I began the year strong, targeting one of my travel resolutions for 2022. I visited a new state, Texas. Dallas Fort Worth. A brief four-day trip to attend the wedding of a family friend. Yes, yet another wedding. There was little time to do much else as this was our sole objective for this quick trip. Because of this, I won’t be doing my typical travel itinerary. I’ve selected one restaurant to review and one experience that I’ll be diving into below, everything in one post.
A few quick thoughts before we get started: I’ve always had a plan to move to Texas though I haven’t visited before this trip. The homes are large and more reasonable than in Connecticut and the New York area. From what I’ve seen, it was the place to be. Everyone began moving there in the same way people started flooding Atlanta. With that said, I used this trip to familiarize myself with what Dallas has to offer. Needless to say, and I hope I’m not offending anyone, I, along with my family, was disappointed. This couldn’t be the Dallas everyone’s flooding to or speaking so highly of. I felt as if I missed a memo. I searched for the places to go and things to do, and there were a few things, but this isn’t what the YouTubers make it look like. Sorry to start low, but we’ll end on a high note.
KĀI Legacy West
In speaking with my friend about this trip, he sent me a list of restaurant recommendations for the Dallas Fort Worth area. I thanked him when he initially sent it, but once my family and I visited KĀI, I had to do it once more. This visit came after a super long day for me. I drove from DFW to Magnolia Farms in Waco, then Plano. Needless to say, I was not prepared. I did not do my research. I just knew I wanted good food that was not entirely too far from where we left but also somehow on the way back. All this meant was that I was not dressed for the occasion.
We entered the restaurant not sure what to expect. I missed the “sexy” memo. The waitresses dressed to impress, as did the guests. The attire was more or less something you would wear to a club, while still keeping it classy. We were asked where we would like to be seated. The establishment was divided into two, a romantic half and another that was a bit more erotic where the DJ would play his music and it turned into a lounge with more of a club vibe. Not dressed for the occasion, we still opted for the latter. It seemed as if we were the only people who showed up without a reservation, but we played a short waiting game, and they were happy to squeeze us in.
Our waitress was amazing and provided impeccable service. We were comfortable immediately, and the music and overall vibe of the section we chose were unmatched. It was packed, obviously for a good reason. The atmosphere of this establishment is truly a vibe in and of itself as if the food aspect is not necessary (except if you’re a foodie who understands that a good night out is always improved by a great meal).
It didn’t take long for us to place an order for drinks and a family size appetizer. If you have read some of my other restaurant reviews, you would know that I prefer my alcoholic beverages to resemble juice. I am not a fan of anything strong or tasting liquor. I guess you know where I’m going with this. I explained my sentiments to the waitress and she suggested the mystic monkey. The drink was amazing for lack of a better word. I love anything with hints of honey and ginger. Of course, it wasn’t strong but gave the needed effect. It arrived in a large monkey cup with an encanto pop, and two large leaves that resemble (but were not) bay leaves. The presentation alone gave the drink a 9/10. Of course, the sweet drink didn’t disappoint.
I’m not an appetizer person normally. But on this particular day, we were all starving, and hanger grew thick tension in the air. After a recommendation from our wonderful waitress, we decided on exotic Asian fruits. I figured these were fruits that I’ve had in Southeast Asia, and the thought of having them without having to travel there truly excited me. The platter came out and here’s what we saw:
Presentation: 10/10. Price? For $14/person and everyone at the table required to be included in the cost, I’m still currently debating if it’s worth it. My understanding is the portion remains the same, though the price will differ depending on the number of guests seated at the table. I believe surpassing two individuals isn’t worth it at that point. This beautiful display of fresh, foreign fruits included fruits that I’ve missed since my last trip to Southeast Asia. From kiwis to lychees to dragon fruit, strawberries, pears, and even a variety of mochi ice cream flavors, the exotic Asian fruit platter was most definitely worth it for a small group. The fruit was ripe, and every bit of flavor popped. A wonderful start to a wonderful meal.
The drink, the appetizer, and the overall atmosphere set the expectations for the remainder of our meal very high. The soaring levels of hanger began to simmer down, and we started to enjoy ourselves even more. Though I am pescatarian about 80% of the time, I opted for the wok-fried beef served with jasmine rice and an array of spices. Looking back, this was most definitely a safe choice. For an establishment that serves Asian/Pan Asian cuisine with French and other European influences, I could’ve chosen a meal that would incorporate more of the different cultures. But as a picky eater, I stuck to what I knew. The meal was flavorful, don’t get me wrong, but with that said, it did not differ entirely too much from this meal elsewhere. The price point was decent for the portion received. If I’m being honest, the entree was my least favorite part of the meal. Though it was good, the appetizer and drinks were better. And to be frank, it was not that memorable. Looking back, I vividly recall every aspect of the experience except for this meal. Not bad at all, but there is room for improvement.
