Saturday, June 30, 2012

Miss Yip – Chinese Cuisine in Miami

After a long day of sightseeing with Dawn in the Miami area, we decided to just grab dinner somewhere close to Dawn’s condo in the downtown area.

We chose Miss Yip’s Chinese Café.  It’s right on Biscayne Boulevard, close to the southernmost bridge leading over to South Beach and just a couple of blocks away from the AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the Miami Heat.  I thought that the exterior was impressive and yet welcoming…

(Yes, running the words AmericanAirlines together when referring to the Arena is the correct way to do it.  Some local sportscasters regularly refer to the arena as the “Triple AAA”)

The interior of Miss Yip’s Chinese Café is well decorated…perhaps even a little bit plush…with dark woods and red accents.  They make the restaurant a little cozier by keeping the lighting at a low setting.  That made reading the extensive menus just a little challenging though…

I guess that they kept the doors open just to show passerbys on Biscayne Boulevard that they were open for business…

One item prominently featured on the menu was Dim Dum.  There were 18 choices.  They ranged from Pan Fried Chicken Dumplings (5 for $8.00) to Spinach or Custard Bao (3 for $6.00), or Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (4 for $7.00) and on up to the Miss Yip Platter (an assortment of 8 dumplings for $11.00)

I personally really like pan fried dumplings.  You can verify that truth by the fact that I ate 2 of my 5 Pan Fried Pork Dumplings before I remembered that we had to take a photo.  The dumplings were very good! ($8.00)

Instead of Dim Sum, Laurie went with her favorite ‘starter’ in a Chinese restaurant…Hot and Sour Soup ($6.00) Miss Yip describes their version of Hot and Sour Soup as containing “tofu, bamboo shoots and wood ear mushrooms seasoned with hot white pepper and simmered in a scrumptious chicken broth, vinegar and a touch of soy sauce”. 

While I think that the use of the word ‘scrumptious’ in reference to chicken broth is a bit of hyperbole, Laurie did enjoy the soup.  I tasted it too…and it was very good.

For her dinner, Dawn ordered the Kung Pao Chicken ($16.00).  This is described as “diced chicken breast stir fried with onions, water chestnuts, dried chili, peanuts and red and green peppers in brown sauce.”  Dawn described her dinner as OK…nothing special…but just about average.

Miss Yip is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.  The lunch specials all cost $8.88 and there are no less than 44 choices for the customer!  All “Shanghai Express” lunches come with a veggie spring roll and rice where appropriate.

Laurie’s entrée was the Curry Chicken ($16.00).  This is described as ‘boneless chicken cubes stir fried with chili paste, garlic, finely diced onion and bell pepper mix flavored with coconut milk and curry”.   Miss Yip’s kitchen staff must define ‘finely diced’ a bit different than we do… Note the chunks of onion and peppers.  Laurie did not really care for this rendition of curry chicken…and it’s normally one of her favorites.

Entrees at Miss Yip cover the complete spectrum of basic Chinese cuisine in America.  They include a variety of dishes under the headings of Fried Rice, Noodle, Chicken, Duck, Beef and Steak, Pork, Fish plus Shrimp and Squid.  Prices generally range from $10.00 to $26.00.  Miss Yip does offer Peking Duck as an entrée. ($44.00)

I stayed safe, ordering one of my standard favorites, General Tso Chicken ($15.00).  This is described as “bite size chunks of lightly battered boneless chicken, fried to golden brown then stir fried with chili pepper and Chef’s special sauce”.  I asked for extra spicy…but like most Chinese restaurants, they didn’t get it spicy enough and I had to ask for pepper sauce.  I would rate this rendition of General Tso Chicken as average…and it lacked the usual generous (and healthy) portion of broccoli that I’m used to with this dish)

Miss Yip Chinese Café was OK…not great.  It is convenient for downtown Miami diners but, due to the location and the cost of real estate, the food, (except for lunch), is a bit expensive.  Laurie had a Dirty Martini with Grey Goose Vodka and it cost $14.00!  Dawn had chamomile tea…and it wasn’t very good…and it cost $6.00…for tea!!
Miss Yip Chinese Café is located at 900 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami Florida.  Phone: 305-358-0088.  Website:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a little Chinese food!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Day at the Knoxville Zoo!

