Lucky Bamboo gets an extra star for being the only dim sum restaurant in Nashville. That being said, it didn’t help much. But hey, at least the service is friendly.
I really wanted to like this place. Dim sum is one of my favorite things on earth and when I saw the photos, I thought this could be close to the real thing! However, the food can be described with one word: disappointment. I’ve reheated frozen dumplings that have turned out better than this (and I do believe these are just steamed frozen entrees).
I arrived right at opening (11am) and walked into a fairly empty restaurant with someone mopping the floors. Side note: if a dim sum restaurant only serves the dishes on the weekends and opens at 11am, that’s already a bad sign. If a restaurant is still using floor cleaner when customers are there, it’s even worse. Shortly after being seated, someone rolled up a cart with selections to choose from.
I ordered a number of yum cha (dim sum) standards: har gow (shrimp dumpling), shu mai (dumpling with ground pork or chicken), shrimp rice noodle roll (cheung fun), pork rice noodle roll, and sticky rice wrapped with lotus leaf. I skipped the xiaolong bao (soup dumpling), as it looked questionable and they didn’t have much else to choose from. There were no spare ribs, tripe, chicken feet, egg tarts, or anything like that.
The har gow skin was far too thick – the chewiness and starch of the rice flour overpowered the flavor and texture of the shrimp. In fact, it almost had to be drenched in soy sauce and chili oil to have any flavor at all – and even more surprising, it was cold (despite being served right at opening). The two variations I had of the shu mai (both pork and chicken) weren’t much better; they lacked the bouncy texture that the dumpling is supposed to have but instead had greasy cartilage inside instead.
The cheung fun (rice noodle rolls) were probably the best items I had that morning, salvaged mostly by the sweetened soy sauce. The bbw pork was decent, it had some red flavor and the portion of noodle was appropriate, though these were served lukewarm as well.
Unfortunately, the sticky rice was also disappointing as well. It tasted like the quail egg was cracked in, so the texture became granular, almost like biting into bits of sand with the sticky rice and the lap chong (Chinese sausage) was under cooked, so its sweet fat didn’t dissolve into the flavor of the rice.
Normally, I leave no dumpling untouched and certainly would never leave anything on the table at a dim sum restaurant. However, I walked away without bothering to ask for takeout containers…it just wasn’t worth it.
It seems if you want decent dim sum, it isn’t going to be found in Nashville (yet). You’re better off reheating some of the frozen entries from the K& S International Market next door than eating the stuff served at Lucky Bamboo. Or even better: drive to Atlanta and get the real thing instead.
Lucky Bamboo China Bistro, 5855 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209