Jun 01, 2018 09:01AM
● By Ashley Madonna
Created inside a 1930s restored house, Cannon is filled with this sense of warmth with their plush furniture, bold wallpaper and phenomenal Guangdong-inspired dishes that stand out from other Chinese restaurants.
After executive chef Marcus Kopplin, who is also the executive chef at their sister restaurant – Shinjuku Station – took on Cannon’s culinary leadership position, he started playing around with new flavors.
“It amazes me sometimes what you can achieve with the products that are used in the Asian culture,” Kopplin says. “It can be so simple but the flavors that are created are so complex, dynamic and interesting.”
Even though Kopplin is now the executive chef at two thriving restaurants in Fort Worth just at 30, he never thought of cooking as a career path.
“I just kind of stumbled into it. I started cooking at home just for fun, and I really enjoyed it,” Kopplin explains. “I didn’t know much about it, so I decided to go into culinary school so I could learn all the different techniques and cuisines. Out of all the cultures and cuisines I learned and got introduced to in culinary school, I was really interested in Asian food.”
But these are not your typical heavy Asian-fusion dishes. Their light flavors and new ingredient blends on cultural favorites keep locals coming back and first-timers venturing across town to try their dishes. And diners can expect for these flavors to come from select, bright Chinese ingredients.
“We focus on using the freshest ingredients that we can find and use some local farms to source our produce,” executive chef Marcus Kopplin says.
So rest assured that their appetizers – like their Smashed Cucumber Salad, a traditional Chinese starter that pairs well with hotter foods – come out fresh. With unique offerings like Mushrooms in Soy Paper sautéed in a truffle broth and Fried Shrimp Balls served with Chinese cabbage, diners will want to grab a few plates for the table.
Their more intricate shared plates, like the Sweet & Sour Pork Ribs – St. Louis cut pork ribs in a char siu marinate – are cooked in house from scratch. The result is good home cooking, made in a family kitchen and meant to be shared…even if you may not want to.
“Our owner chose to restore a 1930s house, so that you would feel like you are over at your grandmother's house about to eat some traditional Cantonese food,” Kopplin says. “We focus on large plates that are intended to be shared with a group of people.”
To get a feel for their distinct take on Chinese cuisine, their dumplings are a must. Their Pork & Leek Dumplings in Red Oil, four dumplings made with rice wine vinegar, dried Serrano peppers and rock candy and served with sweet and sour red oil, are a staple in a diner’s visit. But their Beef Dumplings – seasoned with cumin, ginger and cilantro – and their Lamb Dumplings – seasoned with green onions, ginger and fennel – are just as savory.
Since Kopplin stepped into his role at Cannon, he’s put his own spin on the menu by slowly adding some new dishes – like their Shrimp Toast, which combines Chinese savory sausage, shrimp mousse, ginger, green onion and garlic and serves it up on a slice of Texas Toast.
To try out some of Kopplin’s new creations, ask about Cannon’s bar bites. These small servings paired with their specialty cocktails are often where the executive chef is trying out and planning on adding to their menu. And one sip of the Lychee Martini, made with a lychee puree, lemon and vodka, will have you relaxing into your chair like you would do in the comfort of your own home.
Everything about Cannon is bold – from their mismatched chairs to their colorful plates to their pronounced flavors, making it truly different than anything else in the Metroplex. It’s definitely worth making your way down to Near Southside for a quiet walk and a fantastic meal.
Cannon Chinese Kitchen
304 W. Cannon Street