So, 33 months after we moved into east Tennessee, we had yet to visit the Knoxville Zoo.  This is unusual for us as we really like to view animals and watch them interact with their surroundings.  It isn’t like the zoo doesn’t advertize… We’ve seen plenty of ads as well as stories on TV about the zoo and its various activities.  In any case, we finally took the plunge and drove over to the east side of Knoxville for one more area experience…

The Knoxville Zoo was founded in 1948 with a single caged alligator.  Visitors were asked for penny donations so the alligator could be cared for.  The zoo now encompasses 53 acres, contains over 800 animals and it’s visited by more than 400,000 people each year.  On the rather warm late spring day that we were at the zoo, it felt like most of the 400,000 were there at the same time.  It was a very busy day!

These are African Wild Dogs.  They range in size from 40 to 79 pounds, mostly dependent on their environment and available food.  While there used to be approximately 500,000 African Wild Dogs scattered across 39 African nations, current estimates are that there are between 3,000 and 5,500 of these canids surviving in 14 countries. 

The African Wild Dog is a very successful hunter.  They hunt in packs…running their chosen prey down in a long chase…with an 80% success rate!  Their bite force is the strongest of any mammalian carnivore…they can crunch bone.  These dogs can also run at speeds reaching 40 mph. for 3 miles or more.

Laurie took a photo of this young Chimpanzee sitting alone on the rocks in the Chimpanzee exhibit area.  Chimps are members of the Hominidade Family, as are gorillas, orangutans and humans.  Males can be 5’ 6” tall when standing and they can weigh up to 150 lbs. 

In the wild, Chimpanzees live in groups or communities of between 15 and 150.  It’s estimated that between 170,000 and 300,000 remaining in the wild.  They are listed as endangered.  In many areas of Africa, they are hunted as ‘bushmeat’ or medicinal purposes for human consumption.  They are also very vulnerable to many diseases that affect humans.

Laurie loves horses…and of course Zebra’s evolved from Old World Horses.  These 2 Plains Zebras decided to lay down in the shade near the fence and pose for this photo.  Plains Zebras range over most of Africa south of the Sahara.  They are protected over much of their range due to their value as tourist attractions.

A big male zebra can reach 4’ 8” at the shoulder and they can weigh up to 850 lbs.  Zebras will migrate over 700 miles in search of food and water.  Up to 50% of all Zebra foals die in their first year due to disease, starvation and predation by lions, hyenas and other meat eating animals.

This African Elephant is working at removing hay from the barrel using his trunk.  A big African Elephant can reach 13’ in height at the shoulders and they can weigh over 6.5 tons! (13,300 lbs) They are indeed the world’s largest living terrestrial land animal. 

The Knoxville Zoo really hit the big time as a zoological park back in 1978 when it produced the 1st African Elephant born in captivity in the Western Hemisphere!  She was named “Little Diamond”.  Of all of the exhibits at the Knoxville Zoo, the elephant area seemed to be the most current and attractive…good for both the animals and zoo visitors.

This is an Eastern Black Bear… Around here, they are fairly common.  A couple of years ago, one was caught in a culvert trap about a block from our home. (They used Twinkies and Crispy Cream Donuts to bait the trap) He’d been raiding bird feeders.  He was returned to the Cherokee National Forest or the Smoky Mountain National Park. 

There are twice as many Black Bears around the globe as there are all other species of bears in the world and they are listed as a ‘Least Endangered’ Species.  While Black Bears are not particularly aggressive, it’s a good idea not to come between them and a berry patch or to get too close to a mother bear and her cub.  For short distances, Black Bears can run up to 30 mph…can you?!  The record size for a male black bear was recorded in New Brunswick Canada back in 1972.  He weighed in at about 1,100 lbs. and he was 7’ 9” long!  A large black bear normally wouldn’t exceed 550 lbs. but all bears are very strong.
For the best wild Black Bear viewing in North America, visit Orr Minnesota.  There are 20 + bear feeding stations all around an open viewing platform in a clearing in the woods.  You arrive before the bears amble in from the woods for their dinner and you leave when they’re done.  It was amazing when we saw that many wild bears…being served dinner by humans.  For more information, just go to

The Knoxville Zoo also has camel rides, (in-season @ $5.00), and carousel rides for $2.00.  The Zoo is a non-profit organization and it frequently stages events to raise money.  There is the “Feast with the Beasts”; the Zoofari (an elegant dinner with a silent auction); Boo at the Zoo (Halloween), and; Jungle Love (on Valentine’s Day). 

