By ALLISON MYERS
The Joy Luck is the newest addition to the Highlands foodie scene. They boast belly-warming comfort food in a friendly and cozy atmosphere. When I heard the name, I immediately thought of the very popular book, The Joy Luck Club. I was soon to find out the connection between the two is a focus on family and food.
As Louisvillians, we love our patio dining. The Joy Luck is nestled back on Bardstown Road creating the perfect area for patio seating. The outdoor arrangement is lovely with bright orange umbrellas to help you enjoy your food even on the sunniest of days. Attention animal lovers, the patio is pet friendly.
The restaurant is split into rooms. A large dining area is straight ahead as you walk in with a connecting room that has additional seating. Both rooms had chalk wall areas where you could leave messages for the staff or declare your love one for one another. I couldn’t resist and had to share my love for Share Louisville on the wall. The restaurant also has a bar area and my favorite spot is a comfy, cozy indoor porch that overlooks the patio.
"We offer truly unique and authentic mom and pop style Asian food." said owner Alvin Lin, who works with his dad known as Uncle Lin who runs the kitchen. You can also find his mom both out front and in the back of the house. It’s nice to see such a fun, family dynamic at work.
For starters we ordered the Pork Soup Dumplings ($7), the Formosa Chicken Roll ($6) and the Taiwanese Sausage Roll ($6). The Pork Soup Dumplings are what I would consider a signature appetizer that’s a fun must try. It’s a dumpling with hot broth and pork inside. Don’t make a rookie mistake and immediately pop the entire thing in your mouth.
The Formosa Chicken Roll are fried soy wraps filled with chicken, fresh herbs and house spices. They were fresh and good but average compared to the other starters.
My favorite starter of the evening was the Taiwanese Sausage Roll. It’s sausage wrapped with a layer of grounded white chicken breast and then wrapped with seaweed, encrusted with panko crumbs and lightly fried. It’s full of flavor and textures and when you pop one in your mouth you’ll quickly want another. Try ordering the sauce on the side so the panko crumbs don’t get soggy.
Although I didn’t order it, I’ve heard the Crab Rangoon is some of the best in Louisville. So I will definitely be checking it out on my next visit.
For entrees, we ordered the Cantonese Roast Duck ($16) and the Kentuckyaki Beef ($16).
"We bathe our ducks twice in honey. In between each bath, we let it sit, cool down and dry. The skin is caramelized and that the brown, crispy part is the honey. We use local honey from Louisville. It’s an 8 hour bathing process. Then we rub the inside and outside of the skin with special herbs and spices. And let it slow roast for 8 hours at a low temperature" described Lin. It was tender and had flavor all the way to the bone – delicious and beautifully presented.
The Kentuckyaki Beef is made with Bourbon Barrel Foods' Kentuckyaki sauce. It’s sweetened with sorghum, flavored with bourdon and seasoned with ginger and garlic. There is a fun table side presentation of this dish adding the sauce over the beef and vegetables. A tasty dish for those who don’t overly like Asian flavors. It comes served with steamed rice which had a nice little surprise hint of lavender flavor. The only negative was the beef was a little fatty for my taste.
They also have lunch specials for $10. The specials include spring roll, rice and a choice of soup. Lunch is always a great option to get out and try a new place. So you can try a place at a reduced price. I’m looking forward to going back at lunch and sitting on their beautiful patio.
But that's not all. "We’re working on a late night menu. Opening up food options for those on the weekend staying out late. Currently, we’re testing out recipes including Asian inspired hot wings. The wings have Sriracha sauce and a hint of chili oil." said Lin.
I had the pleasure to taste test the hot wings. Let me tell you they were the perfect mixture of crispy, sweet, meaty, moist, savory and hot. I’m still thinking about those wings and can’t wait until they make their late night debut.
The Joy Luck goal is to have comfort food in a friendly and cozy atmosphere. In this foodie’s opinion they have hit their mark. I look forward to see how they continue to grow and thrive in our community.
The Joy Luck is located at 1285 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204. View the entire menu of The Joy Luck at www.thejoyluck.com. Special thanks to Kara DeLost for her assistance in setting up the meeting with Alvin Lin. Thank you to Alvin and The Joy Luck team for a lovely evening.