First Chinese BBQ, an Authentic Meal Within Reach

17 Jul

If you follow this blog, you know I’m a big fan of the First Chinese BBQ chain in DFW.  I’ve been to three different locations on countless occasions.  This isn’t as much of a review as an overview of the restaurant chain for those who are unfamiliar and reasons for my zealousness.

So here’s the thing, if you live close to the DFW area, and have never had authentic Cantonese cuisine/Chinese BBQ, and you’re not a vegetarian, you really owe yourself a trip to First Chinese BBQ.  Too far away, you say?  They have four locations to serve your needs:

1) Arlington (Arkansas Ln just west of Cooper)
2) Carrollton (northeast corner of Belt Line & Josey)
3) Plano (northeast corner of Parker & Coit)
4) Richardson (Greenville Ave just south of Main/Belt Line)

Does anyone know of more locations elsewhere?  Let me know

When someone asks about good Chinese food in Dallas, I think any foodie’s default answer is to visit one of these locations.  Granted, other great Cantonese restaurants exist (New San Dor) and there are certainly good options for other styles of Chinese cuisine in DFW, but First Chinese BBQ wins the convenience contest with multiple locations and trilingual menu (in Chinese, English, & Vietnamese).  It is authentic Chinese within reach.  It has that hole-in-the-wall factor without the language barrier of an all Chinese menu.  The service staff generally speaks fluent English and chances are, you won’t be the only non-Asian there (although most of the patrons will be Asian, which is always an indicator of a restaurant’s authenticity).  The restaurant chain has a loyal following of regular patrons.  Even Dragonfly’s Chef Marc Cassel confesses that the roast duck and marinated chicken are the reasons why he keeps coming back to First Chinese. 

Have I talked you into an adventure?  Enter any First Chinese BBQ location and you’ll be greeted by a display case of hanging roasted ducks and chickens, bins of BBQ pork and roast pork, and sometimes, Babe hanging from the meat hooks (post roasting, of course).  This is why I only recommend First Chinese to meat eaters.  Their vegetarian dishes are passable, but the BBQ features are definitely why people visit.  For meat eaters, this is do or die time.  You’re either going to be excited and fascinated by the deli/rotisserie case or you’re going to be disgusted and disturbed.  For the former group, let’s continue the adventure.

First Chinese does not have an alcohol license and will allow you to BYOB.  If you bring wine, bring your own corkscrew since First Chinese isn’t properly equipped.  The upside is that there is no corking fee.  The downside is that you’ll be drinking wine out of Chinese tea cups unless you bring your own glasses. 

The BBQ features come in either rice bowl combos for individual diners or as appetizers for family style meals.  You can get just one item or a combination of different types.  My favorite BBQ features here are the BBQ pork and the roast duck.  Thus, I always the get pork/duck combo dish.

The BBQ pork, tender and juicy on the inside with its sweet glazed coating, comes with extra dipping sauce for those who love that char siu flavor.  The duck is another favorite.  Crispy skin with moist meat, a little on the fatty side, but that’s what gives it such great moist flavor.  This dish is why I come to First Chinese BBQ.  It’s always on the table when I visit along with that bottle of Pinot Noir.

Every item I’ve had off of the First Chinese menu has been at least satisfactory, but here are a few that really stand out and I would recommend without hesitation:

1) Beef Flat Noodle (or Beef Chow Fun): definitely the best version of any restaurant in DFW (actually the best I’ve had anywhere).  Beef is so tender that it practically falls apart with the touch of your chopsticks. 

2) BBQ Pork Fried Rice: my default dish when I’m doing takeout from First Chinese.  Enough to feed two with a generous portion of BBQ pork.

3) Fried Cod with Black Bean Sauce:  a very thin, crispy batter coats the cod steaks which are topped with a thick black bean sauce.

4) Chinese Broccoli: you’ll need some greens after all these meat-heavy recommendations.

5) Bok Choy and Mushrooms in Garlic Sauce: another great veggie option.  The mild garlic flavor is a good contrast from the sweet, sauce heavy meat dishes.

6) Shrimp Stuffed Tofu: reminds me of dim sum, which is always a good thing.

The hot pots are also popular here.  I’ve been meaning to try them but it’s just so hard to veer away from the things I already know I love.

The only downside to First Chinese BBQ?  They only take cash.  But a trip to the ATM is a small sacrifice for great food at affordable prices. 

Give it a try, I promise you won’t regret it.  You’ll start seeing the word “BBQ” in a different light.

Rating: 4 /5


8 Responses to “First Chinese BBQ, an Authentic Meal Within Reach”

  1. donnaaries 11/12/2007 at 1:16 am #

    First Chinese BBQ finally got a website with a menu!

    In addition to the locations listed in this post, First Chinese BBQ is also in Garland at Walnut & Jupiter.

