Saturday, July 21, 2012


    We arrived at Empire at around 6:50 pm, it is 8:35 pm and we are sitting at home writing this review, that is not a good sign. We had very high expectations of Empire because it is owned by the same company that owns Red Lantern in the Back Bay. Red Lantern is by far one of our favorite restaurants and its incredibly delicious food inspired us to create this blog. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of Empire. It's decor, atmosphere, and portion sizes get a big A+ from us. However, the food and service were disappointing.

     We ordered five dishes and asked the waiter to stagger them. Stagger means to bring each dish one at a time, instead of all at the same time. At first the waiter seemed to understand what we meant, yet it quickly became evident he did not. Within 10 minutes of ordering the waiter brought us 3 of our 5 dishes, which crammed the table. As soon as we were done with those he brought over the 2 remaining dishes. Basically, Empire served us a five course meal in a matter of 25 minutes. The whole meal felt rushed. Also, Empire has a strict business casual dress code and their website mentions that athletic attire is discouraged. However, in the table next to us there was a man dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops. What's the point of a dress code if the management does not enforce it?
Now, lets talk about Empire's not-so-amazing food...

First we tried Empire's Pot Stickers, which are classic pork dumplings topped with caramelized onions, and house made chili garlic sauce. We wish we could describe this dish but we can't. We can't remember it! All we remember is that it was spicy. The Pot Stickers did not stand out in any way. Not a good start to the meal!

Next, we tried the Red Chili Shrimp with thai basil, scallions, potato chips, pequin chilis, and garlic aioli. Based on the ingredients on this dish we thought it would be packed full of flavor, however it was not; it was severely under seasoned. The shrimp had the texture and taste of low quality, frozen, out of a bag shrimp. 

The highlight of our dinner was Empire's Avocado Maki Roll. The avocado was perfectly ripe and the sushi was well made. If it wasn't for the server we would have gladly ordered another avocado roll. It was by far the best thing we ate all night!

The second maki roll we ordered was the Shrimp Tempura.  The shrimp was very crispy but had no flavor. We have had much better shrimp tempura at other restaurants. This was not a memorable part of our meal. 

Lastly we had Empire's House Fried Rice, which is a classic wok fried rice with pork, chicken, shrimp, and sesame topped with a fried egg. This was a very disappointing dish. This rice dish was severely under seasoned and lacked flavor. The fried egg on top was a nice touch as far as presentation goes, however it brought nothing to the dish. We can get better fried rice, with a smaller price tag delivered any time we want. This is a classic Asian dish and Empire's version just dosent make the cut. 

Overall, Empire was a huge disappointment. Getting there was a mess, the address on their website confused our GPS system and we got lost. When we called the restaurant they told us the address on the website did not work with GPS and instructed us to type in a different address. I don't know about you, but we think Empire should make a note of this on their website, considering most of us now a day rely on GPS. We love their partner restaurant, Red Lantern, and would recommend it to anyone.
Therefore, we have to wonder, what went wrong with Empire??? 

For more information on Empire visit their website,

Inside Empire 

Empire Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon

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