Note: It costs $22,400 each day to operate the Knoxville Zoo.

This is a Red Panda.  The Knoxville Zoo is well known for its successful breeding of Red Pandas and indeed, the worldwide ‘studbook’ for Red Pandas is maintained by Zoo personnel.  The Zoo has produced approximately 100 Red Pandas, only surpassed by the Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands.  Red Pandas are listed as “Vulnerable” with only an estimated 10,000 mature animals existing in the wild. 

These cute little animals are about the size of a housecat, rarely exceeding 14 lbs.  They are only distantly related to Giant Pandas…but rather are more closely akin to Raccoons…although the Red Panda is considered a living fossil…the only animal in its assigned family or genus.  These appealing animals mostly eat bamboo but they will eat meat given the opportunity.  They cannot tolerate temperatures in excess of 77 degrees.

The Knoxville Zoo has several types of tortoises and turtles on display.  Those in the photograph above are Aldabra Giant Tortoises.  They are one of the largest living reptiles, with adult females weighing in at roughly 150 lbs. and males tipping the scales at between 300 and 600 lbs. 

There are about 150,000 of these Tortoises worldwide, with most of them living on the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean.  The Aldabra Atoll is the second largest atoll in the world at 60 square miles of land surface…and most of the tortoises live on this island.  The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Its part of the Seychelles but Aldabra is isolated and uninhabited.

I liked this wall of donors…I’m guessing with the different animals shown representing the amount of the donation.

In the early 1970’s a local politician, Guy Lincoln Smith III, offered a pet lion to the struggling zoo.  The catch was that he insisted that the zoo needed a major clean-up first.  He forced the issue and worked to get the job done.  He wrote a book about the experience, entitled “A House for Joshua – The Building of the Knoxville Zoo”.  Joshua was of course, Smith’s pet lion.  The book is still available at

The zoo has a nice display of Southern White or Square Lipped Rhinoceros.  There are only about 17,000 surviving in the wild, mostly in South Africa.  Males are typically 13’ long and average 5,100 lbs., (about 2.5 tons). The largest known Southern White Rhino weighed in at 9,900 lbs. (close to 5 tons!)

Other animals in the Knoxville Zoo include River Otter, Andean Condors, Snakes, Alligators, Red Fox, Bald Eagle, Marmoset, Baboons, Red Wolf, Reticulated Giraffe, Lions, a Tiger, Sandhill Cranes, Waterbuck Gazelle, Wild Boars, Prairie Dogs, Penguin, Bobcats, snakes, a Komodo Dragon and Meercats.

The Zoo is addressing some of the key issues that we noted during our visit.  You may have noted the lack of big cat photos.  The cages were set back so far that you couldn’t really view the animals.  The facilities for the big cats and the baboons were really run down.  The good news is that the Zoo is in the midst of a $4 million renovation project.  The first items under construction are the Lion and Baboon enclosures.   They will be followed by the Tiger enclosure and then a new reptile facility.

While the Knoxville Zoo was interesting and there were some nice exhibits, it didn’t measure up to some of the big city zoos that Laurie and I have visited.  The new improvements will greatly enhance the visitor’s experience, providing an upscale experience from a medium sized operation.  Our biggest complaint was that, because of the crush of visitors, we ended up walking a long way up hill from the overflow parking lot.  Given the hilly nature of the Zoo, my old knees didn’t need the extra strain of climbing/walking as far as it was to the actual zoo entrance.
The Knoxville Zoological Garden is located at 3500 Knoxville Zoo Drive in Knoxville Tennessee.   Phone: 865-637-5331.  Admission is $19.95 for adults and $15.95 for seniors as well as for children between the age of 2 and 12.  Parking is another $5.00.  Considering that a family of 4 would have to pay $76.80 and $5.00 for parking, (plus food and drinks), we were very impressed with the big crowds!  For further information, just go to 
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for joining us on our East Tennessee Safari!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Riverwalk Grille – Loudon TN

Laurie and I had purchased a Knoxville “Lifestyle” coupon book some time ago and we decided that we’d better start taking advantage of the savings involved.  Basically, one entrée is free when you purchase one of an equal or lesser value.  What we really like about these books isn’t even the savings…it’s the fact that using them forces you to experience restaurants that you might not visit otherwise.

