet over salty, then go to a Thai restaurant.
Actually the only devoted Laotian restaurant I have found is Nahlinh Market on Irving Blvd & Irving Heights in Irving. They do have a small restaurant in the rear of it but it is when they want to cook as it is just a 1-2 person shop, so the hours might be spotty. The dishes though can be extremely spicy (even with my tolerance). I only have tried one dish the Lahb there.
"Lahb" as in Laab/Larb/Larp/Laap? =) There's so many ways to transliterate the name of that Lao meat dish.
Anyway, I'm happy to hear that there are some Laotian restaurants out there that still keep the heat very authentic. I've read many comments from people who mentioned that they thought Laotian dishes weren't spicy only because they didn't realize that they were being served "safe" versions of those Lao dishes. Safe as in the waiter noticed that the customer wasn't Laotian, so he/she would instruct the chef not to make the dishes too spicy. However, since I'm Laotian and know how to speak Lao, I'm always served authentically spicy dishes without fail. That's usually why my non-Laotian friends prefer to have me with them when ordering at a Laotian restaurant since the waiters know not to cut back on the chiili peppers since I'm also Laotian.
LewisvilleHounder's favorite Thai restaurant is Jasimine Thai in Plano, but he orders from the Thai menu. You'll get non-Americanized Thai dishes.
The prawns were good, but I think what everyone liked most was the salad if I remember correctly. Everything was Thai hot!
That is correct Jasmine Thai is my favorite. I would highly recommend the Crispy Water Spinach Salad, the Grilled or Fried Prawns (about 13 the size of small lobsters), or the Catfish Soup with Turmeric and Fermented Bamboo Shoots (or you can get non-fermented Coconut Shoots).
Jungle curry is probably my favorite. Bataba (a bread dish) is worth a try. Thai Herbal Chicken, Po Tak (a soup), Som Tum (Green Papaya) Salad when in season, and I actually like the Green Curry for its herbal notes, any the steamed whole snapper (can get it fried) anyway you want it...I like mine with basil, extra ginger and thai chilies. All are great dishes
Pad See Eew or the Kuay Teow Tom Yum are both good noodle dishes. I am not that into noodles at a Thai place but those would be good suggestions. If you are still hungry after dinner definitely try out the Black Rice Pudding. My wife and I love it at Jasmine.
I went a couple weeks ago on a frigid night and ordered the whole fried fish (sea bass that night). I'm not a cooked fish person but this is my favorite thing on the menu. Unfortunately, the fish tasted ... chemical. I normally never send stuff back but there was no hope of it heading anywhere but the trash can. They said it had been delivered that day but we sent it back and the chef agreed it was off.
Happily, they took it off our check and we got a half order of garlic prawn (still a huge portion) and fried quail in addition to our fried rice, appetizers, and tea. The garlic prawn was terrific but be warned, it's not named garlic prawn for nothing. There have been a few misses or off nights but I really enjoy (the original) Jasmine Thai over the years.
Amok thanks for that recount of your meal. It is good that they took it off and good to know they are not perfectand do have some flaws. Believe it or not the staff really does take time to memorize who comes in there on a regular basis.
My wife and I went about two weeks ago now and ordered Yum Nuea salad and the Southern Yellow Curry Soup (Keang Lang Tay (waitress translation or Geang Leung (from the Best of Regional Thai by Chat Mingkwan) on the Thai menu. The soup is supposed to be spicy and have the essence of fresh tumeric, ours was toned down on this night. Jasmine is the only place I know that has this dish. Just as we were finishing our meal there was a party of 20 Indians along one wall and a party of 8 at the front windows. You could say it was a bit packed that night.
With advance warning though I am sure the chef at Andaman (he is from the South but not muslim) and perhaps the chef at Siam both in Denton could prepare that dish.
