If you want to make an impression for Chinese New Year, think about the Empress of China in San Francisco.
You’ll start with an elevator ride to the sixth floor, where you’ll be treated to a view of the beautiful rooftop garden and a nice view across the city. As you sit at a table by the window, you can watch Chinatown below, and the hills of San Francisco at almost eye level.
The attentive waiters ensure plenty of hot tea is available, and are willing to gently steer you to selections that will suit your tastes. They offer several prix fixe options for dinner, with most including their special Empress Chicken Salad, served cold, as the suggested appetizer.
If not going with the Prix Fixe, the Empress Appetizer Plate offers ribs, prawns, egg roll and fried won ton, or just do what we did and get an order of egg rolls. They come three to an order and halved for each eating, and sharing, with just the right balance of crunch. They come with two sauces, a mustard sauce that has a nice bite, and a traditional sweet and sour.
We tried one of the specials, Glazed Walnut Prawns, which was served on top of sliced cabbage for a delicious mix of textures and tastes, plus the Lychee (lee chee) Chicken, simply because the native Chinese fruit is not widely available. Both were great conversation starters as well as full of flavor.
The Empress Fried Rice is unusual with its sliced Chinese sausage, and is really something of an acquired taste that gave a sweet flavor to the dish. It also has diced chicken, and plenty of carrots and peas.
Other favorite dishes include Almond Chicken, Snow Peas with Barbequed Pork, Lobster Cantonese, and Pressed Duck.
It’s definitely a white tablecloth venue, although no one questioned our casual jeans. Still, with gold chargers and the beautiful décor, this is a place that deserves the time you take to dress up. The restaurant has a reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful Asian restaurants, and it lives up to that reputation quite well, transporting you back to the Han Dynasty.
And that, my friend, will make an impression.