Rating KĀI is easy, a solid 4.5 stars of 5. The atmosphere alone held this establishment to a high standard that the drinks and food (for the most part) followed. I highly recommend a visit to anyone in the area, with a reservation and proper attire of course.
Living out my HGTV dreams. The hour and a half drive both to and from DFW to Waco while being the only one driving was a lot for me. Do I have any regrets? No. I can’t say that I had many expectations because I didn’t know what exactly to expect. When I first drove up, I was a bit confused if the GPS led us in the right direction. We were met with construction in the entrance which made it appear so small. I looked up, and my eyes met the twin silos, confirming we were in the correct location. My aunt and I grew with excitement and made our way through the construction. It is such a cute little area so let’s break this down a little. Upon entry, you are met with a map of Magnolia Farms. Glancing at the market, I was able to spot a variety of food trucks, outdoor activity areas, and many shops along the way.
The very first stop that we made was the Magnolia Home store. The store exudes Joanna Gaines. From the minimal modern farmhouse style to the simplicity of the layout, I was in heaven. Of course, we had to travel back to New York so we could not do much shopping. Especially for furniture. This was simply just a way to satisfy our HGTV and interior design needs. Though we were unable to do much beyond look, enjoy, eat, and take many, many photos. The store was a breath of fresh air and surpassed the small section allocated to the Gaines’s home decor at your nearest Target. My aunt and I spent a ton of time in this store browsing and taking it all in. I fell in love with multiple pieces of furniture and looked into getting it to my house in Connecticut as if it was some priority or I had space for it. Expectations? Set high, very high.
We went around and around, visiting more of Chip and Joanna’s stores with home decor based on certain areas of the home. The candles and little home trinkets had a hold on my aunt and I. Mainly because it was the only thing we would pack in our luggage without issue. My aunt gifted me these beautiful concrete bookends, although I insisted that it wasn’t necessary. She made the point that it would be wrong to leave without souvenirs. Though I’m usually not a souvenir person, this was different, and I did not disagree. We convinced ourselves that these heavy bookends would travel with us without issue and collected a few more items before proceeding to checkout.
Happy with our purchases, we decided it was time for a snack. And by we, I mean me. With a plethora of options, I opted for a nice hot drink from Magnolia Press to warm me up on a cold day, and of course, I needed to pair it with a pastry. I used the drink as a hand warmer for possibly 5 minutes before the drink vanished into my stomach.
Not much longer after, my aunt and I got into a heated game of cornhole. We played for rounds on end, and I’m almost certain that I won. There were numerous outdoor activities, and though the weather was not the greatest, people still enjoyed the outdoor recreation areas. The large brick fireplace quickly became a favorite. Sitting here, I enjoyed the view of kids and adults playing with larger than human-sized soccer balls. There was so much open area to enjoy, and on a better day, I most definitely would have taken more advantage. I can only imagine what this space is like on a beautiful spring day when it’s not too hot but not cold either.
Time was spent walking around, visiting other stores, hitting the photo booth, and filling our camera rolls. Although I was not sure what to expect, it met every expectation. My only regret: not getting in the super long line for the bakery or other food options. Such a lovely place. If I ever return to the area, I will ensure that enough time is allotted to visit it once more.
Though I typically leave a review on the Airbnb/Booking that I stay for the duration of the trip, my family and I stayed at a chain hotel (Holiday Inn). It was new, very clean, and modern. Although it was a little further out than I would have wanted, everything was good in that regard.
We packed wedding-related activities, Covid tests (as I was traveling to St. Lucia 2 days after returning from Texas), and visiting chain restaurants that are only located in the south. Many many hours were spent driving solely by myself. But all in all, the trip was enjoyable. I think another visit needs to be had with no set plans or large life events in place. As I’m writing this last sentence, Texas is (almost as usual) in a very weird political climate. Pretty much solidified my thoughts on moving there. That’s neither here nor there when it comes to paying another visit to this state though. I enjoyed the quick trip, and I’m ready for another to see how I feel about Dallas. See you another time, Texas!
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