Distant lands

Uncle Chow has the best Chinese takeout. Too bad it's take-way-out

OK, this is the kind of ridiculous experience you let yourself in for when you have a job like this one. Good Chinese food is rare in Dallas, so we especially wanted to try a new takeout Chinese restaurant that we'd heard was excellent. Uncle Chow has a good pedigree; it's owned by Joe Chow, the proprietor of May Dragon, for several years now one of the best Chinese restaurants in Dallas. But driving from Mockingbird to Midway north of Frankford Road for takeout is an exercise in utter absurdity. Uncle Chow does offer free delivery in a limited area (not my neighborhood, obviously), and you can fax your order in (although that wouldn't help me since I'd still have to pack a lunch to pick it up). And if you do live within a reasonable radius, this is probably the best takeout Chinese food--I started to say in town, but that term seems a little meaningless here. Anyway, even dan-dan noodles lose a little something after they've been sitting in the car for 45 minutes.

I only visited Uncle Chow once, but I ordered an outrageous number of dishes to compensate. Portions were large, the size they used to be in Chinese restaurants, so be warned that if you order like I did, you'll be microwaving broccoli for days. One order serves at least two, nicely.

Uncle Chow's chicken was a lot like sweet and sour, with sesame seeds sticking to the sweet sauce. Garlic pork was excellent. Our favorite dish was the Ming lettuce rolls, a marvelous mixture of chicken and vegetables, everything diced to the same tiny size so you could spoon it all into a crisp iceberg lettuce cup and roll it up like a taco. The order form says this serving is meant for two, but the four of us each ate one, and there was chicken left over. Mongolian beef was good, the flat squares of meat topped with lengths of green, barely wilted scallion and glazed with rich, dark brown sauce. The dan dan noodles were cleverly packed in a divided pan so you could mix them yourself--peanut sauce, pasta, and vegetables--when you were ready to eat, an assurance of quality we especially appreciated. The only disappointment was the egg rolls, filled mostly with flavorless cabbage so they tasted nothing but fried.

Obviously, you can't fault food for geography. At least time spent in the storefront space--no need to use the word "ambiance" here unless you couple it with "laminate," "stark," or "sterile"--is minimal. This really is express food, stir-fried to order, packed with a smile and extra fortune cookies, and even after the drive-time delay that made the speed of wok cooking irrelevant, almost everything tasted good.

--Mary Brown Malouf

Uncle Chow, 19021 Midway at Rosemeade, (972) 306-2469. Open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Uncle Chow:
Garlic Pork $7.95
Dan Dan Noodles $3.50
Uncle Chow Chicken $8.95
Mongolian Beef $8.

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