HOME > Chowhound > Southwest >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Tell us about it
TELL US

Review: Emperor's Garden, Las Vegas

Honeychan Nov 18, 2007 03:33 PM

I'm always searching this town for -really good- Chinese food. I love spicy Szechuan best, but Vegas dosen't really have anything to fit my bill- untill NOW that is! Anytime i've craved hothot food, I headed over to Lotus Of Siam, and while wonderfully delish, it's not exactally the same.

My husband loves spicy food even more than I do, so when he gave his thumbs-up, I have to say I was relieved and happy. I'm going to get great Chinese alot more often now!

We started off with hot and sour soup. Very savory, with lots of veggies like wood-ear mushrooms, pickled bamboo shoots and even button mushrooms (a nice addition). The pork was generous thru the entire soup, and very tasty. On a spice-level i'd give it a 2. It mainly came from white pepper, but the undeniable citrus heat from Szechuan peppercorns could also be hinted at, but in a very gentle way.It needed no additional -anything-, like a splash of soy sauce like most soups need to me. This is now the best h&s soup i've had in Vegas. A real winner, we finished the entire bowl!

For our main dishes, I ordered spicy chicken with bell-peppers, my husband ordered the spicy beef. (this has gotten the award of "Best dish of the year", by Taste of Las Vegas...Not a personal indicator to me of greatness, but it didn't hurt!) My dish was savory and quite tasty, and reminded me of a really REALLY good Kung-Pao Chicken, sans peanuts. It was a little spicier that our soup, but not obnoxiously so. The bell-peppers were perfectly stir-fried. My husband's dish came to the table a large soup-bowl-sized hotpot of sorts. A firey lava-like gravy enveloped the large pieces of beef, and bokchoi. When I saw a liberally added amount of Szechuan peppercorns, I almost began to weep with joy! Now that I know what this spice is like, it's become a favorite to me. I love the cooling, yet hot heat it gives, allmost like a menthol-citrus flavor. This dish was perfect to me. It was a very garlicky, hot and spicy broth, a good layer of chili-oil floating on the surface. A real winner!
We also ordered pork-fried rice, which for .50 more, they make curry-fried. Now, this was good, but i've personally made better at home. I like a strong curry-flavor, and this was a subtle hint of it. This, to me was the weakest dish, yet still more than acceptable.

Emperor's Garden does a nice price on beer as well, Tsing-Tao in bottles for $1.99. Same with Asahi Dry and a few others that didn't catch my interest. The Tsing-Tao was really light and refreshing with all the hot food, and the price was certainly right.

They also do a Chinese breakfast, with congee and other goodies, but no dim-sum. We got there at 9pm last night, and they closed at 10pm. Service was prompt amd efficent, the tea served was jasmine (a big plus for me, a personal favorite) and the decor is attractive.

I'd love to hear from others who have eaten here what you've tried, and your thoughts on it. There's about 20 other items I want to try there now!

Emperor's Garden
4215 Spring Mountain Rd #B203 (2nd level of the main Chinatown Mall)
Las Vegas, Nevada 89102
web page: emperorgarden.com
PS: The website is quite good, and their pictures are very nice as well! Worth a visit!

  1. b
    brisket Dec 12, 2007 01:43 PM

    Any other recommendations for what to order at Emperor's Garden? I went over the weekend and wasn't particularly impressed -- especially with the Spicy Sichuan Beef. The beef itself was very fatty and almost slightly gelatinous. The overall flavor was ok, but not that great. We also had sichuan cold noodles, broccoli with garlic sauce and sichuan chili cucumber. They were all okay, but everything was so dominated by either chili or cooking oil that it would coat your mouth so that it was all you could really taste.

    Between praise on here and recs from some other people, I feel like something's wrong. I don't know if it was just an off night (Sunday night, there were perhaps 5 tables other than ours), or we ordered the wrong stuff, or what.

