Review: I No Speak Any Engrish
some poor chicken is missing his left foot
I stormed into the bathroom, desperate to relieve three glasses of water. Hearing no movement, seeing no people, I went to the closest stall where the door was wide open. BAM. An old Chinese man sitting on the toilet, his long face staring at the wall, trying to relieve more than just water. I was in that stall and then I was out before he could fully turn to face me.
new location, new look, still populated with Asians. All good signs.
The last time I visited Asian Palace, I nearly threw up the rotten food right onto the lazy susan in the middle of the table. Since that fateful encounter, the restaurant closed on Covington and reopened on Summer Avenue, thus signaling a new era in it’s long, storied history from the days of great wedding banquets.
Asian Palace’s new home is a sharp change from it’s previous location. Warehouse concrete stands in place of that nasty old carpet and natural sunlight in place of traditional Chinese lanterns dangling from the ceiling. The food, it seems, also has been recreated and refined back into shape.
fried taro root – delicious
On one Saturday afternoon, I visited Asian Palace with my grandmother for dim sum, fully aware that a key to getting better service is knowing the actual language. The meal started with tough, flavorless meatballs but afterwards quickly picked up pace. Crunchy sesame balls filled with red bean paste, fatty chicken feet with as much flavor as there were bones, savory deep-fried taro root — it was all great and, as my grandmother assured me, all real. No gimmicks. No fried rice floating around. Nobody looking for eggrolls.
By far the best dish was a plate of thin sheets of rice noodles with bits of char siu tucked inside. The noodles — soft, gentle, fresh — were complemented by a lightly flavored (ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil? I dunno) sauce. The dish was so simple yet so addicting. It was heroin on a plate (in drug speak).
egg custard tarts
We ended the meal with these egg custards, a dessert so ridiculously fattening Paula Dean must have been a part of the original recipe. The crust is made from lard so the result is a dense, buttery, rich treat that’s so wrong your arteries actually weep tears.
I left Asian Palace on a full and satisfied stomach, not an easy task when it’s tapas-style Chinese food. Afterwards I took my grandmother to the Chinese grocery store where she talked with the store owner.
It was a good day to be Chinese.
5266 Summer Ave.
Memphis, TN 38122