Friday, December 5, 2008
Best Bites: Dining out in Dallas-Fort Worth December 5
A banh mi sandwich chain from California hits Dallas. Well, Garland. But you know what I'm saying.
The Vietnamese "banh mi" sandwich is a foodie cult item, and so Lee's Sandwiches is a real find. This is the first Dallas branch of a chain that originated in San Jose and is devoted to this Vietnamese version of a sub sandwich. It's made on a French baguette, with pork usually, plus pickled vegetables, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers. When done right (and the one at B.B. Bop is a personal favorite), it has a delicious sweet-and-hot thing from the cilantro and jalapenos, plus crunch from the vegetables, that really fills the mouth.
Lee's offers banh mi sandwiches with a variety of meats including ham, pork, cured pork, and pate, as well as sandwiches made on croissants, fruit smoothies, and ice cream. The chain has more than 30 branches up and down the California coast, but also a branch in Arizona, Oklahoma City, two in Houston, and now this one at the Saigon Mall in Garland.
MaNow, not later
MaNow Asian Brasserie, which takes over the space on Lemmon Avenue vacated by Thai Nipa last year, has been open only a few weeks but has already undergone a name change. Spokesman Sean Kang 'splains.
"We originally called it 'Asian fusion', but everybody uses the word 'fusion' and you have a high rate of failure when you use that term," he says. "The term 'brasserie', we did not borrow it from France, but from Japan, where the brasserie concept is the hottest thing going on right now. One of our investors' sons studied in Japan and he brought the word in, with the definition being 'in between a restaurant and a cafe', it can go big or small."
There's also hairs to be split over the way they describe their cuisine.
"We are 'authentic Thai fusion-plus-sushi cuisine'," Kang says. "We're not Thai-Japanese, we are more Thai cuisine plus sushi. Our signature dish is rainbow carpaccio, with paper-thin slices of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and super white tuna, lined across the plate in stripes like a keyboard, infused with a line of lime juice, lemon juice, aged soy sauce, sesame oil, roasted sesame seed, garnished with radish sprouts and caviar."
The place boasts a $250K makeover (lots of plexiglass); a chef named Nook imported from Chicago; and a menu with drunken noodles, soft-shell crab curry, and grilled-chicken sandwich with green curry. Liquor license is pending, so for now it's BYOB.
Off and on
- A second branch of Margarita Ranch, the Tex-Mex place in Mockingbird Station, has opened in the Quadrangle (right around the corner from where Mike Modano and company's new sports bar-restaurant Hully & Mo Restaurant & Tap Room is set to open).
- The Franchise Grill & Bar is opening in mid-December at the intersection of Custer and Parker in Plano, where soon-to-be El Centro graduate/chef Earl Nadel will do from-scratch versions of bar food, including hand-patted burgers and a clever "build-your own queso dip" with ramekins of chopped tomato, crumbled sausage, and diced jalapeno peppers that you can stir in to suit your taste. It has 26 TVs, including three 73-inchers and 23 50-in plasmas. This makes three sports bars within a mile, right in between Austin Avenue and End Zone.
- Paradise Bakery & Cafe opened a branch in the new Rosewood Court complex at 2101 Cedar Springs Road. Did you know that Paradise was acquired by Panera Bread last year? I did not. ... The Meridian Room has re-opened with the same menu it had with the previous owners. ... Olea Bistro in Plano has closed.
- Veteran sharp-suit wearer Brian Perry has left Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek and is now manager at Nick & Sam's. ... Chef Chris Svalesen, who founded Go Fish (now Go Fish Ocean Club) has landed at Central Market where he was just promoted to executive chef at the specialty market's fancy new cafe in Dallas. ... Aurora pastry chef Bethany Costello is baking loaves of their signature cranberry/pistachio bread for Christmas gifts, $15 per loaf.
Thanks to Webra for tip!