As a Taiwanese-American born and raised in Dallas, Andrew Chen’s exposure to Chinese and Taiwanese food was limited to small enclaves in immigrant communities and family visits to Taipei. After graduating from college in 2008, Chen picked up a job at Ten Times Cellar where he learned the wine process from their vineyard in West Texas to their tasting room in the Lakewood neighborhood in East Dallas
In 2013, Chen and his friends flirted with the idea of opening a bar. But after crunching the numbers, they realized that they needed to scale back. They still wanted their concept to accomplish two things—to fill a hole in the Dallas-Fort Worth market and to reflect something that was unique to them and their experiences. Chen tapped into his memories of Taiwan night markets and the answer was clear: They would open a Chinese street food concept. But first, Chen needed to learn how to hand-pull noodles. He found an expert, and for 90 days, he taught Chen the ins and outs of noodle-making. Chen opened Monkey King Noodle Company in 2013: a 300-square-foot kiosk in Deep Ellum. At the time, his first location was one of only a few spots to find Chinese food in a 20-mile radius. Now Chen’s business has expanded to three storefronts and two food hall kiosks. His beef noodle soup recipe, directly from his grandmother, brings a taste of Taiwan to North Texas.