Since we moved to East Tennessee about 3 years ago, this old building, the Carmichael Inn in Loudon, has been occupied by 3 or 4 different restaurants… The Riverwalk Grille at the Carmichael Inn is the latest iteration on the theme.  It’s definitely a positive note in that they’ve survived for a year now.  More importantly, we’d heard some upbeat reports about the place from some of our friends and neighbors...

The main portion of the Carmichael Inn/Riverwalk Grille was constructed back around 1810.  This is the oldest building in Loudon…although it was pointed out to me that it was originally built on the other side of the Tennessee River…opposite today’s downtown Loudon.  The city moved the structure to its current site in order to save it.

This "I" was originally built as a 2-story log cabin that served as a stagecoach inn at this former key ferry crossing on the Tennessee River. (I learned that an “I” house is basically a building that is only one room deep and 2 or more rooms long)

As a restaurant, the ambience is rustic and interesting.  The rough hewn walls and brick accents certainly add interest.  There are 3 or 4 big historical ‘posters’ on the walls that provide a great deal of information about the Carmichael Inn, the Carmichael’s and the Blair’s.  One chart provides a historical timeline for Loudon…and another history ‘board’ references local citizens who went on to marry into the Astor and Vanderbilt families.

We started out with the what is now, a standard spicy shrimp appetizer.  A version of this can be found on many menus.  Ruby Tuesday may have started the trend…but for some reason it’s no longer on that restaurant’s menu.

At Riverwalk Grille it’s called the “Kickin Shrimp”, ($9.95), but we’ve also enjoyed this dish when it was referred to as “Boom Boom Shrimp” or “Bang Bang Shrimp”, etc.   We really like spicy food and we rarely pass up this offering, whatever it’s called!  This version was very nice with just about the perfect amount of spice, at least for our taste.

Our dinners started with nice salads and some decent bread…and you may note the glasses of wine on the table.  They were the house Pinot Grigio and the house Chardonnay. ($5.00 each) Both wines were smooth and easy to drink…

I just continued the shrimp theme with my dinner entree.  This is the Charleston Shrimp and Grits. ($15.95) It is described as ‘spicy shrimp in a creamy Charleston style andouille gravy served over grilled yellow corn cakes.  This was an excellent dish…a great combination of flavors!

Other dinner offerings include a 12 oz. ribeye steak ($16.99); a beef filet…6 oz. or 10 oz. ($17.95 or $22.95); stuffed barbeque pork shanks ($12.99) and; roasted vegetable fettuccine ($9.75).  Salads and burgers are also available during the dinner hour.

The other item on the dinner menu…listed under ‘Evening Offerings’, was the Daily Fish Special.  That’s what Laurie ordered.  I’m not sure of the price but I do know that it didn’t cost more than my dinner…because I wasn’t charged for this entrée.  The fish that evening was Flounder and for a side, she chose the Corn Pudding.  She really liked her dinner! It was delicious!

Laurie wanted me to advise those who enjoy outdoor dining that the Riverwalk Grille at the Carmichael Inn does have an extensive outdoor dining porch or deck.  Personally, I don’t need to sit outdoors to eat…sharing the ambience with insects, hot weather or passing traffic…but, Hey!  That’s just me talking…

Normally the story would end here…but Laurie’s sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill recently visited us and we decided to take them to the Riverwalk Grille for lunch. 

These are the sisters…Bonnie and Laurie. (Bonnie is a perfect houseguest…never complains, likes to do almost anything and she’s helpful too!)

Of course, this photo is of me and Bill. (Bill is a perfect guest too…as long as you furnish him with an ironing board and an iron.  He irons everything he wears, even t-shirts!) Bill is also laid back and is willing to do just about anything for entertainment…and, oh yes, he likes to cook too! 

OK…back to the Riverwalk Grille, the food and a little more input…

This was our luncheon appetizer…Homemade Tortilla Chips and Queso Dip. ($6.99)  The chips were pretty good but needed a little salt.  The queso dip had no flavor, zero, zip…no popping of the taste buds…bland.  Our sandwiches were good but the soup, (nice corn chowder), could have been warmer.  My sandwich came with decent homemade potato chips.  Our biggest problem was that our service was uneven…and Bill’s luncheon salad wasn’t what he ordered.

