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Review: First Chinese BBQ in Haltom City

First Chinese BBQ 5310 E. Belknap St. Haltom City 817-834-1888 www.firstchinesebbq.com Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Sunday

Posted 5:58pm on Tuesday, Jan. 08, 2013

I know what you’re thinking: Another Chinese restaurant? Slow your egg roll. First Chinese BBQ isn’t just another Chinese restaurant. It’s the purveyor of sweet, marinated meats, since 1982.

The original spot is in Richardson, with a few others scattered about, including Carrollton and Plano. They’ve even managed to creep into Austin.

I visited the branch in Haltom City, and found a vast menu, with dishes of all kinds. Beef dishes here, chicken dishes there, soups, noodles, fried rice, and of course, barbecued stuff.

And that’s what they’re known for, marinated chow.

There’s no sense in making it the finale; simply open with the barbecue pork and roast duck ($9.25) plate, two succulent meats. The pork is tender and sweet, like candy; the duck, served on the bone, has that distinct fatty flavor.

There’s also marinated chicken ($7.25), and marinated pig intestine ($6.50) if you feel like showing off. (Maybe next time.)

Soups are served generously — one bowl is enough for two. We liked the duck drumstick noodle soup ($6.50) and the asparagus crab meat soup ($5.50). The first includes a mild duck-flavored broth with a jumbo piece of meat. The other soup we simply called “the essence of asparagus,” despite having no visible signs of the green stalks in the creamy broth.

There’s no shortage of seafood at First Chinese BBQ. The shrimp, scallop and fresh squid with vegetables ($9.50) lets you sample a few pieces at once. Meat is served with crisp vegetables, including broccoli, carrots and bamboo shoots. The squid, scored with an artistic design we found fetching, isn’t nearly as tender as the pork or duck, though.

The shrimp, on the other hand, has a slightly salty and honey-like flavor that’s more in tune with the other meats — an unexpected but gladly accepted flavor surprise.

The two showstoppers were the lemongrass ribs ($8.75) and chicken soft noodle ($7.75) dishes.

The ribs are fried and peppery, with a subtle flavor of lemongrass and a texture with visible specks from the lemongrass rub.

The chicken soft noodle ($7.75) plate includes scrambled eggs, onions, sprouts and ridiculously tender chicken — the most tender of all the meat we tried. The dish is piled with thin egg noodles, cooked perfectly and powered by the scent and flavor of onions. Frankly, I don’t care how stupid I look with a bundle of long noodles hanging from my mouth.

As great as the food is at First Chinese BBQ, it’s actually the service that made the most startling impression. Friendly and cosmically fast, the staff at this place doesn’t fool around.

Our first dish came out – no joke – within five minutes of our putting down our menus. It was steamy and fresh, and the other dishes were flying out shortly after, most of them before we could even break apart our chopsticks.

So really, First Chinese BBQ is the purveyor of sweet, cosmically fast, marinated meats.

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