It’s noon on a Sunday, and the strip mall feels abandoned. Hidden away in a leafy residential corner of Plano, Prairie Creek Village is an unusual collection of businesses. There’s a closed, unfriendly looking office for the ride-hailing company Uber, an indoor bouncy castle venue and a series of closed offices for the likes of a local swimming league and a ballet school. Over in one corner, a sign declares “Cosmic Canine,” as if no other explanation is needed. (It’s a dog training school.)
All the cars in the lot are parked in front of one tiny storefront, next to the auto parts store, facing 15th Street. This is Wu Wei Din
, a Taiwanese noodle-and-wonton restaurant that opened early last year and has been filled with hungry customers ever since. And with good reason: Wu Wei Din’s food is the kind of glorious stuff that inspires mad cravings and long drives.
The paper menu, a single front-and-back sheet in English and Mandarin, couldn’t be much simpler. There’s a short list of appetizers and then a carb-heavy onslaught of wontons, dumplings, noodle soups, noodle bowls without soup and, at the end, a few vegetables to provide the meal with a veneer of nutrition.
Interior of Wu Wei Din
What’s good? Almost everything. The spicy wontons are fantastic, with either flavorful pork filling or a surprisingly good combination of pork and shrimp ($7.99). The wontons themselves have fresh wrappers and come with a chili oil-based dipping sauce that’s spicy, but not excessive. They come seven to an order; everyone at my table agreed that we could have finished off at least one order per person.
There was similar agreement about “golden kimchi,” an appetizer found at, internet searching suggests, no other restaurant in Dallas ($4.75). Golden kimchi is a kinder, gentler version of the Korean favorite, with harmonious, flawless balance between the moderate chili spice and the crisp, very slightly sweet cabbage. It’s utterly addicting stuff, which even kimchi-phobes could devour compulsively. One order per person would be indulgent, but not crazy.
Beef noodle soup ($8.50), one of Taiwan’s national dishes, is highly customizable here. Diners choose a flavor of broth and a type of noodle from thin, thick or clear; the thick noodles zigzag into twisting, unexpected shapes and are slightly chewy. We prefer them because their flavor and texture don’t get lost in the mix. “Original” broth is a deep reddish-brown, gently spicy. It’s not as beefy in flavor as the soups at other Taiwanese spots in the Dallas suburbs, but not lacking in flavor either; Wu Wei Din’s recipe is focused more on the spices in the stock. The beef, however, is amazingly tender and flavorful, arguably the best part of the soup, and there are nice touches like a scoopful of relish made from pickled mustard greens.
Dan dan noodles
There are other soups available, but it might be best to stick with the beef noodle section. A glass noodle soup with pork is not too wild ($7.95), but the highlight is “tofu puff,” the airy, bubbly, slightly crisp slices of tofu that act as a generous garnish. Eat the tofu quickly, before the broth unpuffs it.
The list of “dry noodles” (that is, no soup) is highlighted by dan dan, the noodle variety which has become famous in Szechuan cuisine. In Taiwanese cooking, dan dan noodles are slightly different, with peanut and sesame flavors replacing the original hot chili oil. The result is just as addicting, with or without braised pork ($7.50 with, $6.50 without). I should caution, though, that this is a matter of personal taste; the peanut and sesame flavors are strong, and a diner who’s used to having this dish at, say, Royal China will be surprised by the stark difference.
Fried string beans
Another good choice is “noodle with mince pork sauce” ($7.50). The ground pork is mixed up with minced tofu, too. This is one of the subtler dishes on the menu, satisfying but not bold; one of my tablemates added a splash of the spicy wonton sauce and devoured her bowl happily, but for noodle purists that kind of heresy won’t be necessary.
On my second visit, we noticed that every table around us was ordering pork chop fried rice ($8.50), a dish just about as rustic and universal as it sounds. It’s good, if unremarkable, fried rice piled high and then topped with an entire deep-fried pork chop. Comfort food doesn’t get more comforting, especially since the pork is still tender and juicy underneath that breaded crunch.
Save room for vegetables. Sautéed Taiwanese lettuce ($8.95), a special hand-written onto the bottom of the menu, comes out as addicting as any of the noodle dishes, especially thanks to the thin slivers of what appears to be half a head of garlic. At least one of my guests declared the simply and perfectly prepared greens his favorite dish of the meal.
As satisfying as golden kimchi, sautéed greens and beef noodle soup are, there’s another side to Wu Wei Din — literally. Next door, the same management operates QQ Teahouse, a boba tea shop with an extensive list of food served from the shared kitchen. The teahouse has appealing atmosphere for the work-from-home and college student crowds, and a few shelves of Taiwanese comic books next to the sofa in the back. But my party was put off by our order of two different boba teas and a plum smoothie: All three drinks were so laden with an artificial honey-flavored powder that they were nauseating. We couldn’t come close to finishing them.
I’ll go back to QQ to try their ramen, one soup that Wu Wei Din doesn’t offer. Make no mistake: The pilgrimage up to Plano is worth it for Wu Wei Din’s soups, especially that classic beef noodle combo with pickled greens. The noodles, soups and spicy wontons have made this one of the leading Chinese restaurants in North Texas. Just don’t forget the golden kimchi.
Wu Wei Din, 2909 W. 15th St., Plano. 972-985-1688. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. BYOB.