There appears to be a new restaurant power couple developing restaurants at break neck speeds in Dallas. Opening their first restaurant, Wicked Po Boy, back in June of 2012, Lan Chi and Joey Le have since opened Tanoshii Ramen + Bar successfully in Deep Ellum this past September. Less than a month ago Miss Chi was introduced in Preston Center, and based on the crowds we witnessed on several occasions, the latest restaurant is a huge success. We have loved and enjoyed each concept, and Miss Chi certainly falls into those ranks.
Miss Chi is all about the Vietnamese food, which Dallas has embraced openly. The Pho phenomenon has escalated to the point where a bowl of the savory broth is simply part of the weekly rotation for many. The pho at Miss Chi will warm your cockles with its complex flavors, and tender bits of beast including rare slices of steak, tender meatballs and sultry tendon. The soup is garnished with chopped onions and herbs, and served with the usual basil, bean sprouts and wedges of lime. This is truly a delicious bowl of pho.
For those a bit more adventuresome, sample out the Bun Bo Hue, a spicy beef noodle soup with steamed pork, cabbage and fresh herbs. There will be little need to reach for the sriracha with this bowl, it is plenty spicy enough and will cure the common head cold. The flavors are also complex enough that you will enjoy the bowl regardless of the slight burn to the lips.
The menu has changed a bit since opening, so cross off the banh xeo from your list of must have dishes. We will make our plea here to bring it back, but understand that the tiny kitchen may have been overwhelmed as it is not exactly simple to make. Trot over to the sister restaurant, Tanoshii for a fine example of banh xeo. It is worth the trip all by itself. It is the rice batter crepe filled with pork, shrimp, jicama and scallions. They also have a vegan version. The Le’s are extremely vegan friendly with all their restaurants.
We loved the large variety of spring rolls available, particularly the shrimp because it was light and delicate. But do not neglect the grilled pork or lemongrass chicken versions, these also are mighty tasty. Miss Chi also serves up similar steam buns as Tanoshii, and definitely the only house made buns we have run across. Oddly enough Super H Mart supplies many of the restaurants their dough for the buns, but you can tell by sight and by flavor that these are definitely house made. Bravo, because it is a hella amount of work to produce these little pillows of dough, and well worth their price of a mere $4.
Several other menu items we enjoyed included the Shaken Beef. This is a fairly simple dish with tender bits of beef, onions, peppers, watercress, served with a side of jasmine rice. Simple, but often tortured with bad cuts of abused beef. Miss Chi treats her beef very well, and it is well played. The banh mi sandwich is only served for lunch service. This gives us a reason to make a pit stop when we are close to the neighborhood because it is a well produced sandwich that is made with that perfect French roll that is chewy and has a bit of that mouth lacerating charm that only a banh mi should have. You should start with the grilled pork as that is traditional. It has a layer of French butter, pork pate as well as the required pickled carrots and daikon. On a future visit we want to try out the eggplant and the Vietnamese meatball. They both sound delicious.
The cocktail list is impressive, and do not expect some watery, sweet concoction. Instead look for well crafted drinks more often found in some of our better lounges. These were engineered by one of our favorite cocktail sons, Julian Pagan. You may recall the name from his most recent stint at Cedars Social. Pagan is creating the cocktail list for all the Le restaurants. This is a good thing.
This brings us to the desserts. The Le family must have a sweet tooth as the desserts are not an afterthought, or way to add a few extra bucks to your tab. These are well thought out and amazing taste sensations. One evening this week they featured a simple three layered chocolate cake made by Joey Le’s sister (oh boy, I hope I got that right). It was the most most and tender cake to have passed our lips, and we were told she added coffee grounds to the batter. Amazing cake. Other pastries are made in house, and on occasion they will have some brought in from Rush Patisserie in Oak Cliff. Oh, that Samantha Rush can bake. Whatever you order, please save room for a dessert. In fact, order the dessert first and have it on the ready in case they run out.
It looks like the Le’s have another success on their hands. Starting next week we understand they will be serving family meal. We will send word on that service when we have more information, but it sounds like a lot of fun. You will want to make a pass through the restaurant soon, and ask about the cake that craveDFW raves about.