Review: Empire Mandarin Restaurant

by gigi on August 13, 2007

Jenkins and I went to Empire Mandarin Restaurant the other day with our families. It is located in Richmond at 8251 Alexandra Rd, which is a street filled with mostly Asian restaurants. The building with the restaurant is split into two, one is the Empire Mandarin Restaurant, which features Shanghainese cuisine. The other restaurant, whose name escapes me at the moment, serves traditional Cantonese cuisine.

There were eight of us so we ordered a set meal for eight. At $149 for ten dishes, this was an unbelievable deal. I tried to take pictures of all the dishes but I may have missed some along the way.

First, we had Shanghai pork dumplings. Inside the dumpling is a little pocket of soup which bursts in your mouth when you bite into it. It can be messy if you don’t pop the whole dumpling in your mouth at once. :)

empire mandarin restaurant

Next came the crab. Unlike most crab I’ve had at Chinese restaurants, this came with some chewy “noodles” and edamame beans. The “noodles” are loonie-sized and bring an interesting texture to the dish and soaks up all the yummy crab juice. I don’t think they’re really called noodles but I’m not sure what the name is in English.

empire mandarin restaurant

We also ordered some extra buns to eat with the crab. You have a choice of steamed or fried…of course we picked fried. :) It was crispy on the outside and steamy on the inside.

empire mandarin restaurant

Next came the soup. It was light and refreshing with vermicelli noodles, pork, and veggies.

empire mandarin restaurant

Our next dish was stir-fried shrimp with ginger, green onions, and some pepper. Although it was made with simple ingredients, it was still quite tasty.

empire mandarin restaurant

This was probably one of my favourite dishes of the evening. I know it was my dad’s favourite! Smoked duck with chinese buns…so yummy! You may even say “ho yummy”. 😉 You could really taste the smoky flavour of the duck and the meat itself was very moist. The saltiness of the dish went perfectly with the buns, which helped to diffuse the flavour a bit.

empire mandarin restaurant

After all these meat dishes, it was time for some veggies. This was another simple dish with baby bok choy with bean curd and some kind of fungus. It wasn’t heavy and was a good dish to eat after the duck.

empire mandarin restaurant

By now, we were all starting to get pretty full. Each dish took extremely long to come so we had no choice but to pace ourselves throughout the dinner. Nonetheless, we were starting to fill up with still another 3 or 4 dishes left to go!

The fish was deep fried and then drizzled with sweet and sour sauce. I prefer steamed fish more in Chinese cuisine and this was the only dish of the evening I didn’t like.

empire mandarin restaurant

No Chinese set dinner is complete without noodles. We had soy sauce fried noodles. Although my bowl of noodles was good, the sauce didn’t seem to be mixed very well so some people’s noodles were too salty and sauce heavy.
empire mandarin restaurant

As I mentioned earlier, the food took very long to come. By now, we had been at the restaurant for almost three hours! We had one more dish before dessert…a pork hock. However, due to the long wait and our full stomachs, we asked the server to pack it up for us. I was told the next day that it was very good. :)

empire mandarin restaurant

And finally, it was time for dessert. This was a steamed glutinous pastry with red bean paste inside. There was nothing special about this dessert, but since I was so small, I appreciated the small size of it.

empire mandarin restaurant

All in all, the meal itself was terrific. The food was different from the usual Cantonese cuisine I am accustomed to. With the exception of the fish, I thoroughly enjoyed each dish. My biggest gripe with this place was the slow slow slow service. The restaurant seemed to be very understaffed and even asking for the bill took about 20 minutes. I would recommend this place, but it is definitely better to go early since it may be a long wait for your food to come. :)

Summary:
Food: [rating:5]
Service: [rating:1]
Price: $$

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