It was Day 2 of Dallas' #SLEETSHOW2015. I wore a hoodie; he wore athletic gear. We met in a storefront restaurant in Richardson, and we were, I think, the only people there without Asian heritage. Together, we slurped our way through fine Taiwanese fare while I pondered what the Year of the Goat might mean for my future.
I was with Brooks Anderson, co-owner and co-visionary behind Veritas Wine Room, Bishop Arts' Boulevardier, and the soon to be opened on May 15 Rapscallion on lower Greenville. He'd mentioned that he makes a point to make almost-weekly visits to King's Noodle, a place that could lovably be termed as a "hole in the wall." I wanted to know why, so I invited myself.
There are about 80 items on the menu, though they aren't all listed in numerical order, and the average price per dish is around $6 or $7. The kitchen is in the back corner, where you place your order and where a vat of bone broth that will soon be in your noodle soup wafts under your nose. When asked what all was in that broth, the cook said, "Chinese things." The recipe is a secret, I guess.
With Anderson's guidance, we narrowed our selections down to the Three Delight Beef Dry Noodle -- tendon, tripe, and some very tender braised chuck covered in that bone broth and served with thick, long noodles. All the soups come with suan cai, a traditional Chinese sauerkraut. I also couldn't resist the homemade steamed pork dumplings, probably made with some other "Chinese things" that were served piping hot. King's Noodle also has fried rice "for the Americans," the cook said, but all the not-Americans get their fried rice made with the flat noodles. We tried it. The Chinese people were right.
Anderson also was insistent on the cold cucumber and the beef tendon from the "Simmered Dish" section of the menu. The cucumber was fresh, crispy and spicy with serrano peppers; the tendon was sweet and... chewy. If you're even more adventurous, there's pig ear. I washed all this down with a red bean tea, something that tasted like a healthier version of a melted Frappuccino. If red beans in your tea isn't your thing, there are about 15 other strange yet delicious options to choose from.
While we joined the slurping chorus around us, Anderson told me about his long love affair with food and why he's chosen it as a career. The beginning lies with his Grand-mère, or as his brother Bradley botched it, "Ma." She was a mademoiselle and gourmand brought back from France by his grandfather after WWII. At Ma's house, eating was an event. Though the budget didn't always allow it, she had a palate for caviar and champagne, and she served three-hour dinners, carefully coursed out and properly enjoyed, Anderson said. Dinner was a sacred time with family -- no distractions allowed.
Later, in law school in Houston in the mid-90s, Anderson, now a bon vivant on a budget much like his Ma, was eating $5 bowls of pho before anyone knew how to correctly pronounce "pho." After returning to Dallas in 1999 and exploring all that Dallas had to offer in the way of Vietnamese soups, he branched. King's Noodle became a favorite.
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"So what made you want to go into the food and wine industry after practicing law for nine years?" I asked at one point.
"Practicing law for nine years," he said.
It was a fair point. So in 2008, Anderson and his brother launched Veritas. Then, after meeting Randall Copeland and Nathan Tate of Restaurant Ava, the brothers spotted another opportunity -- a restaurant to be named "Boulevardier," loosely meaning "a man about town" and also referring to the classic cocktail.
Despite the success of Boulevardier, even after chef Randall Copeland unexpectedly passed away in 2013, opening Rapscallion is just as terrifying as his first two projects, Anderson said. It's also stressful. That's why he comes to Richardson for Taiwanese noodles and a 30-minute foot rub at the place next door for $20. "There's nothing to guarantee this one will work," he said, and we kept slurping.