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Eastern Empire Lincroft

Took another chowhounder – Cantkick’s recommendation and tried Eastern Empire(Manow’s previous location). The seating area is the same as before, the waitress was quick to greet me took me to my seat. The lunch menu was quite typical, the usual Chinese food that you can get, comes with soup or soda or egg roll, for the price of $5.5. There are also a few Thai specials and they were $6. Tea and ice water were put on the table as soon as I sat down. I had the not so exciting chicken with broccoli and hot and sour soup, simple dish and soup but they can tell the quality of the place. The hot and sour soup was decent; chicken with broccoli was flavorful. The source was tasty, not as thick(corn starchy) as some other places. I ordered white rice instead of the pork fried rice but when my waitress brought the dish to me, it was with pork fried rice, she apologized for the chef and told me that she would get me the white rice on the side. I declined the offer since I would not be able to eat all that, besides, the pork fried rice looked pretty good to me(non greasy). I am actually glad that the chef made the mistake, the pork fried rice was good, very hot and the pieces of pork(BBQ pork) were very juicy. Other than the fortune cookies, oranges were also offered, which was a nice touch.

I am happy with my lunch, service and food were both good. If I really have to pick on something, it would be the little kid running around the dining area. I believe he is the owner’s child and both parents are working so he is running around in the restaurant. There were four other tables while I was there, other customers seem to enjoy their dishes too. I will have to come back and try their dinner menu some other time.

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  1. Helen, one of those four tables was my party! Glad you enjoyed it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cantkick

      Should have said "hi" and "thanks" to you, only if I knew what you look like....anyway, good choice and I enjoyed the food!

    2. We've been getting delivery from EE fairly regularly. The order process is efficient and quick. They arrive promptly, and the order is always correct. (These three things mean a lot to us.)

      I've already raved about the pad thai. I noticed that even the white rice is of a higher quality than other places. I ordered beef and broccoli (boring, I know); it had an essence of 5 Spice Powder that was barely noticeable. The dish was excellent. The veggies were crisp and stayed so for the next 3 days as leftovers. My husband loves the steamed dishes with sauce on the side.

      1. My husband and I got take out about 2 weeks ago. It was very good! We both had the Singapore Rice Noodles---I got mine without vegetables and extra spicy, he got his the regular way. Both were cooked exactly as we had asked! We also got egg rolls and the fried pork dumplings. Delicious! Portions are very good, and although they are a smidge more pricy then my more local place the taste and amount were much better.

        This will be our regular Chinese place!

        1. I'll have to check this out, just a few minutes away.

          1. Did takeout last night. We all got something new this time. Again everything was excellent. I was particularly impressed that in my dish the shellfish was NOT overcooked, as "rubberized" is the norm in too many places. At this point, my favorite is anything with their Empire sauce. And their H&S soup. The only thing I haven't liked is their Crab Rangoon.

            BTW, I asked the manager (owner?) if they had any plans to expand their Thai offerings. He said they decided to just keep it to the more popular dishes as it was too difficult to cook too many things. Probably a wise decision. Better a few excellent things than a lot of so-so.

            13 Replies
            1. re: cantkick

              Will have to check it out as it is only about 10 minutes away. I also judge Chinese places in part on the H&S soup. Cant stand it when an establishment serves H&S "pudding" that you can stand a spoon up in...

              On another note I've noticed that Thai Chiles in Eatontown does not seem to be attracting a crowd. Usually only a couple cars in the lot. Would be a shame to finally have 2 decent Thai places within 10 minutes only to lose them...

              1. re: equal_Mark

                I agree about Thai Chiles. I rarely see more than a couple cars if I drive by at lunchtime. But I'm at fault, too, I've only gone a couple times, but enjoyed it.

                BTW, there was an ad in the paper, with coupons, that they're having a Grand Opening. They've been open for a year or so, so it's a little late. :) Probably to draw in the crowds.

                1. re: equal_Mark

                  Equal Mark. I've viewed EE's (Lincroft) menu and it is but a bit more expansive than their Oakhurst eatery which is Chinese dominated. It's where we go for our Chinese and on occasion I've tried some of their Thai dishes which are just so so.

                  Unless a restaurant has 100% Thai dishes on the menu I don't know that you can begin to state that we here have two outstanding Thai places within a moderated drive and that may crash and burn. I love EE (Oakhurst), and whatever they're doing in Lincroft is purely a 'side project'. I haven't been to Thai Chili as I carry but one piece of plastic (AE) and when I did stop in there one evening on a 'whim' for a quick bite, I decided to walk away, as I was short on cash and again, just passing thru on 35 South. So I can't really state one way or the other as to DECENT Thai.

                  I just have to be honest here. We don't have good thai within a half hour of say Red Bank. And if there is, I'd appreciate the recommendation.

                  Tomorrow, I'll be heading out to Origin in Somerville which is French Thai with my dept as they are taking me (my choice) there. And while it's fusion, it's marvelous. For indigenous peasant Thai, there's but one choice (for me) and it is Four Seasons in South Plainfield. Marvelous Thai food. Thai owners, thai cooks, thai servers, thai menu, great food.