    4 Replies
    1. re: brisket
      q
      QAW Dec 12, 2007 02:02 PM

      Although Emperor's Garden developed a following for the Sichuan Beef through some local newspaper attention, I have also been underwhelmed by it. In fact, I have found a version my taste buds like better just a few feet away - downstairs at Chinatown Express. It is an easy place to walk right by because it might be as unassuming as any place in the Las Vegas valley, but their Sichuan Beef has a nice depth of flavor and heat, with leeks and cabbage adding a different element. Nothing fancy about the place in any way, and a pretty straightforward menu, but their particular version of the dish has led to return trips.

      1. re: brisket
        Honeychan Dec 12, 2007 08:04 PM

        That's really odd, the beef in our dishes was tender-soft..Not overly-fattty, either. When I order spicy food, nine times out of ten, i'm expecting a "chili" type of flavor, or pepper- be it black or white pepper, or Schiuan peppercorns I still love the liberal use of Schiuan peppercorns in their food, and will hopefully make my way there this weekend for meal #2.

        Who knows, maybe I got the stellar meal of the month, there?

        1. re: Honeychan
          f
          foodiefromfl Dec 13, 2007 08:02 PM

          We've been there twice. Each time we've order the Sichuan Chicken extra spicy and it was delicious. The spicy chicken had hidden jewels of leek and I think baby bok choy underneath, very fragrant. They didn't hold back on the spice, which we were grateful for. I have to admit that it is a little on the oily side ( possibly from the chili oil?), but I just skim that off. We also get sauteed spinach, hot and sour soup and we had the combination fried rice with curry and everything was very good. I think it is nicely done Chinese. It has become one of our regular places to eat in Chinatown.

          1. re: foodiefromfl
            w
            westie May 20, 2008 03:33 AM

            We had an opportunity to try Emperor's Garden for the first time on our recent vacation. We each started off with a cup of corn and chicken soup that turned out to be egg drop soup with a few kernels of corn tossed in for good measure. We shared entrees of shrimp lo mein and spicy chicken with peppers. Neither dish scaled any culinary heights, but at least I was able to use a 20% off coupon printed off the LVRJ website to ease my disappointment. Overall we were not impressed with our experience and will unlikely return.

      2. d
        Dave Feldman Nov 18, 2007 06:21 PM

        Thanks so much for the review -- I'll try to hit Emperor's on my next trip.

        Have you been to Dong Ting Spring for Hunan? Some of the dishes have serious heat, but without the Sichuan peppercorns.

        27 Replies
        1. re: Dave Feldman
          f
          foodiefromfl Dec 1, 2007 07:38 PM

          Hey Dave,
          Did you try Emperor's Garden? If so, in your opinion, compared to Dong Ting which place has spicier food? The spicier, the better.
          Thanks in advance.

          1. re: foodiefromfl
            d
            Dave Feldman Dec 1, 2007 08:08 PM

            Sorry, I've never been to Emperor's Garden.

            The food wasn't that hot at Dong Ting, but I was with three fellow "gringos" and because only one of them likes spicy food, I didn't try to order the food hot.

          2. re: Dave Feldman
            Honeychan Dec 2, 2007 02:17 AM

            No, I have yet to make it to Dong Ting, but have a few co-workers rave about it to me. Is this the place that's on a side-street from Spring Mountain Rd?? I have a feeling it is. Thanks for the tip, i'll be sure to give them a try the next time!

            1. re: Honeychan
              d
              Dave Feldman Dec 2, 2007 08:22 AM

              Yes, it's in "back" (i.e., south) of Spring Mountain in one of the new additions. Given the rather obscure location, it seems to be doing well. This was once a popular Malaysian restaurant (which is why I stumbled onto it -- I was trying to find a replacement for Panang) and I must have gone there soon after it turned into Dong Ting -- some of the signage still hadn't changed.

              1. re: Dave Feldman
                q
                QAW Dec 2, 2007 08:27 AM

                It looks like we have a nice little Hunan corridor developing, if the out of the way location does not hurt. Right next door to Dong Ting is Yun Nan, which has an extensive menu and the most heat that I have experienced in Las Vegas through two decades of searching - some real "melt your teeth" dishes, for those that like such experiences. Let's hope that they can both make it.

                1. re: QAW
                  d
                  Dave Feldman Dec 2, 2007 08:52 AM

                  How is the quality of Yun Nan compared to Dong Ting?

                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                    q
                    QAW Dec 2, 2007 09:03 AM

                    So far I have only tried Yun Nan - because the menu offers so many unusual options I have been slowly working my way through it. The usual "eat lunch out/take dinner home" kind of explorations with a new place. I think I will be ready for Dong Ting soon, which can make some comparisons possible. The location on Schiff does not help either place in terms of attracting any casual walk-ins, alas, which does impact their chances to be successful. I am told that Yun Nan has a sister property in southern California, so perhaps that gives a little staying power. We can only hope.

                    1. re: QAW
                      d
                      Dave Feldman Dec 2, 2007 10:35 PM

                      Dong Ting and Champion Foods also have outlets in SoCal.

                      1. re: Dave Feldman
                        c
                        Chandavkl Dec 18, 2007 10:05 PM

                        Dong Ting and Champion have revived the pattern of the original lineup in Chinatown when that center opened up in 1996 with almost entirely L.A. area based operations (e.g., Sam Woo, D.D's Cafe, Kim Tar, 168, Plum Tree).. Interesting that in the intermediate period not many other L.A. area Chinese restaurants opened up in Las Vegas, though.

                        1. re: Chandavkl
                          d
                          Dave Feldman Dec 20, 2007 12:05 AM

                          Yes, I've noticed the same thing -- the L.A. connections aren't as frequent. I used to eat at Kim Tar regularly -- there were several good restaurants in that complex in the mid-late 90s, some of which were L.A.-based. The turnover has been astonishing but I do think that there have been many promising developments, especially the widening of nationalities and choices within Chinese cuisine.

                          1. re: Dave Feldman
                            q
                            QAW Jan 4, 2008 03:56 PM

                            Have finally had a chance to try Ding Tong Spring, now that the Holidays are over, and the first visit will not be the last. "Pig Skin with Leek & Hot Pepper" was sublime, and showed a deft touch in the kitchen. Four different types of chile's in the dish, but it was cooked in a manner in which all of the flavors came through, instead of being overpoweringly hot. The fat from the pork and earthiness from the leeks combined with the peppers for a harmony that really worked. Nothing like simple country cooking, when done well. And they brought out a plate of freshly roasted peanuts on the house, another nice touch. This is the type of menu that will make it fun to go from A to Z.

                            1. re: QAW
                              q
                              QAW Jan 29, 2008 02:44 PM

                              An interesting afternoon at Dong Ting Spring, sitting at the next table to a young married couple (husband U.S./wife from the Hunan region). They spend a lot of time in China, and are leaving tomorrow to spend a month there with her family. There was a long discussion of the authenticity of the food at Dong Ting, and the dishes were outstanding again - particularly "Stir Fried Lamb with Wild Pepper" and "Chicken Gizzard with Sour Hot Pepper" (they generously allowed me to sample everything from their table). Unfortunately they did tell me that business is a bit slow (they eat there at least twice a week when they are in Las Vegas); with being hidden on Schiff having them out of view of visitors to the Chinatown corridor along Spring Mountain. It is a shame - the food quality and the service really deserve a following.

                              1. re: QAW
                                d
                                Dave Feldman Jan 29, 2008 08:30 PM

                                I'm just curious what "Wild Pepper" means.

                                1. re: QAW
                                  Honeychan Jan 29, 2008 09:50 PM

                                  That's it, i'm going to finally eat at Dong Ting Spring this weekend! I've got a better idea of where they're located- plus the picture I saw of their Ma-Po tofu looks drool-worthy. I have to eat there, i'm really really looking forwards to it!

