Feast from the Middle East: The Basics

Margaux Anbouba has spent a lifetime of summers living in Syria and traveling the Middle East. She’s tried almost everything that Arabic food has to offer – including the Middle Eastern versions of Kentucky Fried Chicken, something that claimed to be “Chinese food,” and one hundred and one types of hummus. When she once asked her dad if she had eaten camel before, he laughed and pleaded the fifth. Today she begins a series on Middle Eastern cuisine.

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Mark Your Calendar: Thai Culture and Food Festival, May 24-25

I’ve been to the Buddhist Center of Dallas twice—both times motivated by the amazing spread that can be found there. On Sundays, this hidden temple serves some of the best Thai food in Dallas. Elderly ladies and gentleman set up food stalls in a backyard food court area and make food to order. There’s spicy, fresh papaya salad and grilled meats. The only catch? You need a translator to help you order.

It’s always been one of my favorite, secret spots. One that I’ve been hesitant to share with you readers until now. But it looks like the Buddhist Center of Dallas is ready to let the rest of the community know what a gem it is. On May 24 and 25, it’s hosting a Thai Culture and Food Festival. There’s free admission for two days of food, dance, and a look into the beautiful culture. We sent our photographer Louie Solomon to catch some of the highlights from the press preview last week. Take a look.

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Dining for Dummies: Asian Market Edition

The April issue of D Magazine is a food lover’s paradise. One feature included information on local ethnic markets. In an effort to help you decipher the guide, here is a run-down of some foods that were included in the feature. I’ll start with the Asian markets.

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Stupid or Genius? Two Dudes Open a Chinese-American Restaurant in Shanghai

Chinese-American food: not my thing. I didn’t grow up eating from white takeout boxes filled with sesame chicken, and I think fortune cookies are a terrible way to end a perfectly good meal. But this, I acknowledge, isn’t how a good chunk of Americans feel about General Tso’s chicken.

That being said, NPR did an interesting story about an 8-month-old restaurant in Shanghai called Fortune Cookie. Two Cornell University grads, David Rossi and Fung Lam, opened a restaurant serving Chinese-American food in one of the most international cities in the world. Shanghai, where my brother lives, has a bigger spread of ethnic cuisine (Uyghur cuisine, for instance, is popular there.) than any other city I’ve visited. You can also walk out the door of your apartment building, take five steps to a random street stand, and order 12 handmade soup dumplings for an astoundingly low price.

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Cheap Eats: 4 Affordable Dishes at Tei-An

I’ve been on a Tei-An kick lately. As the weather keeps getting colder/crazier, it makes sense to pop in and drink a hot, steaming bowl of soup layered with handmade soba. Just thinking about it makes my stomach feel all warm and fuzzy. I can feel my sinuses clearing.

Tei-An’s fine dining, Zen-of-an-atmosphere can give off a I’m-too-expensive-for-you attitude. Matt Shelley never walked into Tei-An until three weeks ago, thinking it was out of his price range. He’s been working in the Arts District for the last five years, too. After he discovered the $10 bowl of tonkotsu ramen, he’s been hooked ever since. That man has had Tei-An three times already.

Teiichi “Teach” Sakurai’s noodle heaven is amazingly affordable, contrary to popular belief. It’s easy to go in, order a dish for less than $10, and leave wallet-happy. It’s true. I’ve scrutizined the menu, backwards and forwards. Here are four dishes to prove it.

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Stephan Pyles to Transform Old Samar Space Into San Salvaje, a Latin Restaurant

Just when we thought Samar might really re-open again, Mike Hiller on EscapeHatch crushed those dreams with news that Stephan Pyles is re-doing the downtown restaurant space at 2100 Ross. No more Samar. We had hoped—with bated breaths—that Samar was only closing for renovations on July 1, but deep down, I knew Samar was gone for good. Goodbye, awesome tandoori butter chicken-within-walking-distance.

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On the Hunt for Greek Food in Dallas

I need help. I’ve been in Texas for five months, and I’ve yet to eat one piece of Greek food that hasn’t been cooked in my own kitchen or delivered to me on a metallic plate. I haven’t purchased good feta or kalamata olives. I haven’t sought out grape leaves or kefalotiri or melomakorana. I haven’t even had a bowl of avgolemeno. (I’ve been too busy eating Texas barbecue.)

