In Frisco, becoming a successful Chinese restaurant can be tricky. As one of the fastest-growing cities in America, Frisco clearly hosts its fair share of varied and diverse dining destinations. With the recent addition of many multi-faceted, mixed-use developments and retail spaces, Frisco residents can be pretty choosy on their choices of cuisine. All the while, those offering Asian cuisine must strike a delicate balance, catering to the American palate while still being authentic enough in culture to be considered a reputable joint. It definitely can be a precarious situation.
However, with the name like Howard Wang’s China Grill – a long-time Dallas restaurant staple with more than 30 years of experience – success is most assuredly definite as their reputation proclaims delivering an innovative upscale Chinese dining experience time and again. Their newest outpost, located at The Star in Frisco, strikes the perfect balance between authentic Chinese food with fresh taste and flair paired with American influence. Excited to hear of their newest location, a few friends and I decided to try Howard Wang’s for a casual dinner and to hang out.
We arrived to the trendy location and were able to park right on the street as it was a weeknight. As we walked through the massive doors, we were greeted immediately and seated inside. Joining a host of other popular eateries in the area, Howard Wang’s fits right in between upscale casual and relaxed chic. The interior design boasts a modern vibe with warm wood floors and contemporary booths with honey blonde and white accents, creating a quiet yet welcoming ambiance. Immediately to the right of the entrance, I encountered an Asian-style, wood-planked wall with sections allowing light to shine through and emulating an interesting Asian style. The restaurant provided spacious seating both inside and within a patio area. No reservations were needed on this relaxing Thursday evening, but on a weekend, it might be necessary, as this spot is pretty hopping.
As one might think, the concept for the restaurant originated with, no surprise here, Howard Wang, who has been a member of the Dallas restaurant community since 1982, when he opened his first family-owned location. The signature namesake originally opened at Northwest Highway and Midway Road, and he has proceeded to open three additional locations, including this one in Frisco – all with rave reviews! Having heard about Howard Wang’s original family-crafted recipes, you can imagine my anticipation and enthusiasm to sit down and enjoy the exciting pairings of flavors through its highly-variable menu items. I assure you, it did not disappoint!
Once settled in our seats, we began with a drink as happy hour was in full swing (Monday through Friday, from 3-7 p.m.) The menu featured both $1 and $2 bites and $1 to $4 beverages with a pretty respectful selection. Because I was more interested in a cocktail versus hot sake, beer or wine, I asked for the “regular” menu. Once it arrived, I was presented with various beers and Asian-themed mixed drinks, and I selected the Asian Pear Margarita, which was absolutely fabulous. The infused flavors of Asian pear, ginger liqueur and top-shelf tequila were festive but not too sweet and absolutely refreshing on that hot Texas evening. We also ordered a few happy hour bites, including the spicy and regular edamame, a couple of orders of chicken pot stickers and crab wontons, all for the grand total of $10. Did I mention the happy hour menu is the bomb?
We then settled in for some lengthy girl-talk and worked up even more of an appetite just as appetizers arrived. The edamame was perfectly seasoned and the pot stickers were very satisfying. But, overwhelmingly, the crab wontons were the star of the show. The crabmeat combined with cream cheese, garlic and just a touch of Worcestershire was mixed together and then deep-fried and served with the sweet and sour sauce on the side. The rich yet creamy taste combined with the crunch of the wonton itself was heavenly, impeccably balanced and out-of-this-world delicious. Hands down, those were the best wontons I have ever had and definitely the favorite food item tried that evening.
After these heavy hors d’oeuvres, I was seeking a much lighter entrée. Thankfully, Howard Wang’s offers a wide array of delicious signature, new style and health-conscious (vegetarian and gluten free) menu options. I deliberated the menu choices, and finally settled on the Grilled Atlantic Salmon with steamed vegetables and a side of teriyaki sauce. I was also offered the option of white, brown or fried rice, and even though I was seeking a healthy option, I could not resist the fried rice.
The entrees were delivered to the table promptly, and I could not help but dive right in. The fully-seasoned fish featured a crispy, textured outside coupled with a soft, delicious inside. Paired with the teriyaki sauce, it melted in my mouth, providing a bit of salty goodness with each mouthful. The steamed vegetables were light but tasty, and the fried rice added a substantial crunch with each and every bite. The meal was to die for. I was seeking something healthy but filling, and to say it hit the spot would not be sufficient. It was absolutely perfect!
If you are a fan of traditional Chinese cuisine, the Kung Pao, Chicken Pad Thai or Mandarin Sweet and Sour might seriously tempt you. Another sure winner is the “Happy Family,” a delicious combination of chicken, shrimp, scallops, barbecue pork, along with a mix of festive snow peas, Napa cabbage, carrots and asparagus tossed in a brown sauce. Everyone at our table ordered different items, and we were each thoroughly satisfied with the diverse selection and quality of food.
Even though I could have rolled out of the restaurant at this point, I could not help but nod in agreement when our waitress returned with dessert options. When she mentioned the green tea fried ice cream, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided then and there that I must try it. In an instant, she brought it right to the table, complete with five spoons for each of us to try the delicacy. The soft ice cream was within a harder, outer shell of the dessert crust. It was not your average dessert, and everyone enjoyed the unique choice.
Ultimately, the experience, food and overall ambiance of Howard Wang’s China Grill stand out from other restaurants in the area. The dining destination was welcoming, and the staff was friendly and accommodating. The food was genuinely amazing and seriously the best Asian food I have had in a while. I will definitely be back very soon!
Whether out on a date night, going out with the girls, entertaining business clients or eating with your family, Howard Wang’s China Grill caters to a plethora of possibilities. Howard Wang’s China Grill is located at 6740 Winning Drive, Suite 1000, in Frisco. Visit hwrestaurants.com/frisco for more information, including a view of the menu.
Frisco STYLE Magazine dining reviews are not scheduled with or paid for by the featured restaurant. All reviews are completed for the purpose of helping readers know and enjoy local dining options.