In any category of ethnic food, places that hew to their original tradition are usually better bets than the Americanized versions of same. But sometimes, ethnic and Americanized can be a good combo — as with Tang’s Pacific Bistro in North Fort Worth.
The five-year-old regional chain of three (with other locations in Southlake and Bedford) won’t stun diners with offerings like sea urchin or fried scorpion, but if you’re after some yummy lo mein or fried rice, Tang’s has a robust menu of affordable and familiar options.
Tang’s doesn’t do gourmet. Instead it does down-home Asian cooking, far better than any heat-lamp-drenched buffet joint. The all-Asia menu sprawls from egg foo yong (basically a Far East quiche) to mu shu to kung pao to, oddly enough, boiled Cajun seafood. So when the sign says Pacific bistro, it means all over the Pacific and, apparently, the Gulf of Mexico.
After a brief wait spent snacking on complimentary fried wonton chips and sweet-and-sour sauce, my guest and I got started on a set of eight pork dumplings. These mouthwaterers were perhaps the highlight of the meal. Steamed to just the right consistency and flavor without getting mushy, they were gone almost instantaneously. At a little more than $5 per serving, the sticky little suckers could easily disappear by the dozen.
Then one of our attentive waitresses (at least four stopped by our table at various points) delivered the egg foo yong flanked by a ramekin of creamy mushroom sauce. The three enormous egg patties were packed with peas, broccoli, carrots, onions, and just the right amount of sinful flavor without bombarding you with sodium. Whoever made the mushroom spread, on the other hand, seemed to have gone a little overboard on the soy sauce, but the side still agreed nicely with the wonderful egg concoctions. I’d never had egg foo yong before, but now I plan to keep it high atop my Asian food list.
The pad Thai chicken beckoned with its alluring sprinkles of peanuts atop white slabs of chicken. The dish didn’t exactly wow, nor did it have any noticeable drawbacks — the bird was not overly chewy or greasy, but it also didn’t offer any noteworthy texture or flavor. The noodles were cooked just right, meaning they also weren’t too chewy or soggy, but they too lacked pizzazz. The peanutty goodness certainly shone through, but it failed to set the dish apart from what you might find at any random Asian joint.
What was exemplary was the service. Our various waitresses all smiled widely and kept our drinks filled. Tang’s atmosphere — think middle-America strip-mall café with a small bar — isn’t there to blow you away, which suits the food: unpretentious, affordable, and absolutely agreeable.
Our three-dish meal cost about $20. At these prices, it’s difficult to overlook Tang’s the next time you find yourself hungry and cash-strapped and within reasonable distance of any one of these bistros.
Tang’s Pacific Bistro
8653 N Beach St, Ste 237, FW. 817-741-8100. 11am-9:30pm Sun-Thu, 11am-10pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Dumplings ……………… $5.39
Pad Thai chicken ……. $8.29
Egg foo yong …………. $7.69