                  But somebody please help me out. There has to be a place below the Driscoll that serves 'true' Thai food.

                    1. re: JustJake

                      JustJake,

                      Re: Thai south of the Driscoll

                      Thai Chili and Thai Thai, both in Old Bridge, are totally Thai (owners, cooks, servers, and menus). We've had very good food at both, but we haven't haven't been to either in quite some time, so I can't say anything about the food's current quality.

                      http://www.thaichiliusa.com
                      http://www.menuthaithaicuisine

                      There have also been very good reports about Siam Smiles, in Matawan, but we haven't tried it yet.

                      http://siamsmiles.homestead.com/

                      Note: I've never been to Thailand, so I can't say if the food at any of these restaurants is "authentic."

                      1. re: RGR

                        thanks. And I haven't visited Thailand either RGR : ), though I always remembered enjoying the Thailand exhibit at the NY Worlds Fair in 64 more than anything, saying to myself as a 12 yo, that one day I would visit. Well I haven't, and there is no guarantee that just because they're ll natives that we'll be served a fine meal. But I do know when I run into great food and those restaurants are 'keepers'.

                        I'll keep the Old Bridge eateries in my back pocket as we're targeted to meet up with some dear friends who live in OB and perhaps they'll be amenable to a Thai dinner the evening we go out.

                        The food writer for the SL was so right in her column of last week. You want diversity in food/restaurants? One has to cross the Driscoll and get into the ethnic neighborhoods where these cuisines flourish.

                        Had a tooth pulled yesterday so NO Origin till next Friday. Tonite, though is SeaGrass and I look forward to dining there on this dreary evening.

                        1. re: JustJake

                          My friend goes to Thailand frequently for business. He raves about the authenticity of the food at Thai Chili in Eatontown. I hope to get there soon.

                        2. re: RGR

                          Since Thai is one of my favorites, I'll chime in here.

                          Has anyone else been to Thai Chili in Spotswwod recently? I posted a big downhill alert about them here:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/685120

                          Thai Thai has always been decent, but very limited (you can't even get a papaya salad or laab, etc.).

                          I liked Manow when they were around, and have mixed feelings about Siam Smiles.

                          But, for a huge selection of both Americanized and fairly authentic Thai, I have to agree with an above mention of Four Seasons in Piscataway, and their sister restaurant, Pad Thai in Highland Park. Over the years these are the only local places that I can even put in the same category as the best of Queens and Las Vegas. In fact, something as simple as Kao Pad Koon Chieng, or sausage fried rice at Pad Thai may be as good a dish as any I've had, even in the best restaurants in the world. When I retire and move away from NJ, this is where I want my final meal here to be.

                          That said, I plan on trying EE soon, most likely when the weather warms a few more degrees so we can mosey over to Ralph's next door afterwards for dessert.

                          1. re: seal

                            Seal, I have opted for Four Seasons over the Pad Thai food for the last 5 years or so.

                            Seal, What would you say are Pad Thai's highlight dishes as I'd like to try that spot again; perhaps a late spring foray Friday lunch and coupling that with some shopping at the Farmer's Market (when it opens).

                            Four Seasons has just been so consistently great that I have a hard time going to the HP location. The food menu is decidedly different correct?

                            1. re: JustJake

                              I think the base menus are almost the same. Of course there are tons of specials too, so there may be more than a few things that are not at both locations.

                              When I take friends to Pad Thai for their first time I always get the Sausage Fried Rice, Garlic Beef (if you never had it at Four Seasons - it may have the most garlic of any dish outside Gilroy), and the always-on-the-menu special of Jumbo Shrimp and Avocado in Penang Curry. But you, as an experienced Thai eater, should just go nuts and eat whatever you like. I order my fried rice medium with no onion as I think they use too much onion and cut it too big as well.

                              Full agreement on the market across the street too - absolutely love it!

                          2. re: deepspace

                            Hmmm, one hit wonder.

                            Problem with Siam Garden is the cost. $20 a serving for Thai food is a bit much for this area. Maybe in NYC, but I've been to Vong, and Siam Garden ain't Vong.

                            For the price of a meal there you'd do just as well to park next to the Galleria and take the train up to Woodbridge and have a meal at Mie Thai.

                            -----
                            Mie Thai
                            34 Main St, Woodbridge, NJ 07095

                            Siam Garden
                            2 Bridge Ave Ste 612, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                          3. re: JustJake

                            The menu I posted was obtained at the Lincroft location.

                            When I stated there were 2 decent Thai places within 10 minutes I was referring to Manow and Thai chilies, one of which is already gone.

                            Interesting that you state "We don't have good thai within a half hour of say Red Bank." directly after explaining that you had not eaten at Thai Chilies.

                            1. re: equal_Mark

                              Sorry Mark. My oversight on the post as Manow's was a pretty decent Thai eatery.

                              EE is Chinese with a little Thai mixed in. And we probably drop close to a grand there annually based on our take out (weekly) regimen and ordering from this fine Chinese restaurant.