TIAN TIAN - PLAIN CHINESE FOOD IN A GLOSSY SETTING
Updated: Dec 27, 2021
by Andrew Chalk
This high finish-out restaurant at the corner of Frankford and Preston is not, contrary to some descriptions, a Dim Sum restaurant. Dim sum items are just one fold of the extensive menu. Most of it is familiar Chinese dishes that are also on, for example, the Pei Wei menu.
Tian Tian is most well known for their Peking Duck. We will cover that in a different review. Most guests on our visit appeared to not have ordered it so the restaurant is not exclusively dedicated to that famous dish. For our Sunday brunch me and The Moll chose House Duck Soup ($6) that arrived looking like it was fish maw soup, so light was it. In fact, the essence is the duck stock, which did come through in the tasting. A little chili flake sauce enlivened it.
The best dish in its own right may be the Cucumber Salad ($6). Ties of cucumber marinated in chili sauce. Shrimp egg roll ($5) would be its closest competitor. Two cigars of crispy batter stuffed with shrimp. Stuff it into some sweet and sour sauce or hot mustard and the sweet, crunchy batter infuses with the mealy shrimp stuffing that leaves you thinking about ordering more. There are only two per order making this appetizer stand out as one of the most expensive, for the amount you get, on the menu.
Scallion Pancake ($9) had me wishing that a western abomination like salt was on the table. The dough craved seasoning and the scallions were dead, devoid of flavor. Again, dip generously in chili sauce to render it weapons-grade.
The same unseasoned flavorlessness afflicted the dumplings Shanghai Xiaolongbao ($8). I started to wonder if some of these items are purchased pre-made and just warmed to order.
Stir-fried Beef with Ginger and Scallion ($15) was loaded with flavor. Combined with the Vegetable Delight ($10) we put together a good main course. It was mainstream Chinese, the type you can find all over town, but tasty nonetheless.
As we finished around 12:30pm there were people waiting for tables in what is quite a large establishment. So Tian Tian has a following (although, apparently, not a web site). Maybe the Peking Duck. Most of the customers were Chinese so maybe I missed something important that they were doing right. That, or this is a Chinese food desert. The competition for those who are prepared to drive is formidable: Go to the north and within 10 miles in Plano are Sun Lok Kee BBQ, Wu Wei Din, Taste of Peking, 369 Chinese BBQ, and Yao Fuzi. All of note and all my preference to Tian Tian. Eastwards is a slew of Chinese restaurants in Richardson, including the notable First Chinese BBQ.
It should be said that service was highly professional and attentive.
Unfortunately, Tian Tian has a full bar. Unfortunate, because the mixed-drink license precludes them from offering BYOB (such is the state of state law). Their wine selection is the usual ‘appalling’ that is too common around Dallas, so water would be our drink of choice.
Overall prices seemed high relative to the competition, maybe due to Preston Road rents. Our brunch for two was $64. Not outrageous, but for all but locals better choices abound.
FTC Disclosure: I paid my own bill and dined anonymously. I have no business connection with this establishment.