OK…two meals at the Riverwalk Grille!  We will return for another visit.  The food is generally quite good and the prices are reasonable.  The service is uneven but at least the server’s attitude is positive…they’re trying.  
The Riverwalk Grille at the Historic Carmichael Inn is located right off of US 11 in downtown Loudon Tennessee…right at the south end of the bridge over the Tennessee River.  The restaurant is located right on the edge of the Loudon County courthouse square at 600 Hackberry Street.  Phone: 865-657-3222.  The Riverwalk Grille does serve breakfast daily as well as Sunday brunch.  They are only open for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Website:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave   

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Railroad Depots/Wedding Dresses Along the Way

On a recent trip to Arkansas, unfortunately to attend a memorial service for a close friend, we ran into construction on I-40 westbound.  Consequently, we jumped off the freeway not too far west of Memphis…choosing the parallel 2-lane US 70 as our alternate.

This would be no surprise to anyone who really knows me…I just happened to have my railroad depot listing with me!  One never knows what points of interest one might find when he or she wanders off of the big sterile concrete beast that we refer to as the Interstate Highway System.

Sure enough!  We exited I-40 at Brinkley Arkansas and upon driving into the center of town, we spotted this beauty.  It’s the former Union Station, built in 1912 to serve the several railroads that served Brinkley at that time.  These lines included the Rock Island (Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific), the Missouri-Pacific and the Cotton Belt Railroad.  At its peak, as many as 63 passenger trains per day came through the town. 

Some of these passenger trains had great names.   There was the Choctaw Rocket (Memphis – Amarillo); the Lone Star (Memphis – Dallas), and; the Morning Star (St. Louis – Dallas).  The last Cotton Belt passenger train stopped here in 1959 and the last Rock Island train stopped in 1967. 

This is one side of the former Depot.  On one side of the building, there are active railroad tracks.  Back in the halcyon days of railroad travel, Brinkley had the advantage of being positioned almost exactly halfway between Memphis and Little Rock.  The good news is that this depot has been preserved and repurposed.

R.C. Brinkley was the President of the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad after the Civil War.  Since the railroad ran right through town and since it brought business and prosperity, the town was named after him.  One side note of interest… R.C. Brinkley obtained financial backing for the railroad from a London England financier named George Peabody.  Sometime later, Brinkley had a hotel in Memphis named after his financier.  The Peabody Hotel is still very well known and respected.  

Brinkley only has a population of about 3,000…but the population has been shrinking for many years now.  Despite that fact, the town seems to have a positive attitude.  The Union Depot is now the Central Delta Depot Museum and it also serves as the visitor’s center for the State’s Louisiana Purchase State Park.  This is the point where the land survey of America’s new purchase was initiated.   

The Union Depot, the Southern Pacific caboose in the last photo, the little depot shown above, a fully furnished sharecropper’s cabin and the adjacent Rusher or Great Southern Hotel combine to comprise the Lick Skillet Work Station Historic District.  This grouping was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.  FYI…That little depot was apparently relocated from somewhere else in the county in order to preserve it.
The Central Delta Depot Museum is focused on the natural, social, agricultural and cultural history of the Arkansas delta region.  Displays include railroad artifacts, mussel diving, jazz musician Louis Jordan, military artifacts, wildlife, household items and local history.  I could not find a useful website for this museum...

This is the former Rusher or Great Southern Hotel.  The hotel was built in 1915.  It sits strategically next to the Union Depot and it served many weary travelers over the years.  At some point the Prince family bought the hotel.   They operated it as a hotel for several years…but now they’ve repurposed the building and it’s busier than ever!

This huge structure is now a major retail enterprise!  This is the home of Low’s Bridal Shop.  This shop is famous among southern brides to be… The store stocks over 3,000 dresses in 25,000 sq. ft. of display space.  Dresses range in price from very modest to very luxurious…in the thousands of dollars!  The family has maintained this building beautifully, both inside and out.  To see a portion of the wedding dresses on display as well as to gain a glimpse of the interior of the former hotel, just click on

This ‘Craftsman/Tudor Revival’ style depot is located in Hazen Arkansas.  It was built in 1915 by the Rock Island Railroad.  It’s billed as the only surviving Rock Island depot in Arkansas that is stucco and brick with a slate roof...but I’m not sure about that roof.  The structure was saved by the woman mayor and the local women’s clubs.  That’s pretty impressive when you consider that the town is home to only about 1,500 people!  This building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The original railroad right of way has been converted into a paved trail…with a ‘unique’ name…The Hazen Trail.  

Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing our road trip with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pizza, Produce and Signs!

How about a ‘variety blog’ for a change!  We’ll start with food…continue with food…and then we'll end with 2 small but clear and sensible signs that anyone can understand…

I love this old style sign...  The Pizza Palace is a Knoxville landmark… As you can see, it’s been 51 + years since Al, Gus and Arthur Peroulas pooled their savings and opened the Pizza Palace.  It’s still owned and operated by the family.  The Pizza Palace basically introduced pizza to Knoxville!

But…did you notice anything unusual in the photo?

How about a pizza joint that’s a drive-in restaurant!  Eating pizza in my car…or spaghetti for that matter…would guarantee that I’d be bathed in tomato sauce and other bits of food!  Still…even though a pizza drive-in doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, they’ve been operating for 51 + years!

In 2007, the Pizza Palace was the second restaurant featured on Guy Fieri’s new show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  To view that clip and to take a closer look at this restaurant, just go to 

If you didn’t believe that this was a drive-in just based on the outdoor photo, let me assure you that this narrow counter with stools suffices for those wishing to dine inside the restaurant…it's all there is! 

 FYI…pizzas cost from $5.75 for a small 10” cheese on up to $17.60 for a large 14” “Super”.  Spaghetti is another big menu item.  Meat sauce is the only option…no straight tomato sauce...but you can get your spaghetti and meat sauce with meat balls, mushrooms or pepperoni. ($7.65)

As you will note, our pepperoni and sausage pizza just barely fit on that narrow ‘dining ledge’.  The crust was nice and thin and fairly crispy but the crumbled sausage lacked definition as regards flavor… This was a good pizza, but we still think that Big Ed’s in Oak Ridge turns out the best pizza in the metropolitan area. 

Other food options on the menu include dinners…lasagna, ravioli, tenderloin steak, fried chicken, fried shrimp, fried oysters, a fried fish plate and veal cutlet a la Parmigiana.  The most expensive meal dinner cost $10.65!  There is also a plethora of sandwiches, salads and the Pizza Palace’s famous Hand-Breaded Onion Rings. ($4.15 for a whole order…a true stack of rings!)
The Pizza Palace is close to the Knoxville Zoo, so it’s a good place to pick up that pizza on the way home from a day with the kids and the wildlife.  Address: 3132 Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-524-4388.  Website: 
To review my thoughts about Big Ed’s in Oak Ridge Tennessee, just go to

This nice basket of fresh produce was courtesy of Larry ‘Big Dude’ and his wife, Bev. ( Big Dude is a Master Gardener, with a really great and large garden…as well as the king of smoking some very fine meats.  The green beans were terrific and the zucchini will be devoured very quickly.  There is nothing like fresh produce that’s just been harvested!  Thanks Larry and Bev!

These yellow signs on the back doors of that semi rig are the clear and sensible signs that I was talking about.  This photo was taken on I-90 between Cleveland and Erie Pennsylvania.  You will need to enlarge the photo to appreciate the two signs with the arrows as shown above… there both a clever warning and an example of some really wry humor!

Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for another visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thai Cuisine – A Future Nationwide Chain?

We belong to a local group that dines out monthly, trying different restaurants and different cuisines… The key goal of the group is really social, but we do come across some nice restaurants and we do have a good time!

This is the front of Surin of Thailand in Knoxville Tennessee.  As stated, the focus is on authentic Thai Cuisine and Sushi!  Our group consisted of about 20 couples…

Laurie snapped this photo of our table… From the left…Edera, Dennis, Ken, Belinda and yours truly. 

In this instance, our group was ordering their entrees from a limited menu.  We had 7 choices plus we could order appetizers, salads and desserts from the regular menu.  The cost of the entrées on our special menu ranged from $9.00 to $22.00.

Laurie and I love appetizers, sometimes even more than the entrees.  Laurie loves good crab rangoon and when she saw these fried Crab Angels, (crab and cream cheese seasoned wontons), she had to have them. ($4.00) They were excellent!

