Sunday, 17 April 2011
EMPIRE CHINESE CUISINE, RICHMOND
How can something that looks so good taste so bleck?
Maybe I just don’t appreciate the little itty bitty fishies, with their soft bony skeletons inside still; the flesh akin to tasting gritty baby powder encased in fish skin? The fish didn’t taste so fresh. Perhaps this is why they fried it. However, good deep fried fish should be fresh. The frying shouldn’t be a method used to disguise inferior product. Rating: 1/6 (for the awesome deep fried garlic and chili pepper bits mostly, which I picked at rather than eat more of the fish).
Gai lan with mushrooms. This was my favourite dish here. The gai lan were quality pieces cut in pretty bias chunks and the mushrooms were soft and full of flavour. The girls fought over the mushrooms. I liked the crispy tender veggies. Rating: 6/6
Steamed Beef Meatballs. A standard dish. 5/6
This dish relies on the “wok fire” of a good commercial kitchen and a chef adept at tossing the noodles quickly with a superior soy sauce concoction. Because of its few ingredients, technique is paramount. A failure would be soggy noodles or flavourless sauce. This version is tasty. Rating: 5/6
Note the flakiness. That is always a good sign. The egg tarts were very good. Rating: 5/6
These dumplings were a mistake to order. The skin fell apart and was on the mushy side. 3/6
Stuffed with a ground pork filling, these glutinous rice dumplings were very nice. Rating: 5/6
This is an upscale Chinese Seafood restaurant with the requisite high ceilings, 80’s-inspired decor fused with rosewood furniture and honking big chandeliers. Wait staff are formally dressed in uniforms and service is efficient and quite often friendlier than mid-range restaurants. These restaurants rely on customers filling out order forms for dim sum rather than flag down passing carts. The advantage with this system is that you get fresh food and rarely are you disappointed by having the table next to you snag the last Har Gow dish. You won’t have to wait for an eternity for the kitchen to churn out your favourite dish. Sometimes I’d sit for a half hour waiting for my favourite dish to come out on a cart at these places…only to give up and as we receive the change back from our bill, see a full cart of that very dish come out! It is more civilized although you can argue it may not be as fun. I’m sure there’s less food wastage this order-form way too.
There is a parking lot out front, but I challenge you to find a space as it is crowded from the time the restaurant opens. There is some metre parking on the street out front, along Alexandra Road.
I like the variety on the menu. There are classics and there are chef specialties. There is even a section where you can order things dirt cheap (like claypot rice and congee) that I can’t read…because it’s all in Chinese. It’s on the menu, but located at the top and not translated like the rest of the regular dim sum menu. I have no idea why they don’t translate those things. Although if you ask, of course a waiter will translate it.