beef filet surprise at Empress Pavilion
Went downtown last night for my first non-dim sum meal at EP. We planned on going to Alegria, but the line outside drove us to Chinatown -- where we figured we'd eat at Full House. Only to find a line outside there as well. (What's happening? Too many people logging onto chowhound??) So we went across the street instead. As it turned out, the huge Empress Pavilion was almost empty...
Anyway -- dinner was a total treat. Worth paying a couple dollars more than we would have at FH. The standout dish was a beef filet with black pepper and mushroom off their "gourmet" menu -- which I ordered somewhat reluctantly as it sounded pedestrian relative to other choices. But the beef was equisitely tender, like a much more expensive filet mignon. Likewise, the sauce had a surprisingly rich, French quality. Firm mushrooms. A hint of spice. So good that I couldn't wait to report it here... :) Other dishes included a light and delicious steamed telapia -- which we made the mistake of ordering in the smaller size...
I haven't eaten at any of the better San Gabriel/Mont Park places in a while, but it seemed to me that EP compared... On that score, I know others on this board have a more comprehensive view...
When I first got in town, the Empress was my fave. I started finding it inconsistant, though - frequently spot-on and really glorious, sometimes serviceable but off in the nuances.
Their dim sum was quite good, but not as fine as the best I'd had in San Fran.
Then, two trips to Ocean Star in Monterey Park: once for dim sum, once for dinner. The dim sum was the best I'd ever had, the dinner also spectacular. Now, I haven't been there as frequently as EP, so I can't speak to reliability, but the seafood dishes at Ocean Star surpassed Empress P in fineness and wonder. The non-seafood I'd had lagged behind.
yes, the beef filet surprised me too. Such texture!
The dungeness crab over hand made noodles is kind of famous, and I've recc'd to many friends with great success.
The duck fried with taro is the best I've ever had of the dish. Study in contrasting textures - the duck meat is tender and meaty, the skin crunchy and oozing with flavor, the taro starchy and melty on the inside, lightly crunchy on the outside.
The minced squab in lettuce cups is quite good - their hoisin sauce is very well made.
Many of their veggie dishes with crab sauce - mixed vegetables with mushrooms is particularly good, as is the fried bean curd with crab sauce, though some who don't have my particular devotion to the subtle joys of fresh tofu find it bland.
Best dish I had there was a mixed sea-food bean curd with mushrooms, which, while a pretty straight-forward and ordinary sounding dish, blew the living hell out of everybody there. Depth, depth, depth of flavor!
Any thoughts about these two, or other Cantonese seafood houses?
Thanks for the recommend. I've been to Empress for Dim Sum, but dinner sounds intriguing and great. Love Alegria too. Was sad you didn't enjoy Chameau as much as I did. I wrote a response to your entry on that, because I had a pretty good experience there. Although, we did order different things. Will definitely give the Empress at dinner a try, and look forward to trying the beef filet.
re: Vanessa On the Town
Sounds like we may run into each other one of these days...
Actually, I didn't mean to bash Chameau. My general feeling was definitely on the positive side of neutral. (Okay, that doesn't sound like fireworks but I did like it...)
See you in the hood, or "on the town," or whatever...