Ok here is what I have so far on Mexican:
Mexican (not Tex Mex)
Taqueria El Fuego
1891 N Plano Rd
Richardson, TX 75081
Go for the Saturday brunch buffet. Everything is made from scratch in house, including the delicious corn tortillas (which are made to order). You can try your fix of huitlacoche (corn fungus) quesadillas and flor de calabaza (squash blossom) quesadillas. All the salsas are top notch and the guisos (stews) are as well. I would personally like the squash blossoms used in other ways (e.g. a corn, squash and squash blossom soup) or the huitlacoche used in a more delicate way. The owners are from Mexico City but really are talented chefs. Both ingredients are used everyday in Oaxaca, one of the southernmost states, void of touristy places. I went a year ago and enjoyed it immensely.
El Paisa Cocina Mexicana
2008 N Interstate 35E (NEC of Sandy Lake and 35)
Carrollton, TX 75006-3201
This place generally has a very large following at lunch. The lunch specials can prove to be very good. Enchiladas are $3.99 everyday for your choice of two shredded beef or chicken in either red chile sauce or tomatillo sauce. I personally like the costillas de puerco en salsa verde (pork riblets with bones in a green sauce) it is $5.99 and is the Friday lunch special served with your choice of tortillas. The condiment bar can not be missed. I believe they have three to four fresh salsas made daily and one avocado salsa that is unique. They also have a great escabeche (pickled veggies (typically carrots, jalapenos, and onions) and condiments for your tacos/dishes. Breakfast tacos are also very good.
2007 E Belt Line Rd
Carrollton, TX 75006-5701
You will probably be hard pressed to find any patrons in this restaurant and I am not exactly sure why. The restaurant by the same name on NW Hwy in Dallas is always packed. I have tried many a cheese enchiladas and I like Tipicos the best. It is the chili gravy that smothers these bad boys that sets them apart. It is not spicy but rather a nice medium even tempered gravy. The rice is nicely done red rice and the refried beans, well they are another story in of themselves. Tipicos uses flor de mayo beans for their refried beans, which results in a creamier mash and smooth texture. They get my vote for best refrieds in the area. The menu is pretty typical (hence the name) but they are on par with Gonzalez. The salsa calor (hot – temperature) and salsa fresca are some of the best I have had in a non-taqueria.
365 W Jefferson Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75208
Since the closing of two better restaurants along Jefferson recently, Gonzalez has seemed to come to the forefront as of late. The flour tortillas are huge here. If you love thick flour tortillas this is probably the best place that I know of that makes them fresh. Just a warning though if you eat more than one you will have a hard time finishing your meal. They have a pretty general Northern Mexican menu but it is done a bit better. They also do have guisos that fare pretty well. **You will need to ask for the salsa fresca as Gonzalez has the worst table salsa ever.**
610 W Jefferson Blvd
Dallas, TX 75208-4724
This is the sister restaurant to La Calle Doce, which is just a few blocks away. The specialty at El Ranchito is northern style grilled meats, which are Fajitas, costillas, salchicha and the like. The two things I really like are the grilled sweetbreads (mollejas) and the grilled cabrito. I don’t think the cabrito is actually grilled but rather baked in the oven/pit, not grilled in the since of fajitas. I happen like it though as it comes out tender and is rather a show on its own grill stand. I would skip the salchicha (summer sausage) and the costillas as I remember them not to be anything special. The fajitas were quite good and the salsas were also very good make sure you ask for the other salsa besides the one you get when seated….I believe salsa fresca is the one to ask for.
Perhaps someone could chime in about La Calle Doce as it has been sometime since I have last been. A link to their website is provided below. I know Dallas Dude has been there recently.
For other Mexican treats
Elotes (E-Loh-te) stands – Roasted Corn
Taqueria El Si Hay (NWC of Davis and Lewellyn in Oak Cliff
)601 W Davis St
Dallas, TX 75208
The stand is across from the highly popular Bolsa in Oak Cliff, which is just down a bit from the Bishop Arts District. Taqueria El Si Hay has been highly rated but the guy with elotes stand is often over looked.
