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If you've eaten at Lilly's Dim Sum Then Some, you know that owner Kathy Webb and crew turn out some great food. Peanuts and hot spices and coconut milk and noodles — these are the ingredients of happiness, and Lilly's puts them all together in the right way.
The cuisine is suited to all manner of diners, from vegans to those who enjoy animal viands (though who likes to think of it that way?), which exactly describes our table at Lilly's a couple of weeks ago. Our slender vegan was able to stuff herself at Lilly's, not an easy thing for vegan, thanks to Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls and ginger noodles with tofu.
We never have a hard time stuffing ourselves, and we got a good start by ordering the steamed pork dumplings, so delicious — Lilly's version of this potsticker is light — that we ordered a second round after wolfing down the first.
But what we'd really like to write about here is the fried shrimp. We ordered the Thai panang curry with shrimp after a quick glance at the menu, so quickly we didn't notice the shrimp would be fried. We're not fans of fried shrimp. So imagine our surprise and delight when we found Lilly's fried shrimp to be delicate and delicious, little treats atop Ramen noodles tossed with stir-fried vegetables in a spicy rich curry made with coconut milk. It's not diet food, but it's food worth eating.
The ever popular pad Thai came to the table too, and our friend who's a freak for pad Thai says Lilly's is the best example of the dish he's ever had: a generous mound of rice noodles, spices and chicken, hotter than most, and all tossed in a wonderful, creamy peanut sauce. He was happy with the serving size, though it paled in comparison to the miso soup, sweet broth, Udon noodles, tofu and greens in a bowl the size of a hat.
Since it was lunch, we didn't order one of our favorites at Lilly's: the Korean bibimbop with grilled steak, which is a stir-fry dish of thinly-sliced steak and vegetables in a spicy chili-soy sauce over rice. But even though it was lunch, we just had to have the world's richest dessert: the Japanese mochi balls. Red bean paste may not sound like a dessert, but you roll it up in balls of sticky rice flour coated in sesame seeds and you have yourself something out-of-this-world. Out of this Western world, at least.
Nancy Tesmer, co-owner with Webb (who also serves in the legislature), is the wine maven, and those who dine at night will be advised on whatÕs new on the wine menu and what goes well with what. We like a light, brisk pinot gris ourselves. You probably know more than we do, though, so weÕll leave it at that.
We were six, so a gratuity of 18 percent was added to our bill. We usually tip 20 percent, unless service is terrible, but 18 percent might be a bit more than some folks leave behind, so be prepared.
Lilly's is community-minded, often donating a portion of its take to a local non-profit. On Sept. 14, 15 percent of all proceeds will go to UAMS' Family Home, which gives lodging to patients undergoing outpatient cancer treatment or to families of neonate patients.
Lilly's also offers cooking classes: on Sept. 21, you can learn “All About Spring Rolls,” $45 a person.
Lilly's Dim Sum Then Some
11121 N. Rodney Parham Road
Lilly's has a private dining room and offers catering as well.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
On the expensive side. Beer and wine served. Credit cards accepted.