Andrew Chen and his friends, like most 20-year-olds, wanted to open a bar. They realized any venture would need a food component to gain traction.
“It’s me, one of my cousins and a good buddy that spent time in Asia, so we have all these really fun memories of Chinese street food,” Chen says. “Being able to take something, walk and eat at the same time.”
Since Dallas doesn’t typically lend itself to pedestrian walking culture, they decided to open a restaurant in Deep Ellum where they could create the street food experience.
“Street food is also easy to carry out, so it’s stuff that can travel well,” Chen says. “Stuff that you can heat up the next day and it tastes even better.”
Chen and his partners stuck to a very small, distinct menu of noodles. They created Monkey King Noodle Company, and Deep Ellum wayfarers quickly embraced the eatery.
“I think without their support, we obviously would have failed a long time ago,” he says.
When COVID-19 hit, Monkey King Noodle Company’s food model made it easier for the restaurant to adapt to take-out only. As restaurants slowly reopened, Chen and his partners expanded to Lake Highlands.
A friend in real estate mentioned a burger stand looking to get out of its lease. Chen, almost jokingly, said that if his friend found other backers, he would be in.
“Lake Highlands, being so close-knit and tightly knit, he found a couple of other people and we were able to gather what we needed,” Chen says. “We got this thing signed in July.”
The restaurateur realized a lot of the large orders through Uber Eats and Caviar ended up in the family-oriented neighborhoods. The second location opens Thursday, Oct. 15 at full-service hours.
Chen is the chief noodle maker and cooks everything from scratch. Customer favorites include the Spicy Garlic Peanut Noodles with wok-toasted peanuts and garlic, house chili oil and hints of sesame and soy. It’s served chilled over noodles with fresh cilantro and green onions.
The authentic pork dumplings are house-made, hand-rolled wrappers with pork, napa cabbage and a savory garlic chive filling served with Taiwanese soy sauce. The restaurant has also added different fried rice entrees as they expand to new locations.
“We love it if people come eat with us, have a beer, hang out,” he says.
Monkey King Noodle Company, 6770 Abrams Rd., Suite 110