Hot pot dining sets Jade Palace apart | Review
- Rating: 3 of 4 stars
- Address: 1109 Herr Lane, in Westport Village
- Cuisine: Chinese
- Price range: Moderate
Our server, Victoria, placed a platter of assorted raw delicacies on our table, including shrimp, squid, tripe, tofu, cod, and paper thin slices of beef and pork forming an imposing tower before us.
“I’m so jealous, this is making me hungry,” said our Jade Palace server, Victoria, laughing.
Beside us sat a bubbling pot of pork broth, aromatic herbs and slices of scallion bobbing about. This broth is the key ingredient in the hot pot experience, a Chinese dining tradition only available at a few restaurants in Louisville. A collection of ladles, chopsticks and tongs were laid out and an additional table pulled up ensuring we had plenty of room for the multitude of components required for hot pot dining.
“Drop the meat in the broth and, once it has cooked through, dip it in your sauce,” Victoria said, as bowls of ginger, garlic, soy sauce and a rich paste were on hand, meant to be mixed to each individual diner’s preference. “We make this at home on the weekends. It is my favorite.”
As we tackled the mountain of food before us on a cold winter afternoon, it was easy to see why.
Located in Westport Village, Jade Palace’s dining room is open and sparsely decorated, the vibe casual and unadorned. A long buffet bisects the space and is laden with various go-to Chinese dishes — think lo mein, fried rice and sesame chicken. Three different, multi-page menus are handed over upon arrival and I can understand why the buffet would be a popular choice, the seemingly endless list of culinary delights — both well known and unfamiliar — were intimidating, to say the least.
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The urge to simply visit the buffet or order the General Tso’s chicken is compelling but I strongly encourage you to step outside the confines of the Americanized favorites and spend some time exploring the dishes decorating the Chef’s Special and dim sum menus. This approach is what led my husband and me to the "special hot pot for two" (HP2 - $36) and an interactive dining experience we found to be both rewarding and filled with flavor.
But before the hot pot comes the dim sum, another Chinese dining tradition and a must for anyone visiting Jade Palace, particularly those dining on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. We watched Victoria and her fellow servers roll carts through the maze of tables during our weekend lunch outing, each laden with small steamer baskets of dumplings, plates of sesame balls and various warm and pillowy stuffed buns. While the dim sum menu is available all week long, the tradition of selecting your dim sum tableside, from the cart, is only practiced during the weekend lunch hour.
We sampled a variety of creations including char sui bao, a doughy and slightly sweet steamed roast pork bun (#19 - $3); seen chuck kn, a tasty blend of shrimp and pork wrapped in the delicate folds of tofu skin (#44 - $3); and yee chi gow, a lightly seasoned shark fin dumpling (#80 - $3). Larger dim sum dishes are also available and we found the steamed broccoli (T2 - $7.99) to be a favorite, cooked to perfection and enhanced by the accompanying dipping sauce.
The quarter roast duck (T10 - $7.99) would have been more enjoyable if hadn’t been quite so dry. The fong chow, or chicken feet (#42 - $3), were also a miss, seemingly over-steamed and lacking the crispness I’ve enjoyed in other iterations of this dish.
Additional visits to Jade Palace allowed me to taste outside of the dim sum and hot pot menus. The special soy sauce shrimp entree (SF10 - $15.99) showed promise, the serving of shell-on shrimp, heads still intact, were ample; however, lacking seasoning, the shrimp was sadly overcooked.
Regardless of your entree selection, save room for at least a sampling of something sweet to close out your meal at Jade Palace. The dim sum menu balances sweet with savory and the custard egg tart — a.k.a. don tot (#39 - $3) — and the sesame balls filled with saccharine red bean paste (#262 - $3) are the ideal bite-sized indulgences to end any meal.
I watched Victoria greet several regulars during our Sunday afternoon visit, various families, many with kids in tow, filling their table tops with a plethora of small dim sum plates, a customized buffet of their own making. While the standard menu offerings are worth consideration, the traditional dim sum and hot pot offerings are what set Jade Palace apart and have assured my swift return.
Reach freelance restaurant critic Lindsey McClave at email@example.com.
Rating: 3 of 4 stars
Address: 1109 Herr Lane, in Westport Village
Children’s menu: No
Alcohol: Yes, small selection of sake, wine and beer
Vegetarian: multitude of vegetarian options
Price range: Moderate
Credit cards: Yes
Access: The restaurant appears to be fully accessible
Parking: Ample parking available in Westport Village lot
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; buffet available for lunch Monday-Friday and dinner every night of the week from 5-8:30 p.m.