The resurrected Empress Pavilion has only been incarnate for about a week and new owner Andy Lau promises it won’t be just another branch of Ocean Seafood, his other palace of dim sum in Chinatown. Empress Pavilion’s refresh has also been cosmetic. It’s brighter with that new restaurant sparkle, literally. Eleven new golden chandeliers dripping with crystal ornamentation catch the eye as much as the steam carts loaded down with dumpling tins.
I asked Lau why he is so devoted to the dim sum business. He explained, “Dim sum is the best way to try Chinese food. You get to try many dishes without getting stuck with one.”
Here are 8 new things you can look for at the new Empress Pavilion:
New chef: Chef Su, a dim sum chef with 25 years of experience from Hong Kong to Las Vegas. Su was relentlessly wooed by Lau away from the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
New kitchen: An entirely renovated, $2 million kitchen full of shiny new equipment.
New technology: An online reservation and ordering system—not sure if this applies to dim sum service.
Less pork: Empress Pavilion plans to scale back on the number of pork dishes offered at the restaurant, but without doing away with popular classics like siu mai.
Less grease: Fried foods will also be downplayed at the new Empress Pavilion in favor of steamed and baked dim sum.
New food: “More modern dishes that are more Western-style.” I doubt this means expect crab rangoon under those bamboo baskets, but it might mean fusion-type items will be represented.
More veggies: Lots and lots of vegetables in the form of dumplings. Lau wants to attract vegetarians and health-conscious eaters to the new Empress Pavilion. Spinach, mixed vegetables, and seasonal vegetable dumplings are on the roster.
More seafood: Perhaps the most exciting of the new offerings will be the seafood dumplings. “King crab dumpling, lobster dumpling, and abalone dumpling are new items for the new Empress Pavilion,” beamed Lau.
Ocean Seafood, on the opposite side of Chinatown, will continue to offer traditional dim sum for those who want it, but Empress Pavilion’s new focus is on healthy and “modern” dim sum with the goal of attracting new guests. And whatever the empress wants, the empress gets.
Empress Pavilion, 988 N. Hill St., Ste. 201, Chinatown