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First Emperor--Richardson,TX

Anyone been to First Emperor on Polk Street in Richardson? The frontdesk clerk at my hotel recommended it. It is a classic hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant. No real ambiance or decor. I truly felt like I was in many of the places I've been to in Taiwan. I was the only "non-asian" in the place. My dish was very very good. Something called East Chicken. A mix of chicken, ginger, and I think a little onion, and lemon grass and some spicy pepper. It was quite tasty and very inexpensive.

My guess is the local Chinese community is well aware of the place. It looks like it's located in a mini-Chinatown based on the signs on the other establishments in the area.

Did a quick Google search and didn't find much. It's located near Texas Instruments corporate offices so I'm guessing it does a big lunch business.

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  1. sounds interesting, thanks for the heads up. notice any regional leanings? Eastern I suppose, but not Taiwanese?

    3 Replies
    1. re: luniz

      This is the one across from Kirin Court, right?

        1. re: Chile Pepper

          As I clarified further down the page, the owner and cook are Taiwanese.

    2. Everything the OP said about this restaurant is true. Inexpensive with no decor, it's a true dive where the food does all the talking.

      If you're in a rush, I wouldn't suggest going here during lunch unless you get here early, they're always packed and it's for good reason. Had I not gone here with my Taiwanese friend, I would've been clueless. The most popular dish seems to be their take on kung pao chicken. They've added some nuts into it and it is spiced/seasoned differently. He also suggested a battered rib dish, and I quickly fell in love with it. I'll make sure to remember what the exact name is from the menu next time I go. Another important tidbit, they aren't cash only! They accept Visa/Mastercard.

      Also appreciate all your tips on Raleigh, fwbeach. I'll be going there for a week starting monday.

      1. A much, much better option would be First Chinese BBQ about 4-5 blocks East just across Greenville Ave. It's the "real thing"!

        6 Replies
        1. re: twinwillow

          Considering both restaurants are heavily supported by the local Chinese community, wouldn't that indicate they are both the "real thing"? Sure, you're not gonna find the BBQ pork or duck at First Emperor, but you'll also see items that First Chinese doesn't have. Some dishes are prepared with different ingredients or methods, and it's interesting to see the variation.

          Also FWIW, the rib dish I mentioned is fried spare ribs, the first one under the pork heading.

          1. re: air

            I've known the owner their at First Emperor for years (corner of Polk and Sherman). I believe Chin is from a town near Shanghai.

            My favorite dishes there are the lamb and leek, the mustard greens, spinach and tofu soup, and bar none the fried fish with chilies.

            1st Chinese BBQ is at the corner of Polk St and Greenville Avenue. It is also very good, and used to be our staple before First Emperor opened. It is still the gold standard for BBQ Duck and buckwheat noodle soup.

            I believe that both restaurants do a fantastic job with fresh ingredients and extremely consistent high-quality food. The major difference is regional, style and size. 1st Chinese BBQ can seat about twice the people and has 2 or three locations around town. First Emperor is run and staffed by a brother and sister.

            So, tomorrow I will be going to First Emperor to see Chin and get some of that soup for lunch!

            1. re: thedave

              A quick update, I ate there today, and as promised I got the tofu soup and fried fish. It was fantastic as usual.

              But, I had Chin's hometown way off. She's from Taiwan.

              So, that would explain some of the regional differences.

              Also, a poster later on complains of her Kung Pao. I would imagine that her Americanized Chinese dishes (Kung Pao, General Tsao's, etc.) would not be so good.

              I recommend sticking to the more simple, traditional Chinese fair at the ethnic restaurants, and save the Chinese-American meals for the places that cater to Americans.

              1. re: thedave

                I tried the lamb and leek tonight. It was ok but not great or anything. The lamb could have been sliced a little better and wasn't particularly great. Some other little nitpicky things. I'd eat there again if I lived close by but imo Umeko is probably better. However east a block on Main there's a good bakery and a place that does a good bun bo hue...almost as good as La Me's, but bigger.

                1. re: luniz

                  Are you talking about the Vietnamese noodle place facing Greenville? (a block east from First Emperor is Greenville).

                  Try some beef dishes (esp. beef pate and grilled beef) at Huong Ly in Chinatown (next to the tapioca/tea place). Very good, better and cheaper than Saigon Block. Saigon Block has great fried frog legs, though.

                  1. re: kuidaore

                    I think the name of the place I was talking about is Song Huong, though the first thing on the sign in bun bo hue. I tried bun bo hue at Huong Ly, it wasn't as good. No konnyakku, pig's blood, or ham hock. Not real spicy either...kinda boring. The Song Huong (if that's the name) is right across from First Chinese & Garden Cafe iirc. I don't think I've ever been to Saigon Block

          2. I have a coworker her from China, and we are always trying to get him to go out for lunch, but he never likes the Chinese restaurants we go to. So, I asked him to pick his favorite for my brithday, and it was First Emperor. Really tasty!! They cook to order. So, not everyone is served at the same time and some dishes take a bit longer, but worth it. Everyone cleaned their plates.

            1. Not sure about First Emperor but, First Chines BBQ is, CASH ONLY. You may want to keep that in mind.

              1 Reply
              1. re: twinwillow

                First Emperor takes Visa/Mastercard.

              2. I tried 1st Emperor yesterday for lunch based on this thread as it is near my office. I eat at First BBQ and the surrounding Asian places in the neighborhood daily. I had Kung Pow 3 (shrimp,beef,chicken). I wasn't real impressed. The SS soup was flavorless and the KP was swimming in oil and very gloppy. Having said that, I don't eat Kung Pao much so I don't have a great frame of reference. I always give places a couplel of shots, so I'm willing to go back. Anyone have any suggestions fromt the lunch menu?

                On another note, I have tried Little Schezuan several times in the last few weeks based on Lewisvillehound's recs and I have to say, me likey, alot. Very fresh and well prepared. I also really like the ladies who work there. They are really friendly and helpful (which you don't get alot in authentic Chinese places..see 1st BBQ. I wish I lived closer as I'd like to try many of the things on the dinner menu that need to be shared. thanks to Lewisville for heads up.

                1. We tried First Emperor and didn't like the food at all. (The only thing we liked was the hot&sour soup that came with the meal!)

                  Our favorite Taiwanese restaurant is Umeko in Plano.
                  They have many of the same dishes (a variety of shredded pork dishes, twice cooked pork, salt&pepper rib, etc.) and execute them much better. All the dishes we had at First Emperor's were covered with sauce (like FCB) and all you can taste is the sauce. Umeko's aren't and have much more flavor. Their dishes are really flavorful. We love all their shredded pork dishes. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4235...

                  It was a mistake to venture into an unknown Chinese restaurant without our Chinese food master. Never again...