Another appetizer was the Surin Baskets. ($6.50) This flavor combination consists of shrimp, corn, chicken, onion, cilantro and Surin’s spices, served in 6 minature pastry baskets.  They’re accompanied with a honey-peanut cucumber sauce.  This appetizer was another winner!

One diner at our table ordered the Wonton Soup. ($4.00) This combined shrimp and chicken stuffed wontons in a broth with Napa cabbage and scallions.  Thumbs up again!

One interesting soup on the menu is the Seafood Soup. ($6.00) This soup contains squid, mussels, shrimp and scallions in a spicy broth.

These are Fresh Basil Rolls. ($4.50) This was my appetizer.  These rolls are filled with leaf lettuce, fresh basil, bean sprouts, flavorful Thai pork and fresh shrimp and they were accompanied with plum-peanut sauce.  They were very nice and refreshing when dipped in the sauce.

There is a wide selection of appetizers on the regular menu.  These include items like Egg Rolls ($4.00); Satay Beef or Chicken ($6.50) and; Chicken Larb…spicy meat and veggies with cabbage for wrapping. ($7.00)

When Laurie saw that Surin had Sashimi on the menu, she had to order some!  She loves Sashimi and Sushi… This Sashimi Appetizer, ($10.00), consisted of salmon, yellowtail and tuna.  She was a very, very happy camper!

There was a wide variety of Sushi and Sashimi style offerings on the menu.  (Nigiri/Sashimi, Maki, Specials and House Specialties, Maki Mono and a few Sushi combos) I also learned that Maki Mono is fresh seafood rolled in rice and seaweed.  You can spend as little as $4.00 for 2 pieces of Nigiri or as much as $22.00 for one of the house specialties.

Laurie ordered the Ginger Stir Fry with Shrimp. ($11.50) This consists of shrimp with white onions, scallions, zucchini, mushrooms and carrots in a Thai ginger sauce.  Once again, we had a winner!

Another diner ordered the Thai Sea Bass. ($20.00) The sea bass is pan-seared and oven roasted, then served with sautéed jumbo shrimp and scallops accompanied by Chinese celery, scallions, carrots and Napa cabbage.  This diner is gluten intolerant and she was pleased that the restaurant worked with her re: her dietary needs.

Dennis ordered the Ka Proud Lamb, a rack of lamb split into3 thick chops, char-grilled and seasoned with Ka Proud sauce. ($22.00) The Ka Proud sauce uses an herb similar to basil.  The chops are also served with Surin’s spicy basil mushroom and bell pepper sauce and shrimp fried rice.  He told me that the chops were very good indeed…cooked just right!

One other diner at our table also ordered the Thai Sea Bass.  In this case, her entrée was accompanied by the usual Thai ginger-soy sauce.

The menu is quite large, especially considering that this Surin of Thailand is part of a chain.  The size of the menu is more like one would expect in a local Chinese or Thai restaurant.  There are stir fry meats or tofu ($9.00 - $12.50); Noodle and Rice Dishes ($10.00 - $13.00) and; a group of Thai curries ($10.50 - $13.50).  Of note were the Select Special Entrees.  These items included Roasted Duck ($15.00); Spicy Mixed Seafood ($19.00) and; the Tiger Cry, a 15 oz. Rib Eye Steak that’s marinated Thai spiced and served with Surin’s Special Hot Sauce. ($19.00)

I ordered the Thai Barbequed Chicken. ($13.00) This was half of a chicken marinated overnight in Surin’s BBQ sauce and slow roasted, then grilled and served with shrimp fried rice.  I was a little disappointed as I didn’t feel that the chicken had much flavor.  The accompanying sauce plus a little leftover wasabi from Laurie’s sashimi appetizer helped to enhance the chicken…

All in all, our group really liked Surin of Thailand.  Service was solid, the restaurant was attractive and the food was very good.  Laurie and I felt like Surin could possibly become the Thai equivalent of P.F. Chang…but with a lot more dining options to choose from!  We will be back!  It was a very enjoyable dining experience!
In addition to Knoxville Tennessee, Surin of Thailand has locations in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.  The Knoxville restaurant is located at 6213 Kingston Pike.  Phone: 865-330-0007.  The Website can be found at:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a taste of Thailand!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave