Restaurant: Empire Chinese Cuisine Restaurant
Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum
Last visited: July 31, 2010
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 8251 Alexandra Rd
Price Range: Dim sum $10-20 / Dinner $20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Dim Sum/Lunch/Dinner
- Popular to Chinese locals
- Traditional, authentic Chinese food
- Fresh seafood, in house tanks
- Lots of variety
- Great for dim sum or dinner
- Moderately priced
- Good quality, reliable, quick service
- Clean, comfortable, spacious
- Great service esp. for Chinese restaurant
- Same owners as Empire Seafood Restaurant
- Better than Empire Seafood Restaurant
- 10% off before 12pm? (I think)
- Available for private parties
- Reservations recommended
- Free parking, but fills up quickly at peak hours
**Recommendations: Baked BBQ pork buns, deep fried black cod with special garlic, deep fried taro dumplings with assorted seafood, steamed sponge cake, baked tapioca pudding with taro paste, dinner
Empire Chinese Cuisine Restaurant is a very popular restaurant for dim sum or dinner in Richmond, BC. Despite the small signage with an English name that is barely legible, this place is busy all the time no matter what day of the week. The atmosphere is clean and comfortable and it seats a lot of people so even when there’s a line-up you’re not waiting long as the service is fast. The service is actually quite attentive for a Chinese restaurant and they’re really good at remembering faces.
I’ve been coming here for years for either dim sum or dinner and have not had a bad experience yet, so I can fairly say the food is consistently great. I’ve ordered better stuff for dim sum than what I ordered on this occasion, but there’s a lot of selection and so far it’s all been good. The quality of food is high, the seafood is fresh and the prices are not cheap, but not expensive either. It’s the same owners as Empire Seafood Restaurant on Westminster Highway also in Richmond. I like both locations, but I like this one better. The atmosphere is better and the food is better as well.
If you go before 12pm they give 10% off or free tea and they have 5 special items for a discounted price. For the quality, service and price, it’s really a solid choice and one of my go-to dim sum restaurants.
On the table:
Steamed Shrimp Dumplings/Har Gow – 4.5/6
- This is pretty cheap for har gow and it’s really good. The skin is nice and thin, not too sticky and the prawns are nice and crunchy and juicy. They’re pretty big and they’re excellent with the in house XO sauce. I still like the Rainflower prawn dumplings better though.
Steamed Pork and Radish Dumplings – 3.5/6
- These were also quite good. The skin is a little thicker than the steamed shrimp dumplings, as they should be. It’s nice and chewy and not too sticky.
- Inside is stuffed with Shiitake mushrooms, green onions, minced pork and a generous amount of radish or daikon.
- It was a bit heavy on the daikon and not enough pork though.
- It’s very crunchy and juicy however I found the flavour a tad on the bland side and the radish flavour to be the overpowering flavour.
- I like the Chiu Chow Fun Guo at Dragon’s View Chinese Restaurant better – although they are a different item, but similar in style.
Steamed Rice Rolls with Chinese Donut – 3.5/6
- It’s a bit of ad odd price. This is served with a sweet soy sauce you pour over top as well as a side of sesame and Hoisin sauce for dipping.
- This dish is popular for kids and adults and it’s almost a comfort food.
- It was done quite well here, but I like the ones at Red Star Seafood better because the Chinese donut there is fluffier. The Chinese donut here is nice and crispy and freshly fried and not too greasy, but just not as fluffy as a a centre as I would have liked.
- The chive rice roll it’s wrapped in give it’s a nice slippery texture and in between is a layer of dried pork floss. The rice roll was a bit thick and not as delicate as the ones from Red Star or Rainflower, but it’s not too noticeable unless you order this dish often.
- It’s soft, spongy, yet crispy and the donut just absorbs the soy sauce so it’s nice and salty. Then you dip it into a nutty sesame sauce with the combination of sweet Hoisin sauce and it’s a divine combination of flavours and textures.
- If it’s on the menu, it’s guaranteed to be on my table.
- It’s the new and improved BBQ pork bun that started coming up a few years ago. Almost everyone I know would prefer it to the steamed version and it’s become my favourite dim sum dish. Everywhere makes it differently though.
- They are delicious here, but I prefer the Mexican Bun crumble topping, this is the Pineapple Bun crumble topping. They’re both crispy and sweet crusts that are baked onto the bun, but the Mexican one is even better for me. Both are very tender crumbly sweet crust and it’s delicious with the sweet and savoury BBQ pork stuffing. The Mexican bun topping is a finer crumb that’s more crispy rather than cakey and it’s more tender.
- You can get the Mexican bun topping version at Top Gun (my fav for this baked bun – see here).
- It really could have used more stuffing because the amount they gave was a little week.
- Our “white” friend that came called these “a savoury Krispy Kreme” and he was so right! Lol. They’re served nice and warm and the bread part is so soft and thin so it all just melts in your mouth. It’s almost like dinner and dessert in one.
Pan Fried Rice Rolls in Crispy Pork and Spicy Sauce Served with Vegetable and Pork – 3/6
- This is a pretty big portion of rice noodle rolls.
- It’s served with pan fried ground pork with green and red peppers and the flavour is good although the pork isn’t crispy.
- The pork and veggies are pan-fried in XO sauce, which is usually an in house gourmet spicy chili sauce offered at higher end dim sum restaurants. It’s an oil based sauce made of dried scallops and shrimps and it’s amazing. This dish is supposed to be cooked in it, but I saw no signs of the dried seafood and it was a tad dry and I couldn’t taste the XO sauce as much as I should have.
