Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lucky Palace in Bossier City: You Either Get It or You Don't

by Sydney Blanchard

Since I began as an intern with Bite and Booze nearly a year ago, I have heard whispers of Lucky Palace in Shreveport, Louisiana.

It's safe to say Jay and Blair are obsessed with the place: these two actively fantasize about the restaurant, and they tell everyone about this place if the topic of best places to eat ever comes up.

Sure, they say, the food is phenomenal, but that's not what makes Lucky Palace special. It's the location, the decor, the service.

It's the unexpectedness of it all.

So when Jay, Blair, and I were invited to hang out in Shreveport-Bossier with the tourism bureau's PR and Social Media Manager Chris Jay in late September, I stayed focused on my one true objective throughout our trip. I had to see whether Lucky Palace lived up to the hype.

Here's the thing. Lucky Palace is situated in a seedy part of town within an interstate-side hotel. The parking lot looks like the kind of place where people meet up to buy or sell prescription pain medication. It's poorly lit, and getting to the restaurant requires entering through the yellowing, smoke-smelling hotel lobby.

Entering Lucky Palace is akin to entering another dimension. Lucky palace exists in another place and time.

The interior is shrouded in red-tinged darkness. It's impossible to sense how large or small the place is, or to determine where the walls end and the floors begin.

Imagine a cross between a very ornate Chinese restaurant from the 1970s and the Red Room from David Lynch's Twin Peaks. That's the only way to describe Lucky Palace.

The menu offers typical "Chinese-American" fare: sesame, orange, and General Tso's chicken, egg drop soup, and egg rolls. But a keen observer will head straight for the House Specialties: Northern style duck with steam buns, squid with sour cabbage, Korean pancakes, and more.

Roasted Duck on Scallion Pancakes

It almost goes without saying that the food is incredible. The roasted duck on scallion pancakes makes for a perfect bite. The crunchy "pirate boats" filled with crisped scallops chopped and served on Belgium endives topped with black bean sauce is breathtaking. The sweet, pecan inspired sesame 
ball dessert is a dream.

pirate boat
Pirate Boats with Black Bean Sauce

Everyone agrees the food is exceptional, but Lucky Palace’s reputation was built on its highly curated selection of wines. They have more than 250 to choose from.

Tamarind Marinated Rack of Lamb with Jalapeno Mint Glaze

Since 2003 the restaurant has nabbed Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator, and since 2006 it's been recognized by Awards of Unique Distinction by Wine Enthusiast. Lucky Palace has also twice
been named in the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in America.

Steak with onion and bell pepper

The proprietor, Kuan Lim, is a local legend. His smile illuminates the dark restaurant. Lim excels in customer service, and he has the ability to make every diner feel looked after. He will personally pair a wine with any dish at Lucky Palace, and to quote Chris Jay, "this may be the world’s only restaurant that serves a $7 sesame chicken lunch special as well as a $760 bottle of 2002 Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon."

Battered shrimp with peppers
After all the hype, I have to say, Lucky Palace exceeded my expectations. It’s easy to see how a place like this can be overlooked, and it made me ever grateful to be experiencing Lucky Palace with people who knew enough to appreciate it.

There's nothing like Lucky Palace.

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