                                  1. re: Honeychan
                                    q
                                    QAW Jan 30, 2008 05:45 AM

                                    There were the usual assortment of chile's in the lamb dish, but also a lot of greens that I could not identify - I am wondering if they were greens from a type of pepper plant? They added a nice element that helped to balance out the flavors.

                                    1. re: QAW
                                      q
                                      QAW Mar 4, 2008 11:21 AM

                                      It seemed almost inevitable because of the location, but at lunch time today (March 4th) Dong Ting Spring was padlocked, without any notices written in English on the door. The hope is that it is only temporary, but they really were fighting an uphill battle.

                                      1. re: QAW
                                        ciaogal Mar 4, 2008 06:12 PM

                                        The news is very sad...I have to say my one visit to Dong Ting Spring was memorable. The uniqueness of the flavors, the presentation of the offerings and the love put in to each dish was outstanding. I wish and hope the best....that they will reopen soon! I was looking forward to a return visit!

                                        1. re: QAW
                                          d
                                          Dave Feldman Mar 4, 2008 09:01 PM

                                          This saddens me,and not just because the people running DTS were hardworking and friendly. I think Chinatown will be much the worse if good Hunan and other non-Cantonese/Hong Kong style restaurants aren't well represented.

                                          1. re: QAW
                                            janetofreno Mar 4, 2008 09:43 PM

                                            damn. I was just thinking it was time to eat there again. damn.

                                            1. re: QAW
                                              Honeychan Mar 4, 2008 09:47 PM

                                              Not cool..I tried to find DTS about a month ago, driving around the backside of the mall it was "supposed" to be in. I was confused I coulden't find it right away, and drove off after searching for 10 minutes. I'm pretty good with directions, too. Very frustrating, as i've been wanting to try them so very bad. I also read that Togoshi's got closed down..Wonder if they both didn't pass health inspections?

                                              1. re: Honeychan
                                                q
                                                QAW Mar 5, 2008 05:55 AM

                                                Togoshi did have a blue sign on the door from the health department, but nothing like that at Dong Ting, just a chain and a lock on the door. It is possible that it could just be something minor (it is a family-run place, so personal issues could lead to a short-term closing); but since they were having difficulty attracting an audience to that location we might be able to read the writing that wasn't on the wall.

                                                1. re: Honeychan
                                                  d
                                                  Dave Feldman Mar 5, 2008 07:33 PM

                                                  The problem is that although Schiff does have a sign, it isn't the standard Las Vegas street sign, and easy to miss. Next time, just go south on Valley View from Spring Mountain and look for your first opportunity to turn right. Then travel past about 15 stores and turn right. You'll see the DTS site (still with a bigger sign above the restaurant that reads "Banana Leaf." There is another Hunan restaurant next door.

                                                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                    Honeychan Mar 5, 2008 07:52 PM

                                                    Ahhh, I see! I entered Schiff from Wynn, making a left on Spring Mountain Rd. I was thinking DTS was near the Kung Fu resto, near the frontside of Valley View. I'll pay more attention next time i'm in Chinatown, and see if I can find it. I really hope DTS isn't really closed for good.

                                                    1. re: Honeychan
                                                      d
                                                      Dave Feldman Mar 5, 2008 08:05 PM

                                                      Google Maps works really well for the nooks and crannies of Chinatown, in my experience.

                                                      1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                        q
                                                        QAW Mar 24, 2008 12:36 PM

                                                        A great way to start a week - Dong Ting Spring up and doing fine (nice lunch crowd on Monday). Because of the language barrier there was no way to find out what their short-term issue had been, but the food quality was once again outstanding.

                                                        1. re: QAW
                                                          d
                                                          Dave Feldman Mar 24, 2008 11:50 PM

                                                          That's great to hear. Thanks for the good news.

                                                          1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                            janetofreno Mar 25, 2008 12:06 AM

                                                            yes, very good. I think I"ll take my son to lunch there tomorrow....

                    Show Hidden Posts