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“Hidden Gem”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Empire Dynasty

Empire Dynasty
Price range: $20 - $35
Cuisines: Chinese, Asian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children
Dining options: Dinner, Seating, Takeout, Waitstaff
Farmington Hills, Michigan
Level Contributor
84 reviews
69 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Hidden Gem”
Reviewed March 19, 2013

Great food, good prices. While it's great that we can almost always be seated immediately - I worry that they aren't getting enough business. They are very accommodating to those with dietary issues. Will make certain dishes without sugar, etc. if requested. Needs a little interior updating.

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank twidgetbeth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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19 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    9
    7
    2
    1
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Farmington Hills, Michigan, United States
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“empire dynasty”
Reviewed March 10, 2013

Just because it includes "basil intestines" and "pork stomach with celery," that doesn't mean you should shun everything else on an excellent authentic Chinese menu.
Though it's five years old, I've never seen Empire Dynasty on anyone's list of genuine Chinese restaurants in the area (where you find Shangri-La, Golden Harvest, Kai Garden and Hong Hua), but it belongs there. (Thanks to alert reader Mark Cooper for clueing me in; other readers, please do likewise.)
The owners and chef are from Shandong, an eastern coastal province that produced one of the eight traditional Chinese cuisines, and many of the dishes are from there. Shandong is known for its seafood, complex vinegars and de-emphasis on rice.
Their website is straightforward about the Empire's offerings: There's an "American menu," with the familiar almond chicken, egg foo young, even chop suey; you'll be brought that automatically if you're round-eyed. And there's the "Chinese menu," with English translations, which offers stomach and intestines cooked six ways but also such delights as steamed whitefish and Szechuan boiled fish. I would like to eat my way through all the 72 non-offal dishes on the Empire menu.
We're used to eating our fish fried, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we thereby miss out on what poaching can do, which is to concentrate the flavors. Asian steamed whitefish comes to your table simmering in a thin, salty garlic sauce, still cooking in its metal pan. The enormous fish is firm but soft, bones removed.
A very distinct variation is Szechuan-style boiled fish, a gorgeous dish of golden whitefish, in a crimson sauce sprinkled with bright green cilantro stems, seasoned with ginger and plenty of Chinese hot red peppers and prickly ash, the pungent tiny black berries also known as Sichuan pepper. My party agreed this was the best of our five dishes one evening.
There are 21 seafood dishes, featuring sea cucumber, clams, squid, shrimp, scallops and "Fish with Pickled Vegetables in a Pot." "Happy Family" is "All Seafood." For a special party, diners can pre-order live fish that will be sacrificed at the last moment.
Turning to birds and land animals, you'll find mutton with fennel seeds, chicken-style sweet and sour pork, and chicken with explosive chili pepper. Empire duck was our favorite on this list; though it's cooked very crisp, the interior loses none of its fatty lusciousness. Peking duck is also available.
Lamb with basil is cooked with quivery Chinese black mushrooms and big sprigs of the herb. It's hot, but much less so than the Szechuan fish, and you can, of course, ask for adjustments when you order.
I wanted noodles, and asked for zha jiang, which the waiter said was Korean. Manager Gina later explained that Shandong people who'd lived in Korea had adapted various of their dishes. There's a tableside show of mixing black bean sauce into the dark, thick wheat noodles with chopsticks, then cutting the noodles with scissors. All of Empire's noodles are house-made.
Zha jiang includes baby shrimp and onions but the overall flavor is strong and smoky, very satisfying, a winter dish.
A hearty vegetable dish is eggplant with ginger garlic sauce. The sauce is almost barbecue-like, and the eggplant, cut in strips, not rounds, retains a pleasing firmness, as the red and green peppers retain their crispness. The Chinese do wonders with eggplant; the Mandarin word qié zi (sounds like "chedze") is what people say when they smile for a photograph.
On the American menu, the dishes of most interest are labeled "fusion," handwritten on the inside cover. They all seem to feature fruit, in unusual ways. My friend asked for "Seafood Wonder," which was shrimp and scallops with asparagus — and strawberries — in a ginger blackberry sauce. Warm strawberries were an interesting touch, at least to try once. Sesame shrimp comes with water chestnuts and big florets of broccoli in a honey garlic sauce; it's quite sweet, with that familiar American-Chinese flavor as the under note.
Empire Dynasty is located in a strip mall that's seen better days, but inside it's decorated with dramatic pictures like downtown Hong Kong from the air and Colbert-style eagles swooping over the Great Wall. Service can be slow when tables are full, though it's certainly worth the wait. We saw tables of both Caucasians and Chinese, the latter seated around a big round table in the Chinese style.
Gina said that the Empire's chef has been cooking for 30 years, 15 of them in China, where he had a "top license." I asked if he preferred cooking in the American-Chinese style or one of the Chinese cuisines. The American style is easier, she said, whereas Chinese style is all "one for one cooking." I was admonished when I asked if my zha jiang noodles could be brought first, as an appetizer. "It's a big dish," the waiter said. "It takes time."

  • Visited December 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Sam W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Detroit, Michigan
Level Contributor
86 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Love this place”
Reviewed September 21, 2012

We have been going to this place for 12 years. We love it. When friends come to town and want chinese food, then we take them here. We have tried other chinese food places, but they pale in comparison. The food is great, the service is great and the speed of service is great.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Barry N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Livonia, Michigan
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Forced to pay a tip!!!!”
Reviewed October 1, 2011

My boyfriend and I frequent this place a lot and tonight I think that is coming to an end. Our meal was good like usual but we got the bill and there arose the problem. Our meals with tax came to $24.95 but the bill was $27.07 and in bold letters it said the work TIP we were stunned as we have always have great service and good food here. So when we went to cash out I spoke with the manager about the issue and she responded "well they are trying to make money and sometime you tip very little or not at all" I said that does not give you the right to include the tip on my bill. She said well ....well and my boyfriend just paid the woman. I am so angry at this place. Since when is it okay to legally charge people tips regardless of the situation. Unless of course there are six or more people then gratuity is included, but that was not the case here. Simply ridiculous we will NOT be going back. Crappy service in the past was why they seldom got tips.

  • Visited October 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Barbie85014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Novi, Michigan
Level Contributor
37 reviews
21 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Always Tasty”
Reviewed September 1, 2011

We go to empire dynasty all the time and are pleased every time. great food and service. dining room is a little dark.

  • Visited August 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank MattL77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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