Restaurant: Empire Chinese Cuisine
Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum/Seafood
Last visited: April 2, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 8251 Alexandra Rd
Price Range: $10-20 dim sum, $20-30+ dinner
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 banquets/private parties
- Reservations recommended
- Free parking, but fills up quickly at peak hours
**Recommendations: Dim Sum, crab, lobster, steamed soy sauce prawns, steamed broccoli with crab meat and egg whites, Peking duck wraps, steamed scallops on tofu with back bean sauce, crispy chicken with soy sauce tea leaves, and make sure you pre-order the baked tapioca pudding with taro paste for dessert… and the Alaskan King Crab dinner when it’s available of course.
The place was packed with a line up and every single person had one thing in mind. So what’s the “must have” of the season? For men and women? Even sharper than anyone in style, it’s the Alaskan King Crab! And just like fashion, it does go out of season, so hurry up before they’re gone! But at least this “fashion” does come back, but only after a year! Who can hardly wait? And don’t!
Yup! It’s that time of year again and I’m a bit late, but Alaskan King Crab season is back and I’m hoping to eat more than this one! I came here almost at the exact same time for Alaskan King Crab dinner last year, see here, and I was looking forward to coming again this year. I guess you could say Empire Chinese Cuisine is one of our “go-to” spots for Chinese dinners, although it may not be the best, or my all time favourite. I do think the food and service is very good and I’ve never had any problems, so it still has a gold star in my books.
The Alaskan King Crab dinner is an epic Chinese meal and gourmet delicacy. I’m going to be unfair for a moment and compare all seafood from every cuisine, but I’m going to say the Chinese Alaskan King Crab is pretty much the best way to enjoy crab. The Chinese method prepares the Alaskan King Crab in 3 different ways, and 4 ways if you want the noodles as well. In Chinese culture, let alone Asian culture, nothing goes to waste, and that’s perfectly represented in the Alaskan King Crab dinner. It’s truly an experience that everyone should try at least once, and quickly before the season is over.
Another example of this theory is presented in the Peking Duck. Quite often in Metro Vancouver it will be prepared in 2 ways: the Peking duck with crepe and then the Peking duck lettuce wraps. Also, be sure you ask to have the carcass bagged up to take home. It makes for great soup and it’s not an uncommon request. Traditionally in Hong Kong and parts of China they will also offer to make the duck soup at the restaurants as a third course, but I don’t know why they don’t offer that in Vancouver.
Anyways on this occasion we ordered both the Alaskan King Crab and the Peking Duck. Definitely both a treat and must try if you’ve never had it before. I even know of people that cruise up to Vancouver just to hit up Alaskan King Crab season. It’s one of those dinners you secretly hope not too many people are going to just so you can have more than a few pieces… or is that just me? I want to share the love for it, but maybe not my actual share of it =p
The following dinner can feed around 8 people and it was about $280 for a 9lbs Alaskan King Crab (including HST).
On the table:
- I’ve had this soup here at a banquet dinner last year, see here.
- This is a gourmet soup and it’s made with expensive ingredients like crab and fish maw.
- The fish maw is a Chinese delicacy. It’s chewy, jelly-like and has slightly crunchy parts and it’s also slimy. If you don’t grow up with it, it will probably freak you out a bit. I like it though.
- The soup has a silky quality because there’s also added egg whites. It has a bit of a gelatinous and thick quality and the flavour is very mild.
- I usually think this soup here is good, but this time it didn’t have any seafood flavour which was disappointing and I found it too salty.
- This is my favourite course to the Alaskan King Crab dinner.
- They take the knuckles and deep fry them in salt, chilies, and lots of garlic.
- It’s lightly battered and deep fried so it’s nice and crispy and then the meat is juicy, meaty and almost crunchy like lobster.
- It’s incredibly aromatic, spicy and salty with a heat that lingers especially if you eat the chillies.
- It’s not a spiciness that kills your taste buds because the garlic and salt balances it all out. It’s fantastic!
- Oh god. Seriously if you haven’t experienced these yet, you’re missing out. Like really missing out. Heaven.
- The reason for coming here… and this is definitely worth the wait and awful parking.
- I bet I could eat this 9lbs Alaskan King Crab myself.
- It’s one of those dishes where the lazy susan spins really fast because everyone looks forwards to a second and third helping.
- It’s steamed Alaskan King Crab legs topped with tons of minced garlic and lots of natural juices, which makes the sauce it sits on.
- The meat was juicy and flaky and super tender and infused with garlic flavour and juices.
- The garlic is sweet and not spicy and I just spoon heaps of it on before each bite. *Pah*… garlic breath galore (but that *pah* wasn’t on you lol).
- So this dish is available upon request and for an additional charge.
- They take the leftover sauce from the steamed garlic Alaskan King Crab legs and toss it with egg noodles, chives and Enoki mushrooms!
