One of the most popular restaurants in Dallas' Lake Highlands is about to get a new sibling, this one specializing in Chinese food. Called Hei Hei American-Chinese, it's a new concept from LH Eats Restaurant Group, the hospitality company that opened beloved neighborhood restaurant Cedar & Vine in 2017.
Hei Hei (pronounced "hey hey") is their effort to fulfill what they saw was a very real desire for solid American Chinese food, with a special focus on takeout and to-go. It's going into the old Atomic Pie space at 9660 Audelia Road #117 and is targeted for a mid-Summer opening.
LH Eats comes from Sam Howard and Brandon Carter, two Lake Highlands natives whose goal has always been to bring great restaurants to the neighborhood.
"I've lived here nearly my entire life and when we were growing up, we didn't have a lot of great options," Carter says. "Back then it was a dry area, so you could only have a bar if you offered memberships."
Located at Walnut Hill and Audelia, Cedar & Vine has been a phenomenon with its approachable but refined menu, featuring staples like pan-seared Atlantic salmon, 44 Farms flatiron steak frites, and their popular fried Brussels sprouts, plus a full bar with cocktails, beer and wine on tap, in an upscale yet casual atmosphere.
Beyond their desire to create another dining destination, Hei Hei is also a post-COVID creation.
"With COVID-19, there's been an evolution towards to-go, delivery, and fast-casual concepts," Carter says. "That's one of the reasons we're also introducing a Cedar & Vine food truck, which we'll use for catering and private events, sort of like a portable restaurant."
"We thought it would be good to diversify and have a restaurant whose cuisine lent itself to that to-go model," he says. "But we also felt like it was something the neighborhood genuinely needed. We made a list of what the neighborhood wants and that includes good Chinese food."
To clarify, that's American Chinese.
"It's unabashedly American-Chinese. We're not pretending to be authentic in any way," he says. "We're putting 'American' in the name to let people know that it is in no way authentic. It's the Chinese food that a lot people grew up with, but with a refined twist."
One idea: a reworking of crab rangoon, a dish that is ordinarily a fried wonton filled with a tiny morsel of cream cheese and crab, which they're envisioning as a dip.
"We'll be changing things up to make them fresher," Carter says. "You'd be getting exactly the same dish but with good-quality ingredients and a slightly different flavor profile."
They also like American Chinese for its bounty of vegetables, to serve the growing number of people who want to eat healthy and/or vegetarian.
They're shooting for June/July and are doing construction on the space including adding a dedicated space for to-go only. It'll also have a full bar.
"We've had people on countless occasions say that they'd love see a new Chinese place in Lake Highlands," he says. "That's the whole idea of LH Eats — to provide restaurants that the community wants."