Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Empire - Revisited

If we were to give out an award for most the improved restaurant we have visited it would surely go to Empire Asian Restaurant and Lounge in Boston's Sea Port District. We first visited Empire about two years ago, a month or so after its grand opening. Our first time around we were beyond disappointed with both the service and the food. Therefore, in the spirit of full disclosure, we were more than hesitant when we decided to give this Big Night Entertainment restaurant another chance. 

 For the first time in the short history of our blog we actually told our waiter, "yes, we have been here before and it was awful." We suspect our comment did not land on deaf ears, the service was above par. Our waiter was very knowledgeable on the menu and made some terrific suggestions. We are pleased to give Empire an A+ for service. 

To start our meal we decided to order a few cocktails. The White Sake Sangria composed of sauvignon blanc, sake, guava, mango, and pineapple was deliciously refreshing. In contrast, the Hot Night in Bangkok Martini made out of Avíon Silver, plum sake, passion fruit, and sriracha packed a real punch. This martini is certainly not for the faint of heart, the sriracha is the dominant flavor and after a few sips the spiciness really starts to take over your palate. 

White Sake Sangria

Hot Night in Bangkok


Previously at Empire we stuck with the more traditional items on their menu. This time around we branched out and ordered some of their more creative offerings, like the Lobster Cupcakes. These "cupcakes" are created from pressed sushi rice, spicy garlic butter, and broiled Maine lobster. Our waiter suggested we ordered these and we are glad we did. Unfortunately, these "cupcakes" do not hold very well together and it is difficult to get a balanced bite. However, the flavor is superb. The have a deliciously mild heat which perfectly compliments the delicate flavor of the lobster. Outstanding dish!

Lobster Cupcakes

Lobster Cupcakes

A few days before dinning at Empire we asked the restaurant for some suggestions via Twitter. One of the suggestions were the Spicy Salmon Rice bites composed of seared sushi rice, a spicy salmon topping, and togarashi special sauce. This was one of the least successful dishes of the night. The dish is crispy, has both notes of sweet and savory, and achieves a good balance between hot and cold. Sadly, the combination of flavors is just ok. Apart from its stunning presentation there is nothing really memorable about this dish. 

Spicy Salmon Rice Bites

Next came another one of our waiter's suggestions, the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings. As one of the specials on the menu these wok fried wings with jalapeño and cilantro shocked us when they reached the table. The neither looked, nor tasted as they were described. Our waiter described this dish as being similar to "Korean fried chicken," which is usually extremely crispy and full of flavor. These wings were a bit on the soggy side. The flavor of the breading and topping was delicious, however once you reached the actual chicken the flavor seamed to disappear. Lackluster is the word that comes to mind when we remember this dish. 

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings

Next we ordered the Red Dragon Roll, which was another one of Empire's Twitter suggestions. This roll is made out of Blue Fin Tuna, red chili miso, sake, and daikon sprouts. This is the perfect summer sushi roll! The tuna was incredibly fresh and the flavors worked well together. We would order this dish again. 

Red Dragon Roll

The manager surprised us by sending out a complimentary Empire "House Maki" roll. First of all, we would like to thank Empire's manager for the lovely gesture. Second, we would like to say that this ended up being one of our favorite bites of the night. The House Maki composed of a whole tempura roll, spicy tuna, avocado, and wasabi tobikko was exquisite. It reminded us of really good comfort food. A very enjoyable dish! 

Empire "House Maki" 

Our last savory dish was the Beef and Kim Chee Fried Rice, which is made with pickled kim chee, tender beef, a fried egg, green onion, and garlic chives. The kim chee was cut into large pieces with made it very hard to get an even bite. The fried egg was delicious. This is your run of the mill fried rice. Good but not spectacular. 

Beef & Kim Chee Fried Rice 

Last but not least, we were again surprised be the manager with Empire's Pandan Profiteroles. Once again, our thanks to the manager. This dessert is composed of a chocolate sauce, sweet berries, and pandan ice cream. We would have substituted the profiteroles with a soft sponge cake that could soak up the delicious pandan ice cream. Although messy to eat, this dessert was very good. The chocolate sauce had a luxurious texture and the berries lightened up the rather heavy dish. This dessert was a delicious way to end our meal! 

Pandan Profiteroles

Pandan Profiteroles


To read our previous review of Empire visit http://www.bostonfoodandlove.com/2012/07/empire.html.

For more information on Empire visit http://www.empireboston.com.


Empire Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon Empire on Foodio54

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