When we lived in Dubai, The Husband and I yearned for good East Asiand and Southeast Asian food. There wasn’t an abundance of it as compared to the South Asian and Middle Eastern resturants. Understandably so, especially that there is a skew of the expat population to South Asians and Middle Easterners.
And so, when we arrived here in the US, we were ecstatic. We landed in Atlanta’s East / Southeast Asian food paradise. And when we moved to Texas, we were relieved to have access to a lot of our beloved East / Southeast Asian cuisines.
I’m more than happy that we have a good choice of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese restaurants. But I never expected to find authentic Singaporean food here.
Lion City Chinese Cafe is a bare bones Singaporean Chinese restaurant manned by an auntie and uncle. Auntie in the kitchen and uncle at the cashier.
So don’t expect great table service. Its a two (sometimes three) person restaurant, so get a grip. Grab a copy of the menu from the cashier (or if you’re lucky, there’d be one on the table) and take a peek at the daily specials written on the white board mounted on the wall, then place your order with Uncle. You’d be lucky if he’d hand you utensils, but, in that’s not the case, take it from the right side of the restaurant, where you’d find pitchers of drinking water, a percolator with hot water and stacks of styrofoam cups.
Oh, find the bags of green tea in one of the drawers. Dispense hot water from the percolator into your styro cup, dunk the tea bag and wait for your order and tea with patience.
The Husband and I have had several meals there, but this would be the ideal meal to have in Lion City Chinese Cafe.
Order them chicken wings. Is chicken wings a Singaporean dish? Errrm, I don’t think so. But Lion City does some damn good chicken wings. They come out of Auntie’s kitchen crispy, salty and steaming hot. Be careful not to shove it in your mouth as soon as it gets to the table. Wait a few minutes for it to cool and then dive in.
The Husband says that this even matches my pick for the best fried chicken in the world. I disagree, but you be the judge.
Then order your choice of carbs. It has to be rice AND noodles. My pick would be the salted fish and chicken fried rice and chaw kway teow.
They do make a mean salted fish and chicken fried rice. That for the life of me, I can never cook at home. Like I’ve never attempted to cook bagoong (i.e. fermented shrimp paste) too. Be forewarned of the funky perfume, one that us Southeast Asians cannot resist. The rice has very salty bits of dried fish that I just can’t get enough of. I think I even can finish the entire order that’s good for 4 people! Gasp!
Of course, order the char kway teow, which is my favorite Singaporean noodle dish. Thick rice noodles, smothered in sweet, salty soy sauce, topped with plump shrimp, chicken, mung bean sprouts and scrambled egg. If you love spicy, do tell Uncle to tell Auntie make it spicy.
For the main dish, order a plate of hainanese chicken rice. As you do in Singapore. Whoops, it comes with rice. As us, Asians, can’t get enough rice, you see.
I used to hate Hainanese chicken rice as I’ve had a malansa (i.e. fishy / not fresh) version of it. But Lion City does a great rendition of this iconic Singaporean dish. Don’t forget to dip the chicken into the fiery sambal.
On weekends, they also cook other Singaporean dishes like Nasi Lemak and chili crab, which apparently does run out.
So come on in to Lion City Chinese Cafe early. Beat the rush and eat your favorite Singaporean dishes. Note that this is a CASH ONLY place. So don’t forget to stash the cash in your wallet before heading over.
P.S. You can order the chicken wings to-go. Uncle places them inside a brown paper bag. Leave the brown bag open, so as to prevent steaming to keep the skin ultra crispy. Enjoy!
Lion City Chinese Cafe
2109 W Parker Rd
Plano, TX 75023
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 11AM to 830PM
+1 (972) 867-8803