Food & Drink

Andrew Chen, owner of Monkey King Noodle Company shares his start, inspiration, and why you need to explore Deep Ellum

Everything you need to know about one of Dallas' favorite Asian eats.

Rosa Oh
Posted on Jun 29, 2018

Andrew is a Texas native, traveler and foodie. His indelible childhood memories in Taipei, spent savoring street foods in night markets, struck inspiration and lead to a career in the kitchen. From restaurateur to learning how to make noodles from scratch, Andrew's focus on using traditional methods - and his grandmother's recipes! -  has made him the king of noodles.


How did Monkey King Noodle Company (MKNC) get started?

The idea started while I was working at Times Ten Cellars in East Dallas. My cousin and I thought it would be a great idea to open a bar, and the idea evolved into a food concept. It was originally intended as a food truck with a dozen of our favorite Taiwanese street foods.


Where did the name Monkey King come from?

I wanted something that was unique and I loved the cartoons as a kid. Monkey King was a famous folktale of a rebellious monkey with the ability to transform himself to battle his adversaries.


You started MKNC as a food stand in Deep Ellum, and expanded to a sit-down space. How has the experience changed for your guests?

We love Deep Ellum and how the neighborhood has really taken off the last couple of years. When we had the stand, the kitchen was literally the entire space. With the new building, we still kept that Deep Ellum vibe with indoor dining. The space is open and airy, and there's even more space outside to enjoy the food while overhearing music from one of the nearby music spots.


What's unique about your menu?

I think our uniqueness comes from being old school in our cooking methods as possible. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel or revolutionize rather a straightforward approach without MSG in our cooking.

Noodles and dumplings have been our popular go-to dishes. We've introduced street foods common in Taiwan and China like fried scallion pancakes and Taiwanese chicken nuggets - they have been a huge hit. Some crowd favorites are the beef noodle soup, soup dumplings, Dan Dan noodles, and wontons in chili sauce.


What is the best thing about being in Deep Ellum?

There's an amazing sense of community in Deep Ellum. I firmly believe that Deep Ellum was a major factor in our success. From the first day we opened, the neighborhood has embraced us and we've been incredibly appreciative.


How does Monkey King fit into the Deep Ellum food scene?

Greater Dallas is to Deep Ellum as conventional Chinese restaurants are to Monkey King. I think we're both an eclectic subset of a broader picture. I don't think there's a neighborhood in Dallas that has as much pedestrian accessibility, demographic diversity, and eccentricity.


What are your favorite recommendations for a first-time visitor in Deep Ellum?

You could easily spend an entire day in Deep Ellum with concert venues and the dining scene. I enjoy Vietnamese coffee at Bobbadiction in theafternoon, Three Links on a nice day, and Cane Rosso for a dog-friendly patio.