Teddy Wong’s Dumplings & Wine, 812 W Rosedale St, FW. 817-349-8965. 10am-9pm Sun, 11am-10pm Mon-Thu,11am-11pm Fri-Sat.
Teddy Wong’s plunged into Fort Worth’s not-very-crowded Chinese-cuisine market this month, and if you’re still mourning the demise of Le’s Wok, Cannon Chinese Kitchen, or Camp Bowie’s Wan Fu (closed a decade or more) or even pining for the days when Szechuan ruled, you have every reason to be hopeful. The restaurateurs behind Teddy’s modified the building formerly occupied by Le’s on Rosedale, but the location is pretty much all the two restaurants share. If one was a little bit rock ’n’ roll, this one is decidedly country, and while Teddy Wong’s menu doesn’t reflect the odd fusion of Chinese culture with 1950s Western décor and C&W music –– you sort of have to experience it to believe it — the place’s interior and drink menu say xiǎng shòu, pahdner!
Teddy Wong’s offers a lovely and respectful 6-ounce glass of your choice of Italian or French rose for a mere $5 daily. The first time I stopped in, the rainy weather made the rose and a bowl of hot-and-sour soup sound tempting. On the menu, the soup is marked with one of those little red pepper symbols, theoretically indicating some uber-spiciness. Sadly, both the expected sour vinegary-ness and the epiglottal-tingling spice were absent in the bowl I had. The soup was plenty peppery, but that didn’t translate to flavor. Or heat. Or sourness.
As a counterpoint, the simple, delicately pan-fried scallion pancake delivered perfect chewiness and golden crust, with the tiniest bit of bite from the green onions. The doughy, bread-like pancake isn’t something you often find on a Chinese menu in Cowtown, which is a shame. The French rose was fantastic, and the dainty price tag pretty much makes all day a happy hour.
My second visit with a couple of companions proved to be a little more what my taste buds wanted. The delightfully slurpy steamed-pork soup dumplings were like tiny inverse bread bowls — delicate, full of filling, and just ideal to start a meal. Steamed dumplings come out in the requisite bamboo basket and can also be ordered pan-fried, but there were too many other choices to double down on the pillowy goodness.
The mapo tofu, also marked on the menu with a red pepper, was indeed one of the spiciest dishes I’ve ever tasted. The creamy tofu in a brown sauce packed a tongue-scorching flavor that came and went thanks to a side of sticky rice. During cold and COVID season, it’s possible that Teddy Wong’s mapo tofu might cure your RSV, flu, or sinus infection. The plate was bedecked only in sliced scallions, and I found myself wanting some carrots or onion slices for a little bit of balance. However, when I did a little research, Teddy Wong’s version is true to the classic recipe.
If you want carrots and peas, order the fried rice. While it might be a mechanism for using up a family’s day-old grains, the smoky, salty goodness of Teddy’s beef fried rice was a cut above here. There was plenty to share among our table of four.
And if you don’t feel like wine, there’s an interesting sake menu. It seems antithetical to serve a Japanese beverage in a Chinese restaurant, but you could say the same thing about French or Italian wine in such a place. Drinking the Izumihyokan was like smoking an unfiltered clove cigarette circa 1988 –– don’t try this at home, kids. The slightly cloudy, extremely potent rice wine was a little much for me, but the world traveler at our table liked it.
We just don’t have enough successful Chinese restaurants in Fort Worth to compare someone’s grandma’s (or crazy uncle’s) recipe with what’s targeted to Anglo taste buds, but just like the classic Johnny Cash on the speakers, Teddy Wong’s walks that line with aplomb.
Teddy Wong’s Dumplings & Wine
Mapo tofu $14
Beef fried rice $13
Pan-fried scallion pancake $12
Pork soup dumplings $10
Hot and sour soup $8
Izumihyokan Honjozo sake $16