Roasted duck is served with steamed buns and hoisin barbecue sauce at Fine China.
The dining room at Howard Wang's Uptown location.
Some of Howard Wang's delicious dishes.
Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck in Reunion Tower
I like ending my evening at Howard Wangs with green green tea ice cream with banana tempura.
What you will find on the push carts at Kirin Court.
Kirin Court's white radish dumplings.
Kirin Court's minced beef dumplings.
Fine China's delicious noodles.
Dallas' largest table, a 28-top, sits in the front of Fine China, the new restaurant in The Statler hotel.
The Year of the Pig is soon upon us. One of the best ways to celebrate Chinese New Year in a very authentic way is with a good meal. Growing up and even now whenever I am with family, food is such an integral part of a gathering.
Chinese celebrations always involved elaborate dishes with the host feeding everyone at the table and urging all to “eat more.” In fact, declining seconds of a dish can sometimes be seen as an insult. Movies, like brilliant director Ang Lee’s Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, are devoted to this very concept.
Below are some of the best restaurants for a wonderful Chinese meal in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Each of these Dallas restaurants offers a different dining experience. All of which I enjoy depending on my mood.
First Chinese Barbecue
I first discovered this gem in Haltom City when I was living in Fort Worth. Haltom City, for many of you who might not know, is only a 20 to 25 minute drive from the Museum District (many of you likely have that neighborhood as a reference point).
If you are looking for a high-end experience, a room with beautiful finishings and an extensive wine list, don’t make your way to First Chinese Barbecue. However, if you are looking for incredible and authentic Chinese food, then head towards Haltom City.
On my first visit, many years ago, I was taken back in time to memories of being in New York City on the hip of my mother and going to restaurants in Chinatown. These always seemed to be in basements of loud streets.
Upon entering crowded dining rooms that were sat family style (often with other diners not in your group) your senses were immediately bombarded. Mismatched decor with tables laden with every imaginable dish, out-of-date calendars and posters of Chinese film stars kept your eyes darting about the room. The fragrant smells of seafood and spices like ginger and curry filled your nose. The crowded rooms were louder even than the streets outside with conversations that resembled screaming matches and pans and dishes heard clanging in the kitchen.
The food at First Chinese Barbecue never fails to disappoint. I’ve heard that true restaurant insiders, the staff and chefs at some of Dallas’ finest establishments, flock to this place when they want an “authentic” meal. I personally love Chinese leftovers, so be prepared to order a few dishes to share and then to bring home the rest. Perhaps even order some of the meats that are seen hanging in the front window (also, another very NYC Chinatown feature).
Once again, it is no-frills. No reservations required (so be prepared to wait a few minutes for a table to open) and cash-only.
First Chinese Barbecue, 5310 E Belknap St H, Haltom City, 817-834-1888
Dim Sum is a uniquely Chinese experience. Generally eaten at lunchtime (in some cities only served on weekends) this is a meal made-up primarily of little dishes, or what Americans call appetizers. It’s best to have an experienced dim sum connoisseur with you on your first visit as with many of the dishes it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re eating.
Many of the dishes are buns or wrapped items — once again with mysterious fillings. One dim sum constant that many will know immediately from its looks is chicken feet. Intimidating to some without adventurous palates, it may seem like something someone would eat on an episode of The Amazing Race or a delicacy only to be tried by Anthony Bourdain.
The dishes are brought out fast and furiously via carts wheeled throughout the restaurant. It is a sight to behold and not what most American diners are used to. Almost cafeteria-style, but the line comes to you instead of vice-versa.
When I used to live in Seattle, where dim sum restaurants where found on every corner in Chinatown, I would visit at least once-a-month. The well-known Influencer, Tina Craig (known to many as #bagsnob on Instagram) first turned me on to Kirin Court. I paid a visit over the recent Christmas holidays and am already planning a trip back sometime in February. Even though this restaurant is massive inside, resembling a banquet hall in a hotel, it always fills-up, so be prepared to wait up to a half hour for a seat.
Kirin Court, 221 West Polk Street, Suite 200, Richardson, 214-575-8888, kirincourt.com
Howard Wang’s Uptown
If you are looking for convenience (and live in Dallas), and a nicer dining room (perhaps you are taking a date to celebrate the New Year) then look no further then Howard Wang’s on Lemmon Avenue. This location has been open for almost eight years and caters to the young professionals in the neighborhood as well as a family audience for weekend lunches.
On a recent visit, when the outside temperatures were dipping into the low twenties, I was overjoyed when my hot and sour soup arrived. It was the perfect beginning along with steamed wontons with the perfect amount of spice for me and my boyfriend (we were having a date night).
Then on to our main courses, which in Chinese tradition were shared family style: Wang’s Splendor, General Tsao’s chicken and Sichuan string beans with chicken. They were all great, but my favorite was the Sichuan dish of greens and tender poultry. String beans are tricky and are often either over or undercooked. That said, these were perfection tossed with garlic, dry chili, scallions and layered in spicy Sichuan sauce. They retained a crunchiness and had the vibrant green of truly fresh vegetables.
As I have a sweet tooth, we ended with some green tea ice cream accompanied by tempura bananas drizzled in honey.
Howard Wang’s 3223 Lemmon Avenue #103, Dallas, 214-954-9558, hwrestaurants.com
Five Sixty Restaurant (in Reunion Tower)
Dallas’ horizon brightens with Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty atop Reunion Tower, Downtown’s iconic 560-foot landmark with its distinctive glowing ball. Upon ascending 50 stories, diners depart from the elevator at the center of the master chef’s restaurant. From the moment guests enter, they are greeted by floor-to-ceiling windows that line the restaurant, offering 360-degree views of Dallas, as the room revolves.
The menu features Puck’s creative, contemporary interpretations of Asian dishes. Guests can enjoy fine dining in the main room as well as a more casual, but no less stylish, dining experience at the restaurant’s two bars: an elegant rotating bar facing outwards so diners can enjoy the view, and a stationary, ultra-contemporary illuminated glass bar located at the center of the restaurant. Wine aficionados will appreciate an extensive list of more than 400 labels, as well as nearly one dozen brands of sake plus by-the-glass selections.
Five Sixty will host a Chinese New Year celebration from February 5 through 8 with a Night Market on Wednesday, February 6. Highlights of that evening will include a Chinese calligrapher and candy maker, dragon dancers as well as interactive culinary and cocktail stations. The prix fixe menu is $95 per person with an additional $30 for beverage pairing.
Five Sixty Restaurant, 300 Reunion Blvd, Dallas, 214-571-5784, wolfgangpuck.com
The above are just some of the restaurants that I frequent when I want a little taste of food that reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking. Below are just a few more. Please keep in mind, these are just some of the many wonderful Chinese restaurants in Dallas/Fort Worth. If you have a favorite, leave a comment on this story so I can add another to my repertoire.
Fine China (at the Statler Hotel), 1914 Commerce St, Dallas,, 469-320-8996, finechinadallas.com
Gung Ho, 2010 A Greenville Ave., Dallas, 972-910-2106, gunghodallas.com, Gung Ho will be hosting a New Year’s celebration on Monday, February 4 starting at 5 pm with drink specials and then a DJ beginning at 10 pm