JS Chen's Crab Fried Rice: Tackling
The Mythical Beast

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Maybe tackling JS Chen's prodigious crab fried rice the day after Thanksgiving wasn't such a great idea, after all.

Wanting to refresh our palates from turkey and stuffing bombardment, boyfriend and I took a breather from our half-hearted Black Friday shopping to pay a visit to Plano's JS Chen for a late lunch/early dinner.

Despite knowing exactly what I wanted to order, I was disappointed that the Legacy Drive and Coit Road location wasn't in the same vein of its Legacy and Central Expressway sister restaurant, JS Chen Dim Sum and Barbecue. While the Coit location does offer a basic dim sum selection on the back of the menu, what it lacks from the other restaurant is the array of Cantonese barbecued duck and pig. The absence of an extended menu would prove to be a blessing in disguise once we laid our eyes on the massiveness of the fried rice.

As simple as it all seems, the dish almost never made it out to our table. Ordering the highly desirable entree proved to be a more difficult ordeal than expected.

JS Chen's crab fried rice is the stuff of legend. (At $34.95, it ought to be.) On the afternoon of our visit, it almost remained just that -- a legend, a myth, a fairytale.

I've long heard about JS Chen, their delivery dim sum menu and their epic fried rice, but I had never had the opportunity to venture out to this part of town. After finally making the long trek to the restaurant, our waitress informed us that the crab fried rice had to be special ordered and called in a half a day ahead of time. I hadn't known that. As the boyfriend and I debated whether we should head across the street for consolation dumplings, we could hear the waitress in the kitchen loudly speaking Chinese over the telephone. A few minutes later, she returned to our table and sweetly asked if we'd be willing to wait 20 minutes for the fried rice.

While we waited, my famished and curious boyfriend ordered a chicken dan dan noodle for himself. I figured as long as we were at a dim sum restaurant, I'd order har gow, or Cantonese shrimp dumplings, to tide myself over. Both were unspectacular.

The dan dan noodles dish, while plentiful, was one note. Sliced chicken, button mushrooms and wheat flour noodles are smothered in a gloppy brown sauce. The har gow fared a bit better. The dumplings were plump and generously filled with large chunks of shrimp. What failed the popular dim sum dumplings, however, were the skins. Because har gow skins contain tapioca flour as well as wheat flour, when overcooked, the former ingredient can cause the skins to be mushy, opposed to the desired chewy texture they ought to be.

About 45 minutes and a mini-van crab drop-off later, the fabled dish arrived at our table, in all of its glory. Holy plate of food.

The boyfriend immediately regretted devouring of his dan dan noodles. Regardless of our earlier noshing, this thing is not constructed for two stomachs. Huge, lightly battered, and deep-fried Dungeness crab legs are layered on a pile of egg fried rice. Abundantly dispersed across the rice and crab are bits of seasoned fat and fried onions. Like I said, not a good idea for the day after Thanksgiving.

The dish can be overly salty, greasy and seasoned, but it was never intended for the health-conscious. And although the crab legs are separated from the main shell, the legs do not come already cracked. For a plate this massive, we were only given one shell cracker. Figure in the onions and grease factor, and it's one messy dining experience.

Throw in a couple of hungry friends and Tsing Tao beers, however, and it's well worth it.

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