Dallas Farmers Market outside Shed 1
If you don’t get your fill of fruits or veggies this would be a great snack. I am not sure of the vendor name I just know he is on the Southwest corner of Shed 1
La Paloma Taqueria
14035 Coit Rd
Dallas, TX 75240-3705
SWC of Spring Valley and Coit
I am sure the elotes stand is just called Elotes La Paloma.
10025 Harry Hines Blvd
Dallas, TX 75220-4405
I have heard great things about the tacos and elotes. I am putting it on my rotation to get to. That area has several good taquerias so I am sure the elotes wouldn’t disappoint either.
539 W Jefferson Blvd
Dallas, TX 75208-4723
There are probably a hundred paleta (ice fruit popsicles) stands across the metroplex. This happens to be my favorite. The flavors are seasonal and even the helados (ice cream) are unique. I have had corn and avocado ice cream but were unique and worth a try. Rompope is also another unique ice cream (egg nog). My favorite though is a single frozen mango dessert, a mangonada. This consists of mango frozen into a solo cup with tamarind syrup on the bottom. On the top is a sprinkle of chile powder. At the register counter you can put more chile powder and also Chimayo, a chile sauce.
Without checking all the above posts, I would highly recommend Noodle Wave for excellent Thai food. Had dinner there last night with a large (18) group and, despite the fact that the restaurant was packed, they took excellent care of us. And as always, the food was sensational. A must have dish: Spinach tempura. The best part about Noodle Wave? It's, BYOB!
I sent some friends over to First Chinese this past Friday. They loved it, even though they weren't too adventuresome. They wanted a byow spot, and First Chinese BBQ fit the bill, right down to the location they wanted. They had only one complaint. As soon as their meal was finished they were pretty much scooted out, and wanted to finish a bottle they had opened. The place gets crowded.
Yeah 'Dude, it gets very crowded at certain times of the day. We (5 guys) meet there for lunch every Thursday at 1:00 and have done so for the last 20 years. Btw, after all this time eating there, curiosity got the best of us and we enquired about some of the (Chinese) dishes that are handwritten on the walls. We never realized it but, they do Peking duck with all the trimmings including the soup! $30.00 total for 5 of us. It was, delish!!!
3030 N Josey Ln Ste 113
Carrollton, TX 75007
So I never knew they had a website until I was writing this post, actually they are still working on it. I have had great luck (especially for Carrollton) with this restaurant. The Mi Quang is one of my favorite dishes. It is an egg noodle dish with shrimp and pork and the side of typical veggies (mung bean sprouts, cucumbers, lettuce, jalapenos, cilantro or culantro, Holy basil and mint). The sauce for this dish is served on the side as it is a salty broth and served with a rice cracker. The sauce is great just on its own. I am sure I butchered what this dish is all about but I am sure a Vietnamese poster will chime in. I also really like the avocado smoothie. Just about all of the dishes of any Vietnamese restaurant is available at Bon Mua.
The Carrollton Plaza Supermarket
3040 North Josey Lane
Carrollton, TX 75007
This place has a great selection of items if you wish to cook any cuisine from SE Asia. I usually stock up for my Vietnamese and Thai ingredients there. I noticed this past week when I was there that they also now carry Indian ingredients. The little deli there has some passable banh mi but I like the pate’ chaud (pate inside a pastry). It is worth a stroll around before or after Bon Mua.
Suite # 140
9780 Walnut St., Dallas, TX 75243
Not sure where to begin with this place. I haven’t had a pate’ banh mi any better. The Banh Mi #1 (with cold cuts) and #2 (just pate and butter) are some of the best sandwiches ever. They also have the best avocado smoothie. Again it sounds not so good until you drink one then you are hooked. La Me grinds the ice all the way smooth making this one just a bit better than Bon Mua in Carrollton. The Bun Cha Ha Noi is a highly rated dish also. Grilled pork with a grilled pork patty served in an addictive dipping sauce, with a side of rice noodles and veggie plate. Some other can chime into other dishes but I have always had great results with these dishes.
3565 W Walnut St
Garland, TX 75042
As air had stated Pho is on a different level here. They take pride in it and the broth shows. I also have seen a great deal of people here getting the Bun Cha Ha Noi. I believe another foodie in town rated it the best.
2150 E Arapaho Rd
Richardson, TX 75081-3147
The Ca Dut Lo (baked whole catfish) is a specialty. Everyone gets it. It is a great dish no doubt and it can be fun with a bunch of people. I have heard the frog legs are very good here but I have yet to try them. Also the seasonal hot pots are good (Ta Pin Lau). I like spicy so I like the Lau Thai Lan (the Thai style).
3112 N Jupiter Rd # 305
Garland, TX 75044-6564
Website doesn’t work quite well but check it for their hours! I love the Banh Xeo (a crispy filled crepe), Crab Rangoon, Seafood Hotpot and the baked Green mussels. The service can be a bit slow but very friendly. Ask for items off the Specials menu on the back (the only part not translated). Ask a lot of questions if you are not sure of what is in a dish. They don’t mind telling you.
3212 N Jupiter Rd # 201
Garland, TX 75044-6581
This is the area’s premier Vietnamese market. It is the newest of the bunch. It is between Saigon Block and Nam Hua. If you are in the area drop in for sure. It is huge in its selection. There are vendors surrounding the market on the inside. I really like the stand at the very back left if you enter the store from the front doors. She has a fresh squeezed cane juice with a bit of fresh squeezed orange juice that is great. Last time I was there the adjoining stand had some great sticky rice desserts one was the typical orange (mixed with fruits) and the other a corn rice with a salt/sugar and peanut topping you can add at your discretion.
I would probably rate Nam Hua and La Me my favorites. They are worth the drive from Lewisville.
Throw in some other cuisines - for Chinese, I will say First Chinese BBQ in Richardson is just awesome. Haven't been disappointed with anything we've gotten yet. Their BBQ pork soft noodle is just delicious.
If you like Biryani (more Indian, but I think Pakistani places have them too), I have really enjoyed Chamelli in Richardson (right across the street from First Chinese BBQ). Everything else I have tried in this restaurant is not that good, but their Chicken Biryani is just great. My dad is quite the Biryani connoisseur, so I got him some last time he was in town and he really enjoyed it a lot!
I recently checked out Lion City Chinese Cafe in Plano. I ordered off the white board, and got their black pepper crab (they also have chilli crab). It was just amazing. Even tho it's called "Chinese" cafe, it's more of a singaporian styled cuisine. I am taking my family here for lunch one day when they are here for thanksgiving. Can't wait for them to have the delicious crab!
There were times we thought FCB was the best Chinese in Dallas (right after we moved here). However, the Chinese cuisine here has dramatically improved since, thanks to an influx of Chinese people. (Also, there're places I would never have found without my Chinese food master, who would not go to FCB--at some places you'll never find certain dishes unless you go with a native who would order off menu!)
LewsvilleHounder's list will include most of my favorites so I'll save my keystrokes :-) , but one of the newest additions is Golden Joy BBQ in Richardson. I didn't think their BBQ pork was that good, but their Roast Pork (no comparison to FCB's), Soy Sauce Chicken and Salty Chicken were excellent. They cook the vegetables very well, too. I never dreamed that the Chinese food in Dallas would reach this level! (Their dim sum isn't good, though.)
There's also Royal Sichuan, a new Sichuan place in Richardson next to Tian Tian Supermarket, which has good reviews.
In complete candor, I think Hong Kong Royal is wonderful. They have dim sum round the clock and wonderful white board special written in Chinese. They speak wonderful English and are extremely helpful.
They also sell whole or partial crispy duck and red bbq pork to go and they hang in a case near the front by their lovely necks.