Monday, June 1, 2015

Searching for Quality Chinese Cuisine…

We had just finished having our car serviced at a dealership near Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport and it was time for lunch.  It was a choice between an Applebee’s or another attempt to find some quality Chinese food in East Tennessee.  Laurie felt adventurous so we headed for the latter luncheon destination…

This is Ming Tree Restaurant on US 129 in Alcoa Tennessee.  It was only about 11:15 AM so we were among the first customers of the day…

The interior of Ming Tree was clean and aesthetically just about what you might expect for a local Asian dining establishment.  Business did pick up quite a bit while we were having lunch. 

Our waiter started us out with the usual fried crisps and plum sauce.  They were OK but the plum sauce was much sweeter than usual.

Laurie’s favorite Chinese restaurant appetizer is Crab Rangoon so we ordered some to accompany our lunch. ($5.95) The price was right for 6 pieces…perhaps because neither of us could detect any crab in these appetizers!  If you forget the alleged crab content, for straight-forward fried cream cheese wraps, they were OK.

I like to eat my Crab Rangoon with spicy Chinese mustard.  I asked the waiter if he could bring me some…but he forgot.  By the time he came by again so I could ask again Laurie had eaten her share.  Eventually…apparently in no rush…he did bring what I’d requested.  

We almost always order hot and sour soup with Chinese restaurant luncheon specials.  This version wasn’t very distinctive or very spicy either.

I ordered General Chow’s Chicken for my luncheon entrée. ($7.25 for dark meat or $7.75 for white meat) The waiter didn’t ask me if I wanted dark or light meat.  I’d requested extra spicy but apparently either the waiter didn’t pass my request to the chef or the chef didn’t believe that I knew what I really wanted.  In any case, I now had to flag someone down to bring me some hot pepper sauce…as our waiter didn’t come by to see how we were doing.

Now back to the meal itself… Luncheons come with the diner’s choice of either an egg roll or one of 3 different soups plus fried rice.  There was plenty of rice for us to share and you could see bits of egg in it… As for my “chicken chunks coated in a light batter”, I must say that Ming Tree must define “light” much differently than I do.  The batter was thick and a little gummy…and this was not a great entrée.

For her lunch, Laurie selected the Chicken in Szechuan Sauce. ($6.95) There was plenty of food but, even more than with my lunch, the extra ‘heat’ that we’d requested was lacking.  Her entrée was almost completely bland…

Our waiter was indifferent at best although he was running from pillar to post… We doubt that he’d ever had any training as a server.  Obtaining our bill so we could pay and leave was as difficult as it was getting my hot mustard and the hot pepper sauce!  I had to ask a nearby waitress for her help and even then our server ran around a bit more before delivering the bill…

Leaving out our inefficient and inept waiter, the food at Ming Tree Restaurant is best classified as ‘fuel stop only’…and in hindsight, Applebee’s looks like gourmet cuisine.  Ming Tree Restaurant is located at 2754 A Alcoa Highway (US 129) in Alcoa Tennessee.  Phone: 865-984-3888.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. The food all looks great, Dave! I'm with Laurie on the Crab Rangoon, esp if there's a lot of meat in it. All the Applebee's around here have closed, so many restaurants competing. I think it's finally starting to warm up a little here. Have a good week!