“I love Champagne,” Mr. Lim said before the meal, “and also pinot noir and Bordeaux and all of it.”
Mr. Lim remains engaged with his restaurant’s wine service, from a distance. Customers text him for wine-pairing advice “all the time,” he said. In January, he wrote a mission statement for his staff, detailing the wines he wanted to emphasize with diners in 2020, including wine from the Jura region of France, German riesling and cru Beaujolais, all of which he believes offer good value and complement Lucky Palace’s food.
Joe Davis, the winemaker at Arcadian Winery in Santa Barbara County, Calif., said Mr. Lim’s unbridled enthusiasm is unique. “Lim is generous to a fault. He’ll open up anything for you to try,” he said. “He’s going to convince you one way or another to love wine as much as he does.”
Fine wine was not on Mr. Lim’s mind when he and his wife, Evelyn, opened Lucky Palace 23 years ago. They had met in the 1980s as students at Southern Illinois University. He was born in Batu Pahat, a town in Peninsular Malaysia; she is from Taiwan.
The couple were en route to San Antonio to look at a restaurant to buy when they stopped in Shreveport. They decided instead to open their Chinese-American restaurant in a Ramada Inn in Bossier City.
For the first few years, Mr. Lim woke at 4 a.m. to cook for the breakfast buffet. He was also the delivery driver. “I went to the gas station and bought a map, and just started driving,” he said. “The first delivery took me two hours, so I comped the meal.”
Lucky Palace’s evolution — it no longer serves breakfast or a buffet — began about a year after it opened, when an employee from one of the nearby casinos advised Mr. Lim to carry more expensive wines to sell to money-flush gamblers.
“I said, ‘What do you mean? I have a white zin and a few other things,’” Mr. Lim recalled. His favorite wine at the time, he said, was Blue Nun.