Fresh hand-pulled noodles created on the spot as a sort of combo floor show and display of food prep seem to be everywhere in North Texas lately, and Taste of Peking
in Plano is not about to miss out on this trend. Of course, the menu offers what one would expect from a Chinese restaurant in DFW: hot and sour soup, crab Rangoon, General Tso’s Chicken, etc., but you'll also find some more traditional fare such as handmade bao, yushang chicken, Sichuan cold noodles and Lanzhou beef soup. But let’s not kid ourselves. We have become enthralled with the whole hand-pulled noodle scene, so we made our way to Taste of Peking for dinner.
Colorful parasols hanging from the ceiling are a nice design touch.
The dining area has numerous colorful parasols hanging from the ceiling, creating an inviting ambiance. Once we were seated, we spied Mr. Charlie behind the counter, hand pulling noodles with gusto and good cheer. With a large grin on his face, he nodded to all and stopped occasionally mid-pull in an attempt to pose for the perfect picture. Clearly, this is not his first noodle rodeo. He was quite the showman.
As another noodle-pulling performance nears an end, Mr. Charlie strikes a pose.
We pried our eyes away long enough to scan the menu and make our choices: a couple of starters, a soup, some bao and a main. We tried not to be distracted by the loud thwapping sound of noodles hitting the counter.
Vegetable egg roll.
The vegetable egg rolls were OK, arriving hot at our table with a small bowl of duck sauce packets. They were a bit pricey, perhaps, at $3.50 for a pair. The green onion pancake came next, eight pie wedge pieces that were not greasy or overly loaded up with green onion. They were fine, if not anything to write home about. We always order these if they’re on the menu, because it was a favorite treat cooked by one of our fathers growing up, simply referred to as “Papa’s Pizza” back then. We’ve yet to find any version as good.
Green onion pancakes. Not as good as Papa's Pizza, but it'll do.
The Peking pan-fried bao came four to an order with dipping sauce. These were stuffed with pork and mushrooms and pan-fried slightly with sesame seeds on the top rather than the bottom of the bao. These, of course, are hard to eat, especially with chopsticks, but always worth the effort.
Peking pan-fried bao with pork.
Hongshao beef noodle soup was next, and this contained some of the fruits of Mr. Charlie’s efforts: braised beef green onion, coriander, cilantro, spinach, and, of course, the noodles, all in a slightly spicy broth. The noodles were long and wonderful, but there may have been a bit too much cilantro for our tastes.
Hongshao beef noodle soup: braised beef, green onion, coriander, hand-pulled noodles, cilantro and spinach.
Our final dish, yushang pork, arrived on a plate piled high with bamboo, thinly sliced carrot, black mushrooms, green onions and shredded pork in a delicate garlic sauce. This was a lot of delicious food, and it came with a cup of steamed rice.
Yushang pork: pork, carrot, bamboo, mushroom and green onion.
All in all, Taste of Peking does traditional American Chinese restaurant food well, and its noodles, bao and other slightly more authentic fare, on the whole, get positive marks from us, too. As we paid the check and gathered up our stuff to leave, Mr. Charlie nodded to us from behind the counter while flinging noodles, the big grin still on his face, and we nodded back. You have to give props to those who really love what they do.
3131 Custer Road, No. 182, Plano; 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Friday – Saturday.