Julian’s Asian Diner
If you’ve arrived in East Texas after spending years within a stone’s throw of a dozen restaurants, you’re probably missing the likes of popular chains such as P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and its sister-restaurant Pei Wei. But, resourceful as always, East Texas has its own version and it’s very good!
Julian’s Asian Diner has the appearance and vibe of an upscale, contemporary restaurant and attracts everyone from families with young children to the coat-and-tie/high-heels-date crowd. But, at it’s heart, Julian’s has a welcoming “come as you are” feel.
It should be noted that Julian’s is a busy place and they typically don’t take reservations unless your party is six or more. But, per the hostess’ suggestion, we called when we were about 15 minutes away and they had us seated just moments after we arrived.
Our party of four began the evening with Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Shanghai Spicy Wings. Both served all four of us (with some left over). The Wraps offered a light beginning to the dining experience and the Spicy Wings were moist, meaty, and palatable even to those who don’t necessarily prefer the heat.
For entrees, my bride and I went with Mongolian Beef and Honey Seared Chicken. Each came with a side of brown rice, which was the perfect consistency; not too sticky and not too mushy.
Now, I’m not usually one who’s impressed by “presentation.” I’m a food guy — I like to eat and would be fine eating a steak off of a paper plate. But I must say, the folks at Julian’s do a beautiful job of plating the food.
The Mongolian Beef was perfect. Tender beef, sliced thin and perfectly complimented by scallions in a soy sauce that had a hint of garlic. The Honey Seared Chicken is EXACTLY the same as you’d get at Pei Wei. Lightly fried and drizzled in a honey soy sauce that also had a hint of onion.
Portions were right-on. And while soft drinks were a little high ($2.25 for a glass of sweet tea, for example), the bill came to about $36 per couple. Service was terrific, atmosphere was outstanding, and the food was really, really good. I’d say it’s really one of the better date-night bargains in East Texas.
So if you’re looking for all the comforts of Pei Wei with the nouveau features of P.F. Chang’s, save yourself a trip to the big city and check out Julian’s.
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