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Home > Restaurants > Empire Szechuan

Empire Szechuan

  • Cuisine: Chinese, Japanese/Sushi, Thai, Vegetarian/Vegan
  • Price Range: $$

    Key to Prices and ratings

    Upscale
    • Almost Perfect
    • Exceptional
    • Generally Excellent
    • Very Good
    • Good
    Cheap Eats
    • Best in Category
    • Excellent
    • Delicious
    • Very Good
    • Noteworthy
    • Very Expensive
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    • Moderate
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Official Website

empiretogo.com

Payment Methods

American Express, MasterCard, Visa

Special Features

  • Good for Groups
  • Kid-Friendly
  • Late-Night Dining
  • Lunch
  • Open Kitchens / Watch the Chef
  • Tea Time
  • Online Ordering
  • Delivery after 10pm
  • Reservations Not Required

Alcohol

  • Beer and Wine Only
  • Sake and Soju

Reservations

Accepted/Not Necessary

Profile

This keep-it-simple chain bridges much of Asia—its four branches churn out enough Chinese, Japanese, Thai, "Revolution Diet" (health conscious), and vegetarian food to fill a 10-page menu. The 97th St. flagship opened in 1976 and doesn't appear to have been remodeled since. Garish violet and aqua neon illuminate the sprawling space, and a massive, poorly reproduced Japanese mural covers the back wall. The seating is austere: marbleized formica tables, large booths, and a sushi bar adorned by wood and paper lanterns. Of the overwhelming and largely mediocre offerings, the best deal is on daily half-price rolls and maki, and the best eats are Szechuan specialties. The Paradise Chicken douses shredded meat, slightly sweet red bell peppers, and earthy Portobello mushrooms in a spicy red chili sauce typical of the region. The more adventurous jumbo shrimp are glazed with a house-made honey walnut sauce and served with candied walnuts. The dim sum, sadly, doesn't live up to its hype. For a Hong Kong favorite done well, there's a bracingly cool and frothy Bubble Tea, served in the restaurant and in an attached café that specializes in tea and smoothies—mainly fruity flavors in black and green tea concoctions, always served with giant straws for reaching the trademark tapioca balls (which you suck up through the straw) clustered at the bottom.

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