Remember the old Bluth family adage: There's always money in the banana stand.
Now take that, substitute "money" for ice cream, soufflé cheesecakes and Asian tarts, and you get the gist of a new dessert shop called Monkey King Banana Stand, which opened Aug. 31 in Dallas.
Monkey King Banana Stand is a sister business to Monkey King Noodle Co., both of which come from owner Andrew Chen and sit a just 348 feet apart on Main Street in Deep Ellum. In fact, the dessert shop is now where the noodle house once resided -- in a quaint building wrapped in wood with a walk-up window.
Chen opened Monkey King Noodle Co. in 2013, but needed a larger space after the concept took off. The new location opened in July, leaving Chen with an empty shack and a five-year lease to fill. He began working on the dessert concept about a year ago and enlisted pastry savant Cuong Vo to help develop the menu.
"We just love desserts," Chen says, whose family is from Taiwan. "Some of the pastries, it's the stuff I grew up eating as a kid."
Monkey King Banana Stand is currently serving a limited menu of staple items it plans to expand on in the future. Ice cream flavors include green tea, Vietnamese coffee, vanilla bean, chocolate, and, of course, banana. (You'll be disappointed if you try to order a chocolate-covered banana, though, because this stand doesn't sell them.)
Other treats include soufflé cheesecake, which Vo describes as a hybrid cheesecake and angel food cake; Chinese egg tarts, which are the consistency of creme brûlée inside a pastry shell; and Taiwanese pineapple tarts, that taste like shortbread cookies stuffed with jam, he says.
Everything, from the dough to the ice cream, is made from scratch. The green tea flavor is a mix of matcha powder and leaves, while bananas are manually roasted and spiced before they are turned into ice cream. Chen describes arduously tasting several chocolates before Vo chose which to give the frozen treatment.
"He takes a wine sommelier's approach to ice cream," Chen says of Vo.
Eventually the duo wants to venture into off the wall flavors, like durian ice cream. The pastries, though, are an experiment in themselves. Chen is curious to see whether they resonate with American palates. Asian pastries are not intended to be overpoweringly sweet, he says. They're more about subtle flavors.
And if the banana stand takes off like the noodle company Chen isn't ruling out the possibility of opening a bigger dessert store.
"We're going to hold onto [the stand] and essentially treat it like an incubator," he says. "If we have a good concept and it works here, then we can roll it out to something bigger."
Monkey King Banana Stand is open Wednesday through Saturday (roughly) noon to 9 p.m., and Sunday (roughly) noon to 4 p.m. as it gains its footing. It's located at 3014 Main St. in Dallas.