Laurie and I have partaken of many different cuisines…to include Greek, North African, Vietnamese, Brazilian, Cuban, Moldovan, Polish, Mediterranean, Italian, Spanish, French, Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Argentinean, Japanese, Hawaiian, German, Irish, Scottish, Russian, etc., as well as Chinese. However, we’d never experienced Dim Sum until just recently.
Friends and neighbors, Gary and Paula, called and invited us to join them at a local Knoxville restaurant to sample their Dim Sum offerings. By way of definition, Dim Sum refers to a style of Chinese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates.
Dim Sum is also well known for the way it’s served in some restaurants. Fully cooked and ready-to-serve Dim Sum dishes are loaded on carts and rolled around the restaurant so customers can see the offerings and then choose their orders while seated at their table.
This is the Little Szechuan Chinese and Dim Sum Restaurant in Knoxville Tennessee. It’s not too impressive from the outside, but with restaurants as with people, you have to sample what is offered inside…
FYI…Little Szechuan Restaurant has a regular menu in addition to serving Dim Sum. There are a plethora of luncheon specials during the week and there is an extensive dinner menu as well… But we came for the Dim Sum experience!
The Little Szechuan Restaurant is quite large…with plenty of room between tables for the Dim Sum carts to pass. The interior isn’t fancy and the Chinese decorations and accent pieces were minimal. The restaurant was quite clean and the service was efficient and friendly.
This is a photo of Paula, our Dim Sum guide, and her husband Gary. Fortunately for us, Paula knew what the offerings were and she made most of the selections. If it had been up to Laurie and I, we’d probably still be sitting there trying to decide what to order next…
We started with this grouping of Dim Sum. From left to right: Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf; Shumai (pork and shrimp); Stewed Spare Ribs with Salted Black Beans, and; Shrimp Spinach Dumplings. Laurie and I liked them all, with Laurie being particularly fond of the Sticky Rice and I favored the Shrimp Spinach Dumplings. The servers brought Chile Oil and Chile Paste so we could amp up the ‘heat’ should we so desire.
This is one of the rolling carts that was being moved from table to table. We tried 3 of the items shown on this cart. The green vegetable in the center right is Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli). We really liked this vegetable! It was served with Oyster Sauce. We also tried the first 2 items at the front of the cart…the BBQ Pork and the Salt and Pepper Shrimp. Once again we were reminded that Chinese BBQ Pork is overcooked and dry for American tastes. The Salt and Pepper Shrimp are visually appealing and they had a nice flavor, but they were in their shells and were a little hard to eat.
Paula, our Dim Sum guide, told me that the other item in the center row on the cart is Roasted Duck. The two items in the third row are Squid and Sliced Pig Ears. Unfortunately, our photo of the Stewed Chicken Feet on another cart was too blurry to publish.
Here are two more Dim Sum offerings that we tried. From left to right we have Taro Turnovers and Fried Meat Dumplings. The Taro Turnovers were just OK…definitely an acquired taste…but the Fried Meat Dumplings were very good!
The selection of Dim Sum offerings came in 3 sizes…and at 3 different price points. There are Small Size at $2.50, Medium Size at $2.85 and Large Size at $3.75. In addition there are other quasi Dim Sum offerings such as the Chinese Broccoli, the Salt and Pepper Shrimp and the BBQ Pork that are brought out on large plates. Since we split the bill between us, I’m not sure what the charge was for some of the latter items. Note: Our share of the cost for this feast of flavor was only $32.18 before adding the tip!
These exotic looking and delicious creations are Fried Shrimp Balls. They were excellent!
So what items are on the Dim Sum menu that we didn’t have a chance to try…or didn’t have the nerve to try? The Stewed Chicken Feet was one for sure… Other Small Size Plates we didn’t sample included the Lotus Paste Sesame Seed Balls, the Bean Curd Skin with Pork, the Pan Fried Turnip Cake or the Beef Tripe with Green Onion Ginger.
This creation may not look too appetizing but this Rice Noodle Roll with Shrimp was very tasty indeed!
Among the medium size Dim Sum that we didn’t have a chance to try, there was the Shrimp Dumplings, the Garlic Chives Pan Cake, the Fried Garlic Shrimp Rolls and the Rice Noodle Rolls with Beef or Pork.
These little winners are Roast Pork Biscuits… They were very satisfying!
We only skipped 3 of the large size Dim Sum as shown on the printed menu. These were the Rice Rolls with Fried Twist Cruller, the Dumplings with Shrimp and Chives and the Bean Curd Shrimp Roll.
For something sweet, we tried these Pineapple Custard Pastry Buns. They were very nice, subtly sweet but not overwhelming. Other Dim Sum sweet choices included the Steamed Custard Bun, the Sponge Custard Cake, the Baked Egg Custard Tart, the Mango Pudding, Coconut Pudding and the Thai Pudding.
To learn more about Dim Sum and the types of dishes that are included in this food genre, just go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dim_sum.
Many thanks to Paula and Gary for our introduction to Dim Sum! We enjoyed it very much…lots of different tastes and food experiences... Laurie and I will definitely return to Little Szechuan Chinese and Dim Sum Restaurant. We’ll bring friends for the Dim Sum and we’ll also want to try out the full Chinese Dinner Menu. For one thing, it offers 4 different lamb dishes, something that Laurie and I miss and crave since leaving Chicago for East Tennessee.
Little Szechuan Chinese Restaurant is located at 8459 Kingston Pike in Knoxville Tennessee. Phone: 865-670-3540. Website: http://www.littleszechuantn.com/.
Just click on any of the Dim Sum or other plates to enlarge the photos…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing another dining adventure with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave