We drove through Chinatown in Richardson this week in search of something particular, but the restaurant we were looking for was a mob scene. So we carefully summoned past memories of all the many choices of restaurants in the plaza and decided on Caravelle which has a focus on Vietnamese and Chinese dishes.
You can certainly find a worthy bowl of pho on the menu, but was looking for something a bit different. For a soup we ordered a combination hot pot which would encompass many of the seafood items they offer, but we were being waited on by the most entertaining Mary, who is also a manager at the restaurant, and she directed us to the catfish hot pot. She said it was much more authentic, and we are a sucker for that phrase.
Basically the hot pot is a giant round aluminum pot with a torch in the center to keep the dish fresh. Think shabu shabu for soup.
In addition to the hot pot we went for something off the menu, again suggested by Mary who was looking to tailor our dinner to taste. She suggested mixed vegetables with fried pork, which they do very well, and also encouraged us to add eggplant for an extra two dollars. Later we asked the name of the tasty dish and she said, “Mixed vegetable with pork and two dollar eggplant.” We gotta remember that one.
Mary is a most curious woman and will make your meal with her entertaining style. She speaks fairly decent English, but is fast and has little volume control. She was the highlight of the evening, actually. Once in front of you, the energetic woman is in pure sales mode. We were not particularly looking for appetizers but she enticed us into ordering several.
The first was a pork dumpling that they make in house. It is rather large, a bit thick skinned, but delicious. She offered another two dollar deal by suggesting we just grab two of the dumplings instead of the usual six that comes with an order. Then she said we would probably want the shrimp balls and offered the same deal again. Two dollars, which seems to be her favorite words.
The shrimp balls are not actually ball shaped, but rather more of a small loaf. These were the highlight of the evening. If you go to Caravelle you will need to meet Mary, and order the shrimp balls. They are both delicious.
As for our hot pot, not so much. The broth was a bit murky and sour, and not in a good way. The catfish was difficult to eat and was basically just chopped whole catfish swimming around the pot in all its boney glory. Precarious at best.
The menu at Caravelle is strong, and has plenty to offer any guest. We suggest you check out this dining stalwart.Caravelle Chinese & Vietnamese 400 N Greenville Ave, Richardson (972) 437-6388