The owners of popular Lake Highlands restaurant Cedar and Vine recently opened a sister restaurant across the street called Hei Hei (pronounced “hey hey”) specializing in Chinese food.

Let’s be clear about what Hei Hei is and is not. They are an American-Chinese restaurant, and they make no bones about it. So, what is American-Chinese? It’s Chinese food with an American flair. Expect a creative twist on most dishes, and that is by design.

click to enlarge The bar seating at Hei Hei has a workstation feel. - ANGIE QUEBEDEAUX

The bar seating at Hei Hei has a workstation feel.

Angie Quebedeaux

Take, for example, crab Rangoon. This delicious appetizer is usually served in a fried wonton with a dollop of crab meat and cream cheese in the middle. At Hei Hei, it is served as a dip with a load of crispy fried wonton chips. The dip has decent chunks of crabmeat mixed into the cream cheese and is the perfect way to start your meal. (Party tip: They do give you a ton of wonton chips, so if you have leftovers, bring them home and serve it with homemade ahi tuna tartare.)

Owners Sam Howard and Brandon Carter are both Lake Highlands natives, and they’re on a mission to bring great restaurant concepts to the neighborhood. Cedar and Vine offers an approachable yet refined menu with salmon and steak dishes; it’s had a loyal neighborhood following for several years. Because Hei Hei was created during COVID-19, they knew they needed to focus more on a fast-casual concept that could easily offer to-go meals and delivery.

click to enlarge Spicy drunken noodles - ANGIE QUEBEDEAUX

Spicy drunken noodles

Angie Quebedeaux

Hei-Hei offers a family-friendly and laid-back atmosphere with a full bar of premium booze and specialty cocktails (like a mai tai, blood orange margaritas and lychee martinis to name a few) for those who choose to dine-in versus ordering to go. There is plenty of seating available for a large party, a family of four, or a single seat at the bar. They don’t offer happy hour specials, but the owners said that’s in the works.

In addition to the crab Rangoon, we ordered the spicy drunken noodles and J’s Lo Mein on our first visit. The spicy drunken noodles are served with slow-cooked brisket, onions, peppers and chili oil. Perhaps our spicy meter has a higher tolerance than most as we didn’t find it to be overly spicy. But, it did have a generous portion of brisket, which we thought was a great deal for the price.

click to enlarge J's Lo Mein - ANGIE QUEBEDEAUX

J’s Lo Mein

Angie Quebedeaux

J’s Lo Mein, not to be confused with Jenny from the Block, came highly recommended by our server. It was a good recommendation and came loaded with plenty of shrimp, chicken and beef. Typically, at a fast-casual kind of place, you’re searching for your protein choices in the midst of a mound of vegetables and noodles and that was not the case here. We asked the kitchen to make it spicy and it was.

We look forward to visiting Hei Hei again and trying some other dishes such as teriyaki beef skewers, crispy tofu, bacon and egg fried rice and any of their stir fry classics. There are several vegan and gluten-free options available as well.

Hei Hei, 9660 Audelia Road, Suite 117 (Lake Highlands). Open 4-9 p.m. Monday – Sunday