Friday, April 21, 2006

Emperor's Fine Hong Kong Dining

Emperor's is located at 10 Wolf Road, next to Bangkok Thai (the Sears/Barnes and Noble/Target end of Wolf Road). Emperor's and Ocean Palace are the two consistently best Chinese restaurants in this area, and I would recommend Emperor's to anyone.

First of all, their menu is impressive, although a little less 'exotic' than Ocean Palace's (at Emperor's you can get Duck Feet, Conch five different ways, and a variety of Squid dishes, but it lacks the poetic touch. (See my review of Ocean Palace: reverence is the only appropriate emotion for "Virginia Ham and Fish Maw Soup").

My friend ordered the Shun Fan Golden Chicken, which truly looked like a feast meant for a king. It looked a lot like the soy sauce chicken I used to delight in at New York Noodle Town (in Manhattan's Chinatown), only it was a huge portion served in a regal mound and covered with crispy golden garlic.

I almost gave up vegetarianism right there on the spot.

But I had my dish, Shrimp with Peanuts and Hot Pepper, which was quite good and came with diced celery and carrot. I also ordered the Chinese broccoli (my favorite), and it was excellent. The other time I was at Emperor's I ordered trout, and it was so fresh they actually brought it out before cooking it. It was still alive. I was horrified and felt really really guilty and awful. That trip to Emperor's I considered giving up fish, just because that poor trout looked so unhappy. But I must say it was as fresh as you can get.

So go to Emperor's. You'll never run out of great things to order, and the service is excellent.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Antipasto's: cozy and fresh

The other night, I *finally* made it to Antipasto's, after a few years of saying "I should try Antipasto's some time!" It's in Clifton Park: you get off 87 for Rte. 9 west, and keep going past the Clifton Park mallapalooza (pass the Borders and TGIFridays) continuing for about a mile. Antipasto's is in a small outdoor strip on the left near a Price Chopper; it's easy to miss because it's tucked into a corner.

But if you are in the area, you owe it to yourself to try it out. It is a vegetarian friendly (and also vegan-friendly) Italian/Meditteranean restaurant, but you'll like it even if you're not a vegetarian. Antipasto's has a real neighborhood feel; it actually has the vibe of a restaurant in Italy where the locals like to congregate, which many restaurants claim to have but most don't actually manage. It also has an impressive wine bar. There are signed wine posters on the walls, attesting to the owner's love of quality vino.

Before I get started describing all the gustatory pleasures at hand here, I should warn you: Antipasto's does not take credit cards. So go there with some cash.

We shared a sauteed spinach and white bean appetizer, which really turned out to be a most enjoyable huge platter (and, note: we got the small) of vegetarian antipasto: pepperoncini, really nice olives of different sorts, and the spinach and bean mixture. The waitress, who was pleasant and helpful, also brought out some warm bread (from Bella Napoli-- a real plus) and balsamic dipping sauce. For my main dish I had "The Thomas Jefferson": eggplant parm with vegetables on the side. And oh, what fresh and delightful vegetables, all convivially making way into the tomato sauce at the center! There were carrots, broccoli, and more olives, and I felt not only sated but healthy. The eggplant was wonderful, and my glass of Chianti better than the usual. My husband got the Mixed Vegetable Ravioli, which were homemade and served in a simple olive oil and garlic sauce.

Other items on the menu include many types of pizzas, which you can order in individual or larger sizes; a soup of the day; plentiful salads, like a Spinach salad with Artichokes and feta or the Josey Wales with Gorgonzola and grapeseed vinaigrette. Salads can be had in small or large sizes (what a great idea!), and you can also get a gourmet cheese course or bruschetta for appetizers or to go with wine. Other dishes include Portobello Parmesan, Cheese Melt Florentine, and pasta of many types (Cheese Ravioli, Pasta Primavera, Porta Putanesca [sic]-- mushrooms with Puttanesca). They also had a 'vegetarian seafood' dish and vegetarian cutlets as one of the main dishes.

We passed on dessert (see my entry on Angel's to come soon!) but felt sure that we'd be back to try it out some time. I left only wishing that Antipasto's would open more venues around the Capital Region; Clifton Park is too far away from everything else. This is a neighborhood restaurant-- and I want it in my neighborhood!