Folsom Palace: Chinese Fusion with Flair
Singapore Style Walnut Prawns Salad
3941 Park Drive, Suite 10, El Dorado Hills, 916-936-0808, folsompalace.com
Surprise. This was my first impression as I walked through the doors of El Dorado Hills’ newest Asian restaurant. White leather chairs, colored LED lights illuminating Chinese-themed art, and a modern mix of light and dark wood joined the sounds of four chefs working at a feverish pace in the open kitchen. The result? An über-contemporary, cool, and lively take on family-style Chinese dining.
My wife and I started with a fun twist on one of her favorites: honey walnut prawns. In this case, the crowd-pleasing plate was served as a Singapore-style salad. Although I adore the entrée, it can be heavy and doesn’t reheat well as leftovers; conversely, the salad was light and boasted all the favorable textures and flavors found in the original with plenty of fresh veggies (lettuce, carrots, cucumber, and red cabbage) to cut through the protein’s deep-fried richness and creamy, sweet sauce.
The shrimp dumpling appetizer—served in a bamboo steamer basket with eight silky, plump, shrimp-stuffed bundles of delicate delights—was an instant hit. Mix a little chili paste and soy sauce tableside, and everyone will be fighting for the last one.
Next, we moved to the spicy side with an order of Sichuan shrimp—a sizzling portion of prawns alongside colorful bell peppers, bamboo shoots, onions, shiitake mushrooms, zucchini, and (a curious but welcome South of the Border addition) chayote in a fiery-sweet Sichuan sauce. A quick note here about Szechuan and Sichuan; in short, they’re interchangeable and both refer to the Sichuan province in China—famous for the wonderfully piquant Sichuan peppercorn and a cooking style featuring intense flavoring of garlic and chili peppers. If you’re brave, ask for it SPICY!
Once again acquiescing to my wife’s tastes, we ordered lemon chicken, her “safety dish.” She’s not a very adventurous diner, so the fried chicken breast in a luscious lemony glaze hit the mark for her timid taste buds who weren’t willing to venture in or near the red (hot) zone.
Thankfully, all of their spicy dishes are defined by a red chili pepper on the menu, ensuring it’s easy to avoid or invite the heat. What’s more, each lunch special is served with soup and your choice of white rice, fried rice, chow mein, or brown rice—meaning there’s plenty of food and flavors to go ’round.
Stop in for lunch or dinner and see what surprises await—you’ll be glad you did.
NOTE: Check out their original location at 1169 Riley Street in Folsom.
by Lorn Randall // photos by DANTE FONTANA
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. (Sunday), 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (Monday-Thursday), 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Friday-Saturday)
Try This: War Won Ton Soup, Singapore Style Walnut Prawns Salad, Shrimp Dumplings, Peking Duck, Lemon Chicken, Sichuan Kung Pao Prawns, Combination Vegetables, Thai Tofu Curry, Mongolian Beef, Northern China Chow Mein
Drinks: Beer and wine
Heads-Up: Sidewalk patio with Wi-Fi; low sodium and no MSG food preparation; daily lunch specials from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; vegan options; platters available for private parties; free delivery (limited area) with $30 minimum