Sincerity is the word that comes to mind when you meet Joe Chow. Living the American Dream, Chow immigrated to the United States in 1979 to attend school in Durant, Oklahoma, and to eventually shape the way we look at Chinese cuisine.
Joe was passing through Addison one day and saw the perfect location for his fledgling idea. In a vacant strip mall with only one resident, Joe opened May Dragon on July 21,1986. With an interior designed by four architects, the restaurant consists of small dining areas that encompass an intimate dining experience surrounded by exquisite artwork and a courteous and attentive staff.
When you walk into May Dragon at 4848 Belt Line at Inwood in Addison, you quickly notice the attention to detail. Joe is usually there to greet you and makes a point to know all of his customers. Customers leave saying "See you tomorrow" or "see you next week" and have affectionately nicknamed May Dragon "Joe’s Place."
One of May Dragon’s most notable customers was Chuck Norris, who frequented the restaurant often during his stay in Dallas while filming Walker, Texas Ranger. Chow and May Dragon catered many of Norris’s private events at his home, as well as his successful charity events. Mr.Norris even plugged the restaurant when he was profiled for the cover story of American Way magazine, found in front of every passenger on American Airlines airplanes. Travelers all over the globe learned of May Dragon’s exquisite cuisine and friendly, yet sophisticated atmosphere. Mr. Norris, even to this day, sends Joe and May Dragon a Christmas card.
The key to Joe’s success is cutting-edge, award winning cuisine. You cannot think of Chinese cooking without the staples of sesame chicken and lettuce wraps. Thank Joe Chow for both of these delectable creations. Joe created sesame chicken – chicken deep fried and sautéed with orange peels in hot sauce and topped with sesame seeds – for the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce Cooking Contest in 1987 sponsored by Pilgrim’s Pride. Out of 46 restaurants competing, Joe Chow and May Dragon took home "Most Creative Cuisine" and "Most Professional Presentation" trophies. The plaques are still hanging on the wall to commemorate the day that Joe changed the Chinese culinary world forever.
Joe’s innovative approach to cooking also improved a traditional favorite: the lettuce wrap. The lettuce wrap originated as an appetizer made of pigeon that was served solely at banquets and parties. Joe began experimenting with shrimp, chicken and pork and the idea was born. Restaurants all over the nation are now profiting from Joe’s "How can we make it better?" attitude.
Joe stresses that"a good chef will follow the need of the customers." All dishes must be cutting edge to keep the masses interested and coming back for more. His Chef, Mr. Wu, has been with May Dragon for many years. He prepares all meals at May Dragon with the least amount of oil as possible and with absolutely no MSG. The restaurant tries to use as many all-natural ingredients as possible to ensure flavor and quality.
An attentive and experienced staff enhances the experience that is May Dragon. His manager, Chi Chi, is about to celebrate her eighth year with the establishment. The rest of the team ensures a relaxing and enjoyable dining experience resulting in the only Four Star rating for a Chinese restaurant in the Dallas area. Visited yearly for review, May Dragon continues to maintain quality service,award-winning cuisine and a welcome atmosphere for all of its guests.
To aid his customers in finding the perfect meal, Joe includes descriptions of all 130 dishes in each menu so his guests better understand what they will be eating.If something you like is not on the menu, just tell Joe. He will gladly find squid, octopus or even pickled jellyfish to keep his guests happy. Joe’s approach to customer service is "the customer is always right," and he and his staff do not waiver from this philosophy. "Even if a customer is rude, they leave [May Dragon] knowing that we treated them with kindness and respect. In most cases, they even return," Joe says.
Joe plans on increasing the special events aspect of the restaurant this year. With an expansion in 1994, Joe added a banquet room capable of holding 120 guests.Complete with a sound system, a 120-inch projection screen perfect for in-house karaoke, and even a massage chair for those stressful days, the room is perfect for corporate and private events as well as organization meetings and awards presentations. Upcoming marketing will focus on the room and its potential.
Not only is Joe a successful restaurateur, but he is also the only Asian immigrant ever to be elected to a City Council office in Addison. "I walked door to door twice and wore out two pairs of shoes," Joe exclaims. It evidently worked. Joe had the highest number of votes of any council member. Joe wishes to bring his wisdom and business experience to help the prospering city of Addison and its 15,000 residents. He is also the only member in the restaurant business on the Council. He hopes to use his position to better represent those in the restaurant industry.
When not operating a four-star restaurant and representing Addison residents at City Council meetings, Joe is a board member for the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, where he served as past President. He is also active in several business organizations,an insurance agent, a Realtor, and a father of four.
This king of marketing is truly a sincere and warm businessman. When you visit May Dragon,say "Hi!" to Joe, and thank him for that Sesame Chicken!