  2. Soulslinger 12/05/2007 at 11:40 am #


    Since I first started going to First Chinese BBQ almost 6 years ago I have become an avid fan. On one of my first dates I took my wife to the Plano location and the waitress there told us when we were leaving that she could tell we were happy and would be together a long time. At that point we were just dating and now we are married so a bit of fortune telling from the waitress there. Since I have moved from Austin Ranch, I now frequent the Carrollton location. In fact we have gone twice this week. We have become regulars at the Carrollton location and a few of the waitresses now us now. I would like to add a few dishes that you might not have tried yet that our some of our favorites.

    Fish Fillet Steamed w/ Tofu – All we had asked for was a dish that featured ginger. What came out of the kitchen was just fish and tofu with ginger. First the fish was steamed to perfection on top of fresh silken tofu with a light pan sauce with scallions and ginger threads on top. This was one of the lightest dishes we have had. Everything was on point with this dish simple and delish.

    Lemongrass Pork Chop – We talked to the waitress for a good 5 – 10 minutes about our order on this one. I knew I wanted something different and nothing was sticking out. I saw the lemongrass rib on the menu but overlooked it. I knew I wanted a veggie (next dish recommendation). The waitress recommended lemongrass pork chop and told us about it (sometimes hard to understand is somewhat broken English) she said it was crispy and juicy with a tiny bone (about the size of a pinky finger nail). I did not see how much this was on the menu because it wasn’t on the menu and I am not sure if it was on the specials on the wall (I believe written in Mandrian)…$7.95. This dish was awesome prok perfectly fried leaving the meat inside still moist and tossed with a lightly spiced lemongrass sauce. Underneath the mound of small pork chops was the wok seared onions, garlic, ginger and jalapenos. All I can say is a definite try.

    Next dish is another recommendation by the same waitress in Carrollton. We new we wanted something green, but knew we didn’t want to shell out $10 for snow pea tips. We saw a plate of Water Spinach w/ Garlic go by and she said we didn’t want that. She recommended Chinese Broccoli w/ Chinese Black Mushrooms. Also not on the menu and she wispered that this was the cheapest green veggie. The dish came out in a hurry since there were only 2 other customers eating there. The broccoli was still crisp how I like it with a thin soy colored sauce tossed with garlic. The best thing on the plate though was the mushrooms. Now usually I avoid mushrooms because I don’t care for the straw mushrooms (most taste canned). But the black mushrooms were awesome, real meaty, and held the sauce nicely. Great veggie dish would recommend if you are hungry for a green veggie and want it to fill you up.

  3. donnaaries 12/05/2007 at 11:56 am #

    Thanks soulslinger for the recommendations. The lemongrass pork chop particularly piques my interest. Hopefully that will be available on my next visit since it is not a regular menu item.

  4. michaela0416 12/07/2007 at 9:59 am #

    In a funny coincidence, my Dad and stepmom just brought me a menu for a place they both raved about… First Chinese! I’m definitely looking forward to trying one of their locations (probably Richardson) as soon as I can get there. I’ll freely admit to being a Chinese food novice, so thanks for the tips on what to get and the delicious-looking pics. MMMmmmm, BBQ pork!

  5. Sara McQuaid 12/08/2007 at 7:42 am #

    My husband and I are regulars at 1st CBBQ and all the raves above are true. Our favorite dishes are the Crispy Chicken with Lemongrass, the Crispy Noodle with Pork and the Szechuan Eggplant. We will definitely try the above recommendations as well. We have been to China and this restaurant is as good as the fabulous food we had there. So glad to discover this site–thanks!

  6. kuidaore 12/24/2007 at 12:10 pm #

    We always go to the Richardson location and order:
    -Young Chow Fried Rice (our yardstick to gauge Chinese food)
    -BBQ Roast Pork Fried Noodle (better than combination)
    -Shredded Pork w/ Garlic Sauce

    We tried almost all their noodle dishes and liked the BBQ Pork one best, but the above photo of Beef Flat Noodle looks so good (I love Chow Fun) so I’ll give it another try.

    We also want to try Roast Duck, Shrimp Wonton Soup and all the dishes Soulslinger recommended.

    Lately, in our mind First Chinese has been overshadowed by Umeko and Yao Fuzi and we go there less often, but it’s still my most favorite Cantonese restaurant in DFW.

  7. donnaaries 03/13/2008 at 7:38 am #

    Had the lemongrass pork chop at the Arlington location last night. Definitely a new favorite and something we’ll be ordering again! Thanks for the rec, soulslinger.

  8. Kam 11/20/2009 at 1:30 pm #

    I’m looking for First Chinese BBQ wonton soup recipe. Does anyone have the recipes to wonton soup from First Chinese BBQ?


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