Every door can be an opening in to a great adventure. Never judge a Chinese restaurant by its door. Like a book, you never know what know what could be written between the lines of a menu. And sometimes the plot isn’t found in the pages within, but on the walls that surround us. The walls are not an illusion. Oh they contain art. And in the case of Empire Garden their art was the Chinese characters that hid the authentic Chinese food from the Americanized Chinese food written on almost every page of their menu.
I was introduced to Empire Garden by my classmate, then co-worker and again classmate, and brother in the culinary arts, Mee Wai-Man. This would be my introduction to some of the treasures to be found not far from our school, Queensborough Community College where we are enrolled in the TechWorks program, on Springfield Boulevard.
Empire Garden is located at 61-17 Springfield Blvd., Bayside, NY 11364. The exterior looks like it’s going to be a take-out Chinese restaurant. The interior is spartan, and that’s being generous. There are eight to ten tables. A few big round ones for families, and the rest rectangular for parties or two to four. This is not a Chinese restaurant that you would take a date to, but it’s a Chinese restaurant you would go to for some Authentic Chinese cuisine, if you know how to read the writing on the wall!
We didn’t come tonight for the decor, we came to eat. Schoolwork makes one very hungry! So, we ordered. More correctly I should say Mee Wai-Man ordered.
牛肉面 Beef Stewed Noodle Soup – The broth and Udon noodles were excellent, with the broth carrying a nice spicy kick to it. The stewed beef tasted like flanken, and had just as much flavor.
椒盐排骨 Pork Chop with Salt & Pepper – Perhaps a little too salty for my taste. The pork itself was excellent. One thing to be said about this Chinese restaurant, the portions are ENORMOUS. I had plenty leftover for lunch the next day!
雞大腿白米飯豬肉棕色雞蛋 Chicken Thigh with Rice and Minced Pork – Not to mention the Brown Egg. I tasted this dish and though the chicken was very moist. Mee Wai-Man was hoping that this was the Chicken Thigh over Rice dish that is his go to dish at this Chinese restaurant. It wasn’t what he expected. For that, he would have to wait a week, which will be a subsequent article. (Don’t you just love cliff hangers? You do? Well then, let me add this… Trust me. You ain’t see nothing yet!)
Would I recommend that The Chinese Quest come to Empire Garden? No.
Would I eat there again or take out from Empire Garden? No.
Was the food good? Yes!
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)