Emperor’s Choice – Stereotypes Aren’t Bad

It’s not often I go to a Chinese restaurant; ostensibly it would be because I could get the same food at home. The reality is that many Chinese restaurants actually serve fairly “Westernised” Chinese food, that usually isn’t truly indicative of what real Chinese cuisine is like.

But of course, that’s not a bad thing, it’s just different.

In fact, it’s because of this reason that I decided to actually go to a Chinese restaurant in the CBD for once, though this one does stay somewhat closer to the roots of Beijing cuisine. How appropriate then is the name “Emperor’s Choice”? The capital would be proud.

Date Visited: 22/11/2012
Address: 147 King Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: N/A

One other thing about going to a Chinese restaurant is that it’s safe and often predictable. Whether this is a good thing or not is up to you, but try not to take sides too much; after all, if you’re feeling adventurous, simply go somewhere else. In my case, I wanted something simple but which I knew would still serve well-made food. Emperor’s choice, we come for you!

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

It’s actually located underground, which may seem off-putting or “suss”, but once you’re down there you’ll see the place is anything but.

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

Posh is the waiting area, though as we made a booking we did not require its services.

We ordered a few classic dishes, though not too bombastic in our choices, especially as some of the guests I was with today have certain dietary requirements.

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

peking duck: 1/2 serving methods – crispy duck wrap

Still, you don’t really go to a Beijing Chinese restaurant without ordering Peking Duck – it’s just not right!

Not sure why I took such a boring picture of it, but such a dish is always better savoured with the tongue than with the eye (wait, what kind of food isn’t….). The duck is quite oily as it has the skin on, but the pancake is designed to take care of this. Surprisingly, we weren’t given any vegetables (e.g. cold cucumber, julienne leek etc) to go with it, which is a big disappointment. Nevertheless, it’s the sort of morsel that makes you want more of it – but not too much more, duck with skin is incredibly unhealthy!

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

peking duck: 2/2 serving methods – shredded duck meat w/vegetable noodle stir fry

The remaining portions of the duck are stir-fried into noodles. The overall dish is very heavy on the oil (if you can’t see the oil slick in the picture…), which spoilt the taste for me. It’s just not very fun to have my oil with noodles in them, if you get me. The duck itself probably has enough oil to confit it…

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

salted fish & chicken fried rice

This was a nice departure to the oiliness of the previous dish. The rice is cooked pretty nicely; it’s not particularly fluffy, but it also doesn’t taste like individual grains either. The fish & the chicken are cut into very little pieces so faults are more difficult to find, which frankly, is a good thing. They do add critical flavour and texture changes to the rice, that’s for sure.

I always think restaurant fried rice could use more non-rice ingredients (be it meat, eggs, veggies or whatever) and that still applies there. A 30/70 ratio would be nice, but we don’t really get that much. Still, it is indeed good; I had several bowls of the stuff.

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

braised chicken w/chilli sauce

A mainstay of Chinese food, even my dad makes variations of this at home. The sauce used is a little too reminiscent of sweet chilli for my liking – I’d prefer it to be more spicy/hot than sweet. Still, the chicken was really well-cooked, quite tender and consistent.

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

satay chicken

Okay we may have gone a bit overboard with the chicken (explanation: guests could not eat red meat), but here’s another one that’s oh-so stereotypical.

At least, stereotypes have a reason for being there when it comes to food – they don’t taste half-bad! Satay chicken has always held a soft spot in my heart, it tastes great when it’s made well. Apart from the dish being somewhat tepid, the flavours and textures were all pretty good. There was also a lot of onion, which I actually like, so points for that. In the end – it’s classic satay chicken; well-made, at that.

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

steamed sliced fish w/ginger & shallots

I usually get my fish steamed/boiled at Chinese restaurants, whether it be in water, some sauce, or chilli oil (that latter is just wonderful). The ginger soy sauce is delicious and really brings out everything good about the fish (which I believe is either perch or barramundi). It’s got that spicy, gingery soy taste which is very Chinese.

As for the texture of the fish – super soft, yet it still retains its definition. If it doesn’t break in your chopsticks when you try and pick it up, it’s good enough!

Love it.

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

fortune cookies

With the meal out of the way, we get some fortune cookies. I don’t even remember what mine says, so it probably wasn’t that memorable in the first place.

They tasted pretty nice though – a buttery flavour with a very satisfying crunch.

Emperor's Choice Seafood Restaurant

don’t look at the fat hand, look at the chocolate!

Aaaaand we get a chocolate too, for what it’s worth.

I’d actually probably go here again (when I’m not thinking of going to the obvious places like Marigold, East Ocean, Golden Century etc) if I ever have Chinese cravings again. It’s good enough for that.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀

The Good: overall quite tasty and satisfying dishes

The Bad: oil spill! Look elsewhere for fancier stuff

I give Emperor’s Choice a grand total of 7 Caesars out of ten – 7/10

Emperors Choice on Urbanspoon

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