I blatantly stole the idea to visit Lion City Chinese Café in Plano from the online events calendar for the Dallas Ethnic Restaurants meet-up group, which sounds like a fairly brilliant eating club.
According to the organizer's description, the restaurant is "the real deal transplant of Singapore style street food, where it is run by the mother cooking and the father taking orders and cleaning tables. If you need water or utensils, get up and get it yourself."
Since I'm on an Asian noodle kick this week -- I recently returned from the Southern Foodways Alliance field trip to Atlanta's immigrant-dominated Buford Highway, where former Dallas Morning News critic Bill Addison led a three hour eating tour of rice and noodles at Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean joints -- I figured I could use some real deal noodles, Singapore-style.
True to the online description, Lion City doesn't have a single frill. It's a spare, strip-mall space, where water's served by the pitcher to save the restaurant's only staffer the trouble of making an extra trip to your table. As I'd come for the noodles, I was happy to fill my own Styrofoam cup.
I ordered the mee goreng, a classic Malaysian dish of noodles lightly fried with garlic, onions and bits of egg. The noodles were fat and soft, and the seasoning was extremely subtle. Perhaps the server noticed me dousing the noodles with the hot sauce I found on another table, since the kitchen didn't hold back on the chilis in my kangkong with sambal sauce, a stalky water spinach dish that even smelled hot. The spicy sauce clung beautifully to the vegetables, making for a nicely unified dish.
I liked Lion City, and would love to return on a weekend, when specialties including chicken laksa noodles are added to the erase-board menu. While the dishes I sampled didn't strike me as extraordinary, the flavors were so confident that I'm guessing they'd scratch an itch for anyone familiar with Malaysian food. After a few more visits to Lion City, maybe that will be me.
Lion City Chinese Cafe
2109 W. Parker Road, Plano