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How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in Dallas 2014

Every year, as soon as Chinese New Year rolls around, Asia shuts down. Chinese people take advantage of their two-week holiday to get outta town. If a loved one dies during the extended break? Well, you’re pretty much screwed. A lot of funeral homes aren’t open for business, either.

Here in America, Chinese New Year isn’t as widely celebrated for more than one obvious reason. Yet Asian-American households still take it seriously. Especially young kids. For them, it’s like a second Christmas. Per tradition, parents, relatives, and family friends give hong bao (red envelopes) filled with money to children and even young adults. Families gather to eat dumplings, noodles, new year cakes, and fish. It’s always the biggest and best meal of the year. And today all of the multi-day celebrations begin. 2014 is the year of the horse.

Chinese culinary traditions are naturally confusing, even if you grew up with them. But here are some of the foods you need to start the new year off right.

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Preview: Five Sixty’s Chinese New Year Menu

According to the Chinese Zodiac calendar, The Year of the Horse embodies a sense of energy, intelligence, and ability. That being the case, Wolfgang Puck’s establishment, Five Sixty, atop Dallas’ renowned Reunion Tower, seems the appropriate venue to celebrate Chinese New Year, which starts on January 31 this year. Last night, executive chef Patton Robertson presented a picturesque, five-course prix fixe media dinner centered around the upcoming celebration. Admittedly, this is “Americanized” Asian cuisine, but the views of Dallas are the best I’ve ever seen.

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CrushCraft Thai Offers Cheap Street Eats, Opens Monday, Jan. 27

Back when we announced CrushCraft Thai’s January opening at 2800 Routh Street, we were excited about the idea of casual street food going into Uptown. (Uptown! Of all places.) Now that CrushCraft Thai is built, it’s settling nicely inside its Quadrangle nest. The interior, designed by Jones Baker, is designed to have an “open-air market feel” to the space.

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Three Places to Eat Korean Fried Chicken in Dallas (Besides Bonchon)

Bonchon Chicken let us all down, sure. We were all hyped up until it opened. Then we tried it. Then we told each other it was meh. Now Bonchon, the Korean fried chicken chain, is reorganizing itself to up its quality levels.

Meanwhile, our cravings haven’t been satisfied. We’re still hangry as heck for Korean fried chicken. It’s been a trendy food in NYC for awhile, but Dallas is just starting to get a taste for it.

The solution? These three spots in Carrollton and Dallas, where the chicken is served crispy, crunchy, tender, bready, and good. It’s all you’ve ever wanted from Bonchon. And more. Check out these relatively unknown places to get Korean fried chicken while you’re waiting for Bonchon to get their brains together.

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My Top 10 Cheap Bites of 2013 in Dallas-Fort Worth

Everyone who knows me (especially D Magazine people who observe my snacking habits like a zoo animal. Ahem.) know that I’m not a fine-dining person. I love fine-dining, sure. But in my element, I am a cheap eater. I was born on a budget, I live on a budget, and I like to save money like it’s nobody’s business. Some may even describe it as a fault.

A good meal under $10 can make me the happiest person alive.

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Restaurant Reviews: Royal Sichuan, Lion City Cafe, and Noodle House

My family is Taiwanese. Growing up, this meant we—like many typical Asian-American households—dined at Old Country Buffet, Furr’s cafeteria, and every disgusting, since-abandoned Chinese buffet within a 25-mile radius of my childhood Carrollton home. Only after Hong Kong Buffet finally puttered out after four years on life support did we begin to regularly eat at mom-and-pop Chinese restaurants. Places like Royal China were too fancy and expensive for us. They never made it into our rotation.

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Teiichi Sakurai Will Open a Ramen Shop in Sylvan|Thirty Called ‘Ten’

Ages ago—too long ago for most of y’all to remember—I wrote that Teiichi Sakurai would be opening a fish market at Sylvan|Thirty, the mixed-use development in West Dallas/North Oak Cliff. (It’s currently being erected as I type this.) Well, forget what I said earlier about the fish market. That’s not happening anymore. Sakurai has switched […]

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Recipe of the Day: Butternut Squash Empanadas

Every year—as soon as the leaves start changing colors—my aunt, Tía Irma, makes a large amount of small, sugary empanadas to share with family all over the Mexico and the United States. She fills them up with jelly, dulce de leche, and butternut squash.  After spending some time with her this weekend, I found out […]

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