- It’s a very light and simple dish because the sauce isn’t very oily and it’s not pan fried.
- It’s the same Chinese egg noodles used for chow mien, but they’re boiled and tossed in the sauce rather than fried.
- Last year we had it with E-fu noodles, which I found too soft (see here), so I actually liked these “chow mein” noodles better because they were al dente and still had a nice bite.
- It just made the dish extra crunchy especially with the crunchy scallions and mushrooms and the whole thing was really juicy with lots of sweet garlic and onion flavour.
- It’s fried rice baked inside the Alaskan King Crab shell head.
- It’s Chinese style gourmet “baked Portuguese rice”.
- The top looks like baked on cheese, but it’s actually the tomalley (guts/sperm/organs/brains) of the crab and then they make it into a indulgent cream sauce with perhaps a hint of curry or turmeric for colour, but it’s not spicy.
- It’s a creamy, rich and thick sauce that tastes like a curry bechamel with some seafood flavour.
- The fried rice was well made and nice and moist. It wasn’t smoky in flavour and each grain of rice was separate and it was well executed, but a little smokiness would be nice.
- The fried rice is usually quite plain for this and they put some turmeric or curry for colour.
- The top tastes like a cheesy creamy sauce, but it’s very buttery, rich and extremely high in cholesterol… that’s why it’s so damn good though. It’s pretty much the sauce for the fried rice and it’s simply delicious.
- I’ve had this dish 3 times now here. 1st time (regular dinner), 2nd time (banquet), and this is the 3rd time, another regular dinner.
- It’s a formal thing to order though, so I feel pretty lucky and happy when it’s on the table.
- A lot of places claim to roast and smoke it in house, but it’s a very labour intensive technique, so a lot of places will outsource it. Fine dining Chinese establishments like this should be making it in house though.
- The dish itself is always a 6/6, but it was a 3.5/6 on this occasion because the duck was really fatty and extremely greasy. The other times it wasn’t like this.
- The best Peking Duck I’ve had is either from Red Star Seafood or Kirin Restaurant thus far.
- For more details see my post for Peking Duck in Beijing.
- The Peking Duck was just way too fatty and it was literally dripping oil as I picked it up from the platter.
- Really fatty ducks aren’t too popular in Chinese restaurants in Vancouver anymore and the selection of the duck becomes really important.
- See the excellent hand selected duck at Red Star Seafood here.
- The meat looks a bit dry, but it wasn’t. It was actually pretty good, but it wasn’t very smoky in flavour.
- The skin was nice and crispy and savoury, but the oozing oil and creamy fat was just too much.
- The fat was quite tender and not chewy, but it was just too much for me and not enjoyable.
- It’s the mandatory second course to the Peking Duck dish. This is good here, but maybe not the best.
- Almost everyone has had a lettuce wrap, but just not always with gourmet Peking Duck!
- They use tons of water chestnuts, more so than most places, so it makes it very crunchy and almost extra juicy.
- It had a slightly smoky flavour which was nice, but I do think it could benefit from slightly more aromatics like the celery, carrots and onions though.
- There was hardly any duck pieces, which I find is often the case here, but the duck it did have was quite moist.
- It’s a deep fried chicken that is pre-marinated in a nice brine.
- It was free range, so naturally firmer and drier, but still tender and moist for what it was.
- It was so well infused with a salty flavour and it was a very savoury and aromatic chicken.
- It’s served with a natural chicken au jus made from perhaps some cooking wine, the brine it soaked in, as well as the natural chicken oils. It was savory, sweet and very intense in flvour.
- It comes with a side of sweetened aromatic soy sauce infused tea leaves that you can eat alone. It has a slightly bitter aftertaste, but it’s a bitterness you look for because it’s so aromatic.
- My favourite chicken dish at a Chinese restaurant is probably still The Jade Smoked Grandpa Chicken from Jade Seafood Restaurant down the street. Not really comparable, but just saying.
- This is just a simple vegetarian side that comes standard with the Alaskan King Crab dinner.
- The dinner is heavy, so this is to balance the richness of the King crab.
- The bok choy was tender and the braised bean curds were soft and juicy.
- The sauce is simple and it’s more like a savoury vegetable soup. I think there’s a touch of soy bean milk in it because it has a milky texture, but it’s not creamy.
- It’s just a basic home style side dish and it’s good, but it is what it is.
- Ack… sorry I don’t do red bean as you may or may not know… I love beans in burritos and savoury stuff, just not as dessert.
- This one looked like a side to a BBQ, it was extra dark, extra beany and extra hearty… gross to me, but good news to lovers of the dessert.
- People that ate it said it wasn’t that sweet and that it was good, but not hot enough.
**Baked Tapioca Pudding with Taro Paste – This is a dessert that is extremely popular here and it must be pre-ordered or they won’t serve it to you. I was so disappointed and I couldn’t bribe them nor my surrounding tables who had pre-ordered it!!