The last time the Squad went to Lobster King, we found a wonderful restaurant that was in trouble. The restaurant wasn’t getting enough business and was in danger of closing.
On this trip, we were very happy to find a very different situation. Thanks to the glowing reviews on the wall from the Commercial Appeal (yay Leslie!) and Memphis Magazine, the restaurant was alive and vital. Of course now our quiet little restaurant was beset with typical restaurant issues, folks lined up at the door waiting to be seated, annoying children running around the dining room, slightly harried servers working hard to keep up while also having to spend extra time introducing new diners to the cuisine. We had an absolutely average evening service-wise, and we couldn’t be happier.
Lobster King is a delight for us because the food is marvelously authentic and delicious Chinese. We have had the opportunity to try dishes that we have not seen elsewhere in Memphis and that we might not have felt encouraged to try even if we saw them.
With Squirrelly, Jr., spending the evening out playing video games, Mama Squirrel and I were able to explore even further. Lobster King now has a dim sum checklist menu much like the menus at sushi places. Our waiter helped us with the list because a few items were unavailable. We chose turnip cakes, scallion fun noodles, and steamed sweet rice with pork and shrimp.
Leslie Kelly recently mentioned trying chicken feet. She also recommended chicken foot soup. Feeling a bit of oneupsmanship bravado, I requested duck feet. Sadly, they were out of duck feet, so we settled for chicken feet in black bean sauce. To balance known and unknown, we also requested short ribs. They were out of the dim sum serving of short ribs, but they did have an entree of short ribs in black pepper sauce that we decided to order.
Turnip cakes are excellent. The texture is reminiscent of fried grits for lack of a better description. The cakes combine a bit of turnip sweetness with toastiness from being fried. Scallion fun noodles are fun. Squares of soft cooked noodles are sprinkled with chopped scallions and rolled up. The stack of rolls is drizzled with sauce at the table. Mama daintily cut the rolls with her chopsticks, while I just ate the whole thing. The tender noodles were perfect for a bit of flavor burst from the scallions and sauce.
The steamed sweet rice came as squares wrapped in ti leaves. The squares of sweet rice were stuffed with bits of pork sausage and shrimp. For Mama, the ti leaves were instant transport back to Hawaii. I agree that they gave the flavor that they gave to lau lau, but that isn’t among my favorite flavors. Mama loves it though.
The short ribs were tender and the black pepper sauce was delicious. The ribs are more thinly cut than American-style ribs, but that makes eating them with chopsticks easier.
Enough suspense now, we have to face the chicken feet. Chicken feet are unmistakeably chickens’ feet. Recently, we tried a beef heart both to experiment with a new cut of meat and to acknowledge the sources of our food. We were still able to cube and skewer the heart. There is no disguising a chicken foot.
I must confess, that I was not able to get very far beyond my cultural aversions when it came to the chicken foot. I was game and bit right into one of the toes(?). This may have been a mistake because the thin bit of stewed-soft skin easily gives way. Suddenly, my teeth hit bone, and I was very aware that I had just bitten into an animal’s digit. After that, just gnawing the skin off wasn’t very successful either. The soft skin was rather gelatinous and not pleasant to think about at that point. The black bean sauce, however, was absolutely delicious. When we return to Lobster King, we will be looking for more items to try with it.
The only flaw in our evening at Lobster King was that we were brought two copies of the American menu. The keys to a good meal at Lobster King are to be just a tiny bit adventurous and to get a copy of the Asian menu so that you will at least know what is available. Even if it’s not really your thing, just knowing it’s available is fun.
Lobster King — Closed
32 N Cleveland Street
Memphis, Tennessee 38104