Presented with a laminated menu at Dim Sum King, a newish University Parkway restaurant that promises "dim sum all day," I lose all self-control. Laid out in a grid, with 49 options, the menu is like a brightly colored board game, where you hop from one dish to another on a snaking path to ecstasy.
The dishes are all marked as either small, medium, large or special, with price points that vary from $3.25 to $7.99 for each category, while a handy thumbs-up symbol clues you into each "chef's recommendation." My marker hovers back and forth over the selection, and I jab excitedly at the page when I spy something I like.
I'm not the only one who's excited. My friend, Justin, and I are dining at the King on a Wednesday around lunchtime, and this place is packed, so packed that we have to wait a few minutes for a table to clear out. It's a terrific spot for a quick business lunch, but it's also not so hectic that you'll feel rushed if you want to linger over a pork bun with your special someone.
Justin and I abide by the wisdom of the chef's thumbs-up, and, for the most part, it doesn't steer us wrong. Pan-fried dumplings stuffed with chives and shrimp ($4.25) are exceptional, bursting with flavor. The Shanghai-style dumplings ($4.25), meanwhile, are delicate, wrinkled creations, filled with a rich, porky liquid. Shu mai ($3.75), often small and disappointing at other restaurants, are here meaty and substantial.
Other winners include fried tofu skin wrapped around shrimp ($4.25) and, for dessert, a bun filled with a sweet egg custard ($4.25). On the other hand, steamed rice rolls with shrimp ($4.25) don't do much for us, and while a plate of rice noodles tossed with XO sauce ($7.99) is tasty, we're too busy stuffing our faces with other dishes to finish it.
Besides dim sum, the King offers a whole other menu of Chinese dishes. I'll have to go back for those. But something tells me when I see that dim sum menu, I won't be able to help myself.
Dim Sum King is located at 8194 Tourist Center Drive, Bradenton, and is open 11 a.m.-2:45 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Monday. For more info, call (941) 306-5848 or visit the restaurant's website.