Restaurants & Bars

Tennessee Knoxville

Hong Kong House, Knoxville TN

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Restaurants & Bars 9

Hong Kong House, Knoxville TN

north2south | Aug 7, 2008 10:41 PM

This restaurant has been mentioned before, but it has no thread of its own as far as I can tell. So perhaps this thread could serve as place for folks to describe the dishes they ordered there.

I was in Gatlinburg for a few days. This was my first visit, and it was pretty much what fellow chowhounds had led me to expect. I appreciate the earlier recommendations (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/543077). Alas, I did not make it to Blackberry Farm. But we were in Sevierville one afternoon and decided to continue up to Knoxville to go to Hong Kong House.

Located on a dreary section of Kingston Pike in a half-vacant strip mall you find the very ordinary looking Hong Kong House restaurant. A look at the menu, though, will get you very interested and very hungry. You know you are in for a treat when the menu actually has a special section dedicated to "American Chinese Food." I guess the rest is the real deal, then!

There were only two of us, but we intentionally ordered more than we could finish just so we could try a range of dishes. Unfortunately, they would not serve half-orders, so we did not get as much variety as we would have liked. Nonetheless, Hong Kong house serves Chinese, esp. Szechuan food that is among the best I have eaten in the U.S., surpassing the favorite places of my former locale--the DC area--such as Joe's Noodle House and A&J's, and rivaling the best Chinese food I've eaten in China (though I must say my experience in China was limited).

Here's what we had:

West Lake Minced Beef Soup - an eggdrop base with small pieces of beef dropped into the soup along with what appeared to be small pieces of chopped tofu and cilantro. This was fine, but it was also the least flavorful dish.

Sichuan Cold Noodle - fantastic. Spicy-hot, sweet, and interesting,

Scallion Bubble Pancake - we hadn't seen this before. We thought it was going to be a regular scallion pancake, which is crispy, salty, and dense. Instead, we were served three light and billowing pita-like pancakes. A nice variation.

Fish with Cilantro Rolls - these were great. Compact fried rolls stuffed with a light white fish and generous helpings of cilantro. Very tasty, and again something we hadn't seen before.

Honey Chicken with Cucumber - think of this as the proto sweet and sour chicken, though it is so far removed from that abomination that I am hestitant to even suggest a comparison. The chicken, dredged probably in rice flour, salt, szechuan peppercorn, and other spices, was fried, and served with warm cucumber chunks with honey. Absolutely delicious.

Crispy Shrimp with Scallion - this was amazing. Another fried dish, but completely different in flavor and texture from the chicken. The onions and scallions provided a contrasting sweetness to the heat and salt of the dish. I could not eat enough of this.

Dried Fried Eggplant - again, another fried dish. We didn't know that the chicken and shrimp dishes were going to be fried. Otherwise, we probably wouldn't have ordered so much fried stuff. But what was amazing was the diversity of flavors of the dishes, despite surface similarities in the cooking style. Here, the eggplant had a more pronounced flavor of spices and szechuan pepper covering the natural sweetness of the eggplant.

The waiters thought it was interesting that we were asking them what they liked off the menu. One of them wanted to know if we were from Atlanta (we're not), where the chef previously had a restaurant. Apparently they are vaguely aware of their chef's following, but "Chowhound" did not register with them.

I am looking forward to my next trip to Gatlinburg--so I can make another trip up to Knoxville and eat more from the menu. Fellow chowhounds, post what you've eaten so as to help me figure out what to order next!

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