Pei Wei, Slightly Revamped (Secret Recipe Asian Bistro)

28 Dec

I live in a suburban anomaly, a zipcode without any Chinese takeout places.  Zip, nada, none. 

The idea boggles the mind.  It is downright un-American.

The closest place where I can get an order of sugar-glazed sesame orange honey chicken/beef/non-threatening bite-sized boneless meat (should I ever get the craving) is Panda Express.  Though Americanized Chinese cuisine is not a regular part of my diet, I feel for my neighbors who appreciate their trusty Chinese takeout.  Life is not good when your sole choice for General Tsao’s originated in a mall.  Where do you go when you want your Broccoli Beef cooked to order and not slopped down cafeteria-style? 

Enter Secret Recipe Asian Bistro to the rescue.  Open now for about three months, Secret Recipe occupies a storefront in a shiny new strip mall on Hebron Parkway just west of Old Denton Road.  Order at the counter, grab a number, get your drinks/condiments/fortune cookies, and wait for your cooked-to-order plate to arrive at the table.  The logistical flow of the restaurant is confusing with the line at the order counter dividing the dining room into two halves, but everyone is familiar and comfortable with the routine (thanks Pei Wei for the mass training!) 

The menu is familiar, too.  It is essentially a revamped Pei Wei.  Similar pricing ($6-$9 per plate), similar options (choose the style of the dish then choose your protein from chicken, tofu, beef, shrimp, or scallops), and definitely similar customer base.  A few options from the menu venture into southeastern Asian cuisine more boldly than Pei Wei, such as the Singapore Curry Laksa Noodle Soup ($7.95) I tried on this visit:

secretrecipe1.jpg

Laksa is a Chinese-Malay fusion noodle dish popular in Singapore and Malaysia.  Of the various versions of laksa, curry laksa is the most common (laksa usually means curry laksa unless specified otherwise).  A standard bowl of curry laksa consists of a curry-coconut milk broth with bean sprouts, fried tofu puffs, slices of fish cake, shrimp or chicken, and thick rice noodles.  Sometimes sliced hard boiled egg is also added.  Secret Recipe’s rendition of Curry Laksa doesn’t skimp on any of the standard ingredients (including the sliced hard boiled egg) but utilizes an eggy wheat-based noodle instead of thick vermicelli.  The dish was a vibrant bowl of noodle soup comfort, a pleasant unexpected surprise in an all-too-familiar setup.  Though the curry-coconut flavor was evident, I could’ve done with a thicker, richer, more assertive broth.

My partner went with a dish that Secret Recipe’s kitchen probably cranks out more often, Orange Zest Beef ($8.25):

secretrecipe2.jpg

The beef was glazed nicely for a crispy exterior, but the meat was a bit chewey.  Snap peas were vividly green and crunchy, freshly grated orange zest tickled the nostrils, but the red chiles are more for decor than flavor.  Heat factor was definitely more Iowa than Texas.

Secret Recipe is a trusty neighborhood joint for takeout or casual dine-in.  Ingredients are fresh and service is polite and quick.  If it’s pan-Asian a la Pei Wei you’re looking for, Secret Recipe is a solid choice.  Try the Southeast Asian dishes if you’re tired of glazed white meat chicken, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Rating: 3 / 5

Secret Recipe Asian Bistro
1404 W Hebron Pkwy
Carrollton, TX 75010

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9 Responses to “Pei Wei, Slightly Revamped (Secret Recipe Asian Bistro)”

  1. foodczar 12/28/2007 at 4:35 pm #

    Donna is back from her holiday and better than ever!!! Yah!!!! Please share postings from your holiday adventures as all your admirers are dying to read them.
    Question: I take it by your review that a Pei Wei used to be located at this location. I’d be interested in what your favorite dish at Pei Wei was???
    By the way, my dear, I was not talking about you when I accused people of “ranting” on Pegnews. In my opinion, you never rant. You “quibble”. Like myself on occasion.
    Thanks again, my dear. You rock!
    Food Czar

  2. donnaaries 12/28/2007 at 6:31 pm #

    Czar, actually, I meant that Secret Recipe slightly revamped the Pei Wei concept. There was never a Pei Wei in this location. When I go to Pei Wei, my usual order is the Japanese Udon Noodles with Tofu. I don’t like too much sugar in my Asian food and that’s one of the few dishes at Pei Wei that’s not overly laden with sugar.

    I didn’t venture anywhere too exciting for the holidays (Houston), but will be doing a write up of the food highlights soon. Great job on your end cranking out all those wine reviews!

  3. foodczar 12/28/2007 at 8:27 pm #

    Thanks as always, Donna, and congratulations for making Top Restaurant Reviews of Pegnews! You deserve it!!! Look at my own blog for my own Top Ten Restaurant (and soon to be Top 5 Wine) Reviews for 2007. What about a Donna Cooks Top Ten list, Hmmm??? Call it: Donna’s Delites!!!! Please??????

  4. Tara 01/14/2008 at 6:40 pm #

    Secret Recipe is a wonderful place to eat and the food is phenomonal(sp?).

  5. javboy58 01/26/2008 at 9:37 am #

    Does anyone know how Pei Wei prepares the tofu in the udon noodle dish? I don’t generally care for this restaurant, as it’s not really authentic and there are hundres of small noodle houses in the Austin area that are far superior (and cheaper), but they have a good thing going with this particular tofu and I’d like to get an insight on the pre.

    Thanks

  6. Gordon 01/26/2008 at 11:52 am #

    And another one I gotta check out. This one is down the street from my Church, so maybe I’ll check it out tomorrow after service.

  7. donnaaries 04/17/2008 at 9:33 pm #

    Called up Secret Recipe for takeout tonight and tried the blazing udon noodles with chicken and shrimp. Nothing particularly “blazing” (not spicy at all) about the dish, but udon noodles were nice and fat and the lighter-style sauce was very tasty. There were crunchy green beans and a few pieces of mushroom in the noodle dish as well. Not that I don’t like green beans, but I wish they would do this dish with a nice tender protein like scallops and use spinach and more mushrooms, something silky and smooth like the udon noodles, not crunchy and out of place like green beans.

  8. Candy 05/19/2009 at 9:19 pm #

    One of the worse place I ate at. I’m sticking with Lion City on Malay food. I wish Penang is still in biz.

  9. Adriana 07/18/2013 at 1:52 am #

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