- It’s not really spicy, but it’s quite savoury with a little heat. I actually prefer rice rolls steamed, but I wanted to try this XO sauce pan-fried version. The spice should have been more aromatic, but they didn’t use much XO sauce. It has the sesame and Hoisin dipping sauce which gives it a sweet note and I needed quite a bit of it to give it more flavour.
**Deep Fried Black Cod with Special Garlic – 6/6
- This is a pretty heavy for dim sum, but it’s nice when you have a larger group. It’s a pretty big portion of deep fried black cod with the skin on and the pieces are pretty big. It’s boneless and the cod is tender, smooth and juicy and overall not that oily for a deep fried dish.
- It’s nice and crispy and the batter is nice and light. It’s served with lots of deep fried garlic chips, green onions and shallots. The deep fry them together and season them with salt last minute so it’s all nutty, crispy and salty. It’s a bang on topping and eaten with the fish it’s amazing.
Steamed Sticky Rice Wrap with Lotus Leaf – 3/6
- I wish I took a photo of it cut open. It was sticky rice stuffed with minced pork, dried shrimp, mushrooms and a modest preserved salted egg yolk. It was quite moist, but it could have been saucier. It was decently stuffed with a savoury meat mixture and served nice and hot.
- My favourite part is that preserved salted egg yolk, it’s a dry crumbly texture (accustomed taste perhaps) and there’s only a very small piece so people usually fight over it.
**Deep Fried Taro Dumplings with Assorted Seafood – 4.5/6
- Wu Kok or Wu Gok in Chinese is a Chinese style croquette. It’s like eating mashed potatoes with a seafood curry – which may sound odd, but it’s actually delicious.
- A lot of people ordered these here. It’s a dish that’s offered at a lot of Chinese dim sum restaurants, but the execution is different depending on the place.
- Traditionally, these are usually filled with a savoury soy-based minced pork mixture, but these ones were filled with a curry seafood mixture.
- The crispy exterior is amazing. The mashed up taro balls are rolled in an extremely crispy and light batter and deep fried until golden brown.
- There is a lot of batter, but it’s very light and flaky so it doesn’t feel as heavy. It’s much flakier and more delicate than a Panko batter.
- The taro root is boiled and then mashed up and it tastes like a sweeter, starchier and more fibrous potato.
- The curry is an Asian style curry, so it’s not spicy and if anything these may be a little coconut milk in it. The seafood curry stuffing is a mixture of shrimp, scallops, onions and I think maybe some fish or artificial crab bits.
- You get a bite of the crispy exterior and then the naturally sweet creamy mashed up taro root paste followed by a savoury curry seafood stuffing. It’s the perfect combination of savoury and sweet with crispy and creamy.
- I like the soy-based minced pork mixture better, but this was a nice twist and Chinese people love seafood so it works well.
- I’m actually not sure if this is their steamed sponge cake, or a special of the day.
- This was a layered sponge cake made with layers of airy soft sponge cake and thin layers of sweetened egg yolk paste.
- It’s actually a very traditional Chinese dessert and it’s quite good.
- It’s very lightly sweetened and it’s very airy and light in texture. It’s served warm and it’s very moist.
- The egg yolk layers are sweetened with sugar and butter so it’s almost like a paste.
- Usually I don’t like this, but this one was actually good here.
- The cake has a slight almond and eggy flavour and it all comes together very well.
Found the Empire expensive, like the Fisherman’s Terrace, and feel that the dim sum is ok, not superior , ‘cos of the price. Golden Star has wonderful Taro dumplings(and similar dim sum for $2.50-$2.75). The time I went(autumn) the air conditioning was cranked up to the max and everyone kept their coats on ! Try eating sticky rice with a generous dollop of X-tra Virgin olive oil and some good soy sauce, add fresh cracked pepper….
Bow – your sticky rice twist sounds delicious!!! I can’t wait to try that! How creative you are!
You’re right though, it is a tad expensive, but I still like it. I actually like Fisherman’s Terrace more than Empire and I almost forgot about it until you just reminded me. hmmm Golden Star… I have to be honest with you Bow, I’m not a fan of dim sum in Vancouver… but you seem to know your Chinese food so I’ll note your suggestion. Thanks for commenting as usual! 🙂
mmm…all looks so yummy. If you had to choose between Jade (in richmond) or Empire for dim sum which would it be. I haven’t tried either yet.
Vivian and Billy – Ohh that’s a tough one! I go to each for different things – Jade offers the mushroom dumpling you can’t find anywhere else and it’s tad pricier than Empire. My default is Empire, just because I haven’t been to Jade in a while… but I’ve never been disappointed at Jade for dim sum or dinner either.
Oh god I love this place…I’d say it’s one of the best dim sums I’ve ever had…
I swear the last time I went they took off %20 which blew me away, I didn’t know you could get a discount on coming in early…
May – yay! I’m happy you had a good experience as well! If you before 10:30am or 11am I think it’s 20% off!
wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww sooooooooooooo cooooooooooooooool I hungry Now :'(((
Whenever I organize dim sum now all I have to do is cut and paste your posts so that my friends can see what restaurant I’m referring to and they get to see what food they serve. It’s awesome. Thanks so much for these high-quality dim sum posts. Sometimes I look through Shermans but it’s so hard to sift through all the hole-in-the wall type places that I’m usually not too into anymore… Glad we have similar tastes and keep up the great quality (and tastes!)