Recap: Arabian Nights party at Turkish Cafe Lounge

Welcome to Turkish Cafe Lounge – a restautant offering gourmet Middle Eastern food, hookah, live music and entertainment in Plano. Located at 8412 Preston Rd., the restaurant is near Stonebriar Mall and other shopping areas of Plano/Frisco. If you’re looking to try something new, Turkish Cafe is the place to be! Continue Reading


There is no wonder why sizzling hot pot has 7 locations. They have 5 in the west coast area, 1 in Chicago, and now in Plano! If you have been wanting to try authentic Asian food. Here is the place. It isn’t too out of the norm of flavor. They do have some items that require an acquired taste but you can customize whatever you like in your pot.

So if you haven’t been to a Hunan-style place before, they ideally serve a pot of mixed meats, noodles, and veggies. The whole pot is customizable! They have a variety of meats to choose from such as bullfrog and snails but if you are aren’t feeling a little exotic then sticking with your familiar shrimp, beef, and beef tongue is just as good too! They serve it with a burner underneath the pot so that way your food stays warm, almost like a fajita platter you see at most Mexican restaurants. For the meats, I customized some of the best recommendations from the owner which included beef tongue, duck, and pork belly. For the veggie portion, the pot included potato, celery, bean sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. I wouldn’t have thought the celery would give off so much flavor but let me tell you, it did. I highly recommend adding lobster balls and crab sticks. They soak in all the spice and add a chewy texture to the dish. All the meats were perfectly cooked especially the quail egg. The quail egg added a nice creaminess to the dish. I had my dry pot spice level of 3 and the flavor of spicy. I recommend toning the spice level down a notch because I initially I thought I could handle a 4, but they suggested I try a 3. They assured me if it wasn’t enough spicy they could always add more. Boy, were they right! I was hitting my limits with a level 3!


Beware, this dish is spicy. This is a sautéed shredded beef with wild pepper. The first unexpected bite of spice made me tear up a bit. It may not look spicy but if you love spice, you will enjoy every bite of this dish. The cilantro stems add a surprising crunch to it. The pickled peppers go well together with the other spicy peppers.

When they offered us coconut drinks, I wasn’t expecting fresh coconut! With all the different types of spice that were going on in every dish, I was still able to clear my palate with this drink. It was very refreshing, it calmed down my taste buds after my mouth got a bit too heated.

This dish brought me back home. This is chef magic tofu. My father use to make this dish a lot back at home, but he didn’t add sauce on top. This dish is very soft and light but the red sauce makes a huge difference and adds the flavor it needs to it. Underneath the red sauce is a mixture of egg and tofu. Although it is red, it isn’t spicy at all. It has a touch of sweetness to it, but it doesn’t taste like sweet and sour sauce. I asked what’s in the sauce because I have never tasted anything like it but they said it was a secret so, you’ll have to try it yourself.


Down to one of my favorite parts. The dessert! Now, I am not a huge dessert fan due to some desserts being too sweet but I tell ya. This sticky rice cake creates the perfect ending to the entire course. You can certainly taste that they are handmade every morning. These pumpkin and taro (yellow and dark purple) sticky rice cakes are something that I will be grabbing on my way home from work. They make it like no other Asian restaurants. The owner informed us that their taro ingredient is from a natural source and is not enhanced or altered with purple food coloring like other places that sell taro. Each sticky rice cake has a hint of everything, a hint of taro or pumpkin flavor, a hint of sugar, all lightly coated with fresh coconut flakes. It’s not too sweet at all. If you have never tried sticky rice cake before, the texture is almost like you are biting into a lightly flaky crunch with the contents of a gelatinous/marshmallow texture with hints of flavor, sweetness, and freshness of the coconut.




(Disclaimer: My menu sampling was complimentary, and all opinions are my own.)


Laurel Tavern Joins Greenville Avenue Family

It seems like everyone – people and companies – is moving from The Golden State and making North Texas their home. Sure California knows how to party, but folks are realizing the future, and the economy, is bright deep in the heart of Texas.

That’s pretty much the story behind one of Dallas’ newest restaurants – Laurel Tavern. The restaurant group behind the concept came to town for the a social visit, and they decided to stay. I don’t blame them.


Laurel Tavern is a casual but elevated modern American bar and restaurant on the southern and ever evolving end of Greenville Avenue. It has an intentional focus on high quality but approachable food, cocktails and superior hospitality – or as the manager simply put it “it’s a bar with really good food.” You won’t find bad nachos or dry burgers here.

We had a chance to visit shortly after they opened for a lovely date night. It was a HOT Friday evening so cocktails were required upon arrival. I selected the Lost in Translation and my dining companion J of course opted for an Old Fashioned. My beverage was refreshing and not too sugary, and I loved the hint of savory warmth from the rosemary branch. Both cocktails prepared our palates nicely for the meal ahead.


As we sipped on our drinks, we took a gander at the menu to select our appetizers. No matter where we go, if pork belly is availalbe, my husband wants to try it. So we decided to give that a whirl along with the fish tacos, which I’m sure surprises no one.  The pork belly skewers were drizzled with maple glaze and were the perfect bite – crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside.


The fish tacos were topped with a papaya slaw, coconut curry, fresh mango and a pickled red onion. I am a fan of anything sandwiched in between a warm tortilla, and I’m always amazed by the unique flavor combinations that chefs are creating.


Moving along to the main entrees, we ordered the Steak & Fries and the Crispy Chicken Salad. The manager said they had to put a steak on their menu because people really seem to like their beef in Texas. Right you are sir, right you are.


The salad was topped with big nuggets of chicken breast and tons of fresh veggies full of texture and color – my perfect meal: healthy with a little bit of naughty. Everyone kept looking over and asking what I was eating. 


Now there’s one thing I have to give you a heads up on…..I mentioned at the beginning that they call this place a bar with really good food, which a lot of places say these days. What’s different about Laurel Tavern is that like a bar, diners order everything at the bar – drinks and food – and then someone brings your items to you at your table.  To be perfectly honest, that is probably my least favorite part of any “bar” experience. I didn’t like it when I was 22, and I’m not a fan at 32. Yes, our order was delivered in a timely fashion and the service was attentive, but I sure wish we could skip that part altogether.

I love when places like Laurel Tavern open. It’s an elevated, but accessible dining experience that is approachable to everyone. You don’t have to worry about an exorbitantly-priced menu, small entree portions or worse a pretentious atmosphere that makes you want to throw up the previously mentioned over-priced food.

Maybe it was our low cost of living and warm southern hospitality that brought them to Dallas, but I think their top notch menu will make them a staple and a regular spot for Dallasites looking for a good time.


(Disclaimer: Our dinner was complimentary; all opinions are my own. )