Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Emperor's gets another A: dim sum this time

Emperor's has a quiet but persistent way of making its excellence known. Its location and design are unassuming. It's in a small building on Wolf Road, and the decor is comfortable but not flashy. They don't have a huge dining room. But the food is quality and authentic, with fresh ingredients and an extensive menu. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's as good as Shun Lee in Manhattan-- it's not upscale or gourmet--but it does honor to traditional Chinese dishes and has enough variety to please everyone.

This weekend we had dim sum for three, and just about every dish we ordered was excellent: the sticky rice in lotus leaf was one of the best I've had; Chinese broccoli with garlic was good; and the sesame balls were awesome. We also had a variety of dumplings (shrimp, vegetable, etc). I had a hankering for mini-custards, but they were unfortunately out of them. The sesame balls were a deep-fried dough concoction with a bean paste inside that tasted chocolatey and smokey. I'm going to get cravings for those again soon! The spring rolls were filled with fresh vegetables. While we had to wait a while for our order (instead of the various dishes being paraded on carts as they are in big-city Chinatowns), everything was fresh and delicious, and the waiters were helpful and answered all our questions.

Let's be truthful: dim sum is all about heavy, greasy foods (unless you're really virtuous and order from the menu, which you can do here). Yet the food we had wasn't limp or soaked with fat as greasy food can sometimes be. It was crisp on the outside and light and heavenly on the inside. And what better way to start off a new week than with that repleteness that comes from the right combination of salty/savory/oily plus scads of hot tea?

It was slow at 1:30 pm on a Sunday, but the friend we were with said that he's been there at noon and it was more crowded.

Dim sum is such a wonderful ritual, and this afternoon felt like time off from the grind and the worries of life. I'll definitely be going to Emperor's more often.


Albany Jane said...

Man I absolutely love Emperor's! I've actually only been there for dim sum. Are any of their duck dishes any good?

SienaGuineaPig said...

Okay. Second response attempt.

I generally judge Dim Sum quality by three dishes that I get all the time: Spare Ribs w/ Black Sean Sauce, Shiu Mai, and Char Siu Bao (not available that Sunday). The ribs and the Shiu Mai were excellent.

I still rate Emperor's ahead of Plum Blossom, Tai-Pan, and Ocean Palace for Chinese dining in the Capital District.