Last summer, Luu Quoc Hung and Kay Chen, the husband-and-wife owners of the fantastic Hong Kong-style restaurant Asian Court, relocated their 7-year-old business from its original home in Ellicott City to five miles farther west on Baltimore National Pike. And though its new home in the Turf Valley Towne Square is more accessible to I-70—making the drive from Baltimore that much easier—we’re almost sorry the move was made.
The new location is accommodating, an improvement over the original digs operating in the shadows of a tire shop. Even so, there was something about the original that let customers know they were in for an adventure. The interior was so drab that you knew the food had to be great. It looked just like a foodie find should.
The food is still very special at the new Asian Court. There is evidence that an innovative chef is in the kitchen, and the dining experience is still dizzying, especially if you go for dim sum on a weekend, which you should. Asian Court actually serves a dim sum menu seven days a week, but on weekends it serves dim sum from carts—the dining room on a recent Saturday afternoon was merrily hectic.
Brace yourself: Things happen fast. Carts wheel by, groaning with all manner of things on small plates, some of them—various dumplings filled with meat or shrimp—instantly recognizable. Others are less so, but try them. Only a few things, like the tripe and the chicken feet, feel like something out of Anthony Bourdain’s travels. Most items are surprisingly accessible, eye-pleasing, and delicious.
You’ll definitely want to grab the har-ren, which are fried balls of minced shrimp, like bite-size versions of shrimp toast; the lo-bak-goh—turnip rice cakes (delicate, mild-flavored palate cleansers); and the nai-won-bao, one of several steamed bun options—this one filled with a slightly sweet egg custard.
Ask for the regular menu, because you’ll want to do some ordering from there, too. Here again, there are a few dishes that even experienced international diners might think twice about—sautéed pig intestine, anyone? But the majority of these dishes are just exotic enough to give you the feeling of eating something bathed in a halo of authenticity.
Chief among our favorites is the salt-and-pepper fish fillet, which dissolves meltingly on the tongue with each bite. Another favorite is jumbo shrimp served with walnuts in a mayonnaise-based sauce, kind of a Hong Kong-style Waldorf salad. You may consider separating a dim sum excursion from a menu-based meal. Once you get a taste of what Asian Court has to offer, you’ll have no trouble convincing yourself to return.
›› ASIAN COURT 11105 Resort Road, Ellicott City, 410-461-8388. Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Appetizers: $2.95-8; entrees: $10.95-32.95; desserts: $2.95.