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Lucky Horse, new eatery in Kent, does dim sum right
By MARGERY CERCADO
In a community as diverse as Kent, sometimes finding a place to eat can be a daunting task.
Do I go to my favorite Vietnamese restaurant or the Mexican place down the hill? Should I try the Indian eatery five minutes away or that mom-and-pop diner a friend was telling me about?
Fortunately, when a new establishment opens in the area, my indecisiveness quickly disappears and I know exactly where my next food excursion will be.
So earlier this year when I saw a sign indicating a Chinese restaurant would be replacing the former Arby’s near Kent Station, I was excited. I later became especially intrigued when I found out they would be serving dim sum: bite-sized Chinese dishes inside bamboo-steam baskets or on small plates and typically touted from table to table atop pushcarts.
Lucky House Chinese Restaurant officially opened on Oct. 9 and is the second dim sum eatery in Kent, the first being Imperial Garden Seafood Restaurant (located at the Great Wall Shopping Mall on East Valley Highway). The restaurant’s owner was a chef at Fortune Seafood for nine years before he decided to open his own business.
A friend and I went to Lucky House on a Sunday afternoon, around 2, an hour before their daily dim sum – which begins at 10 a.m. – ended. The restaurant was busy, but not packed, and we were seated quickly. Unfortunately all the smaller tables were occupied and we were seated at a large round table intended to accommodate eight people. However, this was no problem for either of us, as it would mean more space for empty dim sum baskets and plates.
The inside of the restaurant was clean and felt large, especially considering it was once a fast food establishment. The décor was pleasant, with many large Chinese-style paintings of scenery decorating the walls and a big gold chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Workers wore pink shirts and were either attentively moving from table to table, refilling water glasses and taking orders, or pushing carts of dim sum.
Once seated, we were quickly brought two glasses of water, a pot of hot tea and small white cups. A woman then wheeled over the first cart of steaming dim sum. We chose the siu mai, golden, wonton-wrapped dumplings filled with chopped pork and shrimp, topped with fish roe; har gow, translucent dumplings of plump, pink shrimp; phoenix claws, deep-fried chicken feet covered in black-bean sauce; and ginger-infused tripe. I took a heaping tablespoon of chili paste from clear the container on the table and mixed it on my plate with an equal amount of soy sauce. After each dish was set on the table, our server wrote down our choices on a small green slip and set it on the table.
I first went for the siu mai, my personal favorite, and each bite had the perfect amount of meaty pork, shrimp and mushrooms. The har gow was no different, with similarly substantial amounts of shrimp tucked into each little bag of goodness; however, I found the dumplings’ typically thin and transparent skin to be a bit on the thick side.
The chicken feet were flavorfully salty, and the tripe had the perfect chewy texture and gingery-with-a-hint-of-scallion taste. The friend I was with - who is half Chinese and a self-professed dim sum connoisseur - was pleased with the first round and initiated another.
We then got pork spare ribs, deep-fried shrimp wrapped in tofu skin, pork dumplings and another bamboo basket of siu mai. The spare ribs were delectably savory and also flavored with black bean, while the deep fried, tofu skin was crunchy and paired well with the perfectly cooked fat shrimp and scallions that filled the dish. The pork dumplings, however, were another story; an extra-thick layer of wrapper covered a dense, flavorless meatball of ground pork. Out of everything we ordered, the pork dumplings were the only dish we didn’t finish.
With our bellies full, we called for the check and after being handed the little green slip, we waddled to the front of the restaurant to pay. In total each of us spent around $12, including tip. My friend, the dim sum connoisseur, and I were both pretty satisfied with our dim sum experience and plan on going back to try their main dishes.
Bottom line: If you are looking for delightful dim sum and don’t want to drive all the way to Seattle’s Chinatown International District, Lucky House is a delicious option with many of the regular staples and no city traffic or parking hassles.
Lucky House is located at 317 E. Smith St, Kent. For hours, menu and other information visit www.luckyhousekent.com.
Margery Cercado is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.