Restaurant: Empress Pavilion
Location: 988 N Hill St #201, Los Angeles, CA 90012. (213) 617-9898
Date: November 5, 2014
Cuisine: Cantonese Dimsum
Rating: Like 20 years ago
For decades, Empress Pavilion has been a Grande Dame of LAs Chinatown scene, offering up Cantonese and Cantonese American fare (and dimsum).
With the eastward movement of the Chinese population into the SGV (San Gabriel Valley), the whole Chinatown has fallen on hard times. Empress even closed. But now it’s back.
Despite a reboot, the decor, while bright clean and new, looks like… well… 1982. Notice the carts. EP still uses the old cart system for dimsum.
Har Gow. Felt warmed over and pasty.
Shrimp Rice Noodle. Okay, but certainly lackluster.
Shumai. Tasted a bit like packaged frozen shumai.
Shrimp and scallop. Not too bad.
Shrimp and onion. Also half decent.
Shrimp and vegetable. One of the best of the dumplings.
Chicken potstickers. Bland and greasy.
Crispy chow mein with shrimp. Not bad, and one of the better dishes, but no where near as good as Elite.
BBQ Pork. Decent, but slightly odd sweet and sour flavor.
Taro. Crispy and filled with that bland taro paste.
One of the better dishes, but not fabulous.
Custard buns. Probably the best dish. Nice flakey texture and filled with eggy sweet stuff. Quite solid.
Passionfruit slush with almond jelly. I went next door and got some sugar.
Overall, Empress Pavilion, well sucked. It was nowhere NEAR as good as even the second tier SGV dimsum houses, and probably slightly worse than the Brentwood place I sometimes go to. This shows up the weakness of the “cart system.” Food tasted warmed over and stale compared to the steamed to order system used at all the good SGV places. It’s worth the extra 5-10 minutes drive!
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