Emily and I had decided that we were going to get Chinese food one night. That, of course, meant that we had to go to Chinatown. By the time we got there, we were so hungry that we just lurched into the first restaurant we saw and that’s how we discovered Empire Garden.
When you first walk into Empire Garden, it’s like stepping into a dingy movie theater lobby. And then you go upstairs. Now, I haven’t done much (any) research, but I heard it used to be a theater before it was converted into a restaurant and I can believe that. There are murals and mirrors and massive high ceilings and it’s gaudy and wonderful all at once. It’s one of the most fantastic looking places I’ve been in.
I’ve only gone to dim sum a few times, but Empire Garden’s food is above average compared to the other places I’ve been. We’ve been there five or six times now and the food has always been good. I’m not crazy about their chicken buns, but the yellow bean and pork buns were awesome. The duck was also pretty good.
They also have a bewildering array of mixed drinks with things like the ubiquitous scorpion bowl and a whole host of other tropical drinks in tiki head cups. There are also a couple of Chinese beers (like Tsingtao)
And here comes the best part; generally speaking, we’ll spend about $35 on a meal there. That’s including the tip and enough food and drink to make sure that we have trouble walking home.
It’s cheap, it’s good and the atmosphere is old style insanely over the top. It’s only a block away from the Chinatown station on the Orange line (located at 690 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111), so go check it out.