A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
Peter Brave’s cooking class at the River Market Cooking Club is full this Saturday, so fans of the monthly cooking club might want to make plans for future events: Rob Best of Simply the Best Catering is next up on Feb. 10; Boulevard Bread’s Scott McGehee will appear on March 3, and Chef Edward House of the Clinton Presidential Center and Cafe 42 is scheduled for April 14. The classes run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the third floor meeting room of the River Market and cost is $10. Call 375-2552.
Speaking of cooking classes, Kathy Webb, the co-owner of Lilly’s Dim Sum Then Sum, will be offering insight on “The Art of Dim Sum” on Sunday, Jan. 27, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $40 per person.
Also, Lilly’s offers a three-course fixed price menu on Mondays and Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to close.
The correct phone for Chi Chinese Cuisine is 221-3737. The phone number was reported incorrectly in a review on the restaurant last week. Also the crab Rangoon appetizer at Chi’s comes six to an order, not 10 as was reported.
NEW: NEW CHINA There is a group of New China restaurants out in the state (Russellville, Conway, Jacksonville) that we know of, but we were disappointed to learn this was not part of that chain. You’ve probably heard the debate of quantity vs. quality concerning all-you-can-eat buffets. For us, this place loses out on both. If the quality is questionable, why would we want more of it. The new owners of this old China King location (and also widely referred to as the old Western Sizzlin’ restaurant) have remodeled the inside from top to bottom. The place is really dressed up shiny, bright and with a new buffet layout. The usual Chinese offerings were available with crab legs galore; many customers were cracking away at them when we arrived. But there were some strange offerings we’ve never seen: oysters on the half shell with glistening cheese sauce. Huh? Large pieces of crab (meat?) laying on a cake-like stuffing, with (yes) cheese on top. Fried dumplings were cold and stale-tasting, maybe from being out since lunch for this, our weekday evening meal. And many other entrees were also cold. And don’t get us started on the Mongolian grill area with its raw meat and side selections laying under lights and looking a bit like someone’s science project. No one was ordering from the grill and neither were we. Service was sufficient, except for a very loud buffet worker talking practically at the top of her lungs in Chinese on a cell phone headset while working the line ... the whole time we were there ... seated about 20 feet from the buffet area. Our conclusion, putting it nicely, is we’ve got plenty of other buffet places to choose from, and unlike the Wendy’s moniker, apparently anyone can have the New China name on their Chinese restaurant, but it may not be the New China you think it is. 9210 Rodney Parham Road, 223-0888, Beer and wine. CC. LD. $-$$.
UPDATE : RUMBA This Mexi-Cuban spot in the River Market area, barely a half-year old, has tightened its menu, dropped a few items and added some new ones, and you might like the changes. Gone are the red tostado strips for the dip and salsa, replaced by plain strips. Gone too is the La Cena Casa cheese dip, replaced by the Little Rock cheese dip the owners also serve at Sticky Fingerz — a Velveeta-and-Rotel style dip that’s quite good and very spicy with fresh japalenos. The red salsa, also, has a nice wake-you-up kick. Rumba also has our new favorite sandwich, the border turkey club: grilled turkey and peppery, thick bacon strips with cheddar cheese, pineapple (which to us makes the sandwich in the way it offsets the bacon) and a light spreading of avocado mayonnaise (so light you’ll hardly notice it) on almost-Texas-toast-cut bread. It’s served with nice, crispy fries given the same sprinkling of spice found on the tostados and runs $7.95. There’s a special BLT, which was overflowing with lettuce and so bulky it turned off our lunch companion. The huge cheeseburger, however, was well received by our third party. The after-5 p.m. dinner menu sounds inviting with its Caribbean-style fish entrees, while lunch and dinner also feature various tapas in several sizes. Also, they’ve introduced a 32-ounce drink (mojita, margarita and the like) that’s sure to make your night complete, if not encourage you to join in the rumba and boogieing going on next door in the Revolution Music Room. 300 President Clinton Ave. 823-0090 Full bar CC $$-$$$ LD Mon.-Sat.