Dallas proper has been missing authentic Chinese cuisine for quite some time. And since Szechuan Pavilion shuttered at Preston Center many years ago after a 17-year-long run, the 8411 Preston Road, Suite 132 space has had some of the highest turnover for restaurants in the city.
Jia Huang hopes to change that with her new authentic and upscale Chinese restaurant called Jia Modern Chinese & Asian Lounge, slated to open this September.
Huang’s passion for Chinese cuisine began when she was growing up in China. Her family owned a small restaurant in her hometown. She and her sisters spent a lot of time helping her father cook and tend to their own vegetable garden and small farm with chickens and pigs.
“This is how I learned a lot about ingredients,” Huang tells PaperCity. “How to pair certain spices with different meats and how some vegetables pair better with chicken or pork.” This is where she fell in love with cooking and hospitality.
And Huang is no stranger to the restaurant and hospitality industry in Dallas. She formerly worked at Highland Park’s Lombardi Family Concepts.
The dream to open her own Chinese restaurant began when she moved to Dallas 11 years ago. Huang noticed that there weren’t a lot of options to sit down and enjoy Chinese food.
“At the time, it made me feel like I was eating street food in Shanghai,” she says. At most places, it’d be a quick meal and then you’d leave.
Jia’s goal is to create a space where people can come, eat good food, and stay awhile. Her new restaurant has two floors. One main dining area that seats about 65 peoples, not including the patio, and a second floor lounge that will have sofas and small tables for cocktails and small bites.
“For me, the business is not just about food — it’s about the connections,” she says. “I feel the connection between me and my guests, and I want my guests to feel like they are at home eating homemade meals.”
As for these meals, Jia Modern Chinese will serve a small menu, highlighting authenticity and freshness. Kung Pao Chicken, spring rolls and hand-made dumplings are some of the dishes. But, these will all be made exactly how they are in China. The Kung Pao Chicken won’t be slathered in sweetness like Americanized Chinese food tends to be, and spring rolls will not be deep fried.
One of Jia’s favorites that they’ll be offering is Sheng Jian Bao, which is a pan-fried pork bun. The kitchen will be manned by a dumpling chef, and includes a chef from Shanghai and Huang’s chef friend from Taiwan. Coincidently, the Taiwanese chef worked at Szechuan Pavilion 15 years ago.
Cocktails will also be brought back from China, such as rosewater mixtures. If you’re not a cocktail person, do not fret, there will also be wine. Art is also being brought in from China to create the most genuine experience possible.
“It’s all about creating a feeling for the city,” Huang says. “It will be a place where people can get the best Chinese food and have the best time.”