So, many Portlander’s may not know, but Empire has went back to its original roots: a Chinese restaurant. It was the first Chinese restaurant to ever open in Portland back in 1916. However, it’s been known as the Empire Dine and Dance for a while now, serving as a venue for music and performances. And now, as of Thursday 9/12, Empire is once again open to the public for Chinese, specializing in dim sum and some unique dishes. I tried it for lunch the day after opening, and I’m definitely returning. Dim sum has always been a favorite of mine. Maybe because of the family style serving, or because there are so many dumplings to choose from, but I was disappointed to learn that there was no dim sum in Portland! Until now.
So what did I get? Take a look at the spread my co-workers at Mainely SEO ordered!
For three girls, that’s definitely a decent amount of food. Pictured are: dumplings, dumplings and more dumplings! Oh, and some Duck buns too.
For myself, I ordered:
Bao is a must have on my dim sum list. The moment I was handed the menu, I scanned it hoping I would find Pork Bao listed. Check and check! The taste was great, and consistent with other Bao I’ve had in the past. Paired with the sauce provided, the flavors melded together quite nicely in my mouth: pork, bun, and just a hint of sweetness.
Well, the lobster dumplings were part of what I was most curious about, so as any other foodie would do, I ordered them. The verdict? I did enjoy them, especially since lobster is one of my favorite kinds of seafood (and Maine has plenty of it!). Yet, I’m not entirely convinced that they belong in dumplings. An extremely unique dish, but I think I prefer my lobster smothered in butter, personally. Try it if you want to experience something very different though because it is delicious!
My final dish was the Pork Dumplings, which are a dim sum classic! I’m quite partial to pork, and it never tastes better than when it’s encased in a dumpling! These were my personal favorite out of everything I ordered. I imagine that most people think that if you’ve tried one dumpling, then you’ve tried them all, but that’s simply not true. These dumplings were unlike any other pork dumpling I’ve ever had. Sometimes, you get a dumpling that is too doughy, and that’s no good. Other times, they come out and are too greasy, making it obvious that they’ve been deep fried. These dumplings had an unusual texture, making them chewy but not tough. I suspect that the kind of dough being used is not as thin as some other places. And I really enjoyed it! Pork dumplings with a little more chew, made them even better in my book.
Empire is worth trying. If you A. Love Chinese food, B. Need dim sum in your life, C. want to try something new or are just curious, then Empire is for you. Having a dim sum restaurant in Portland, Maine just shows how great of a food city we live in, so take advantage of another new place to try! Open 6 days a week (closed Tuesdays) Empire is soon to be your favorite new go to lunch spot. Trust me, I’ll be coming back a lot.