When Cantonese Master Chef Lam Pui Hung served his Empress Treasure Pot during an exclusive press launch of The Empress Dining Palace at BGC late last month, the showstopper dish was, without exaggeration, nothing short of extraordinary.
The celebratory pot, called poon choi in Cantonese, is filled with premium delicacies such as abalones, sea cucumbers, Peking duck slices, and shiitake mushrooms, among others.
“This is a traditional Chinese food served usually during New Year or when there is an occasion. This was a specialty of my father, too, and he’d cook it whenever there is a special event at home,” Chef Lam said in Cantonese, as translated by one of the restaurant’s staff.
“It is a complete meal in itself—there’s different kinds of meat and vegetables. I did not adjust the taste because I want Filipinos to enjoy an authentic Cantonese dish. We are in luck as the Philippines is abundant in the ingredients we need for our dishes,” he added.
According to Aida Velasco, the restaurant’s chief operating officer, not all Chinese restaurants can offer the treasure pot in their menu.
“Magastos kasi (It’s expensive because) the ingredients are all premium. But here at Empress, you don’t even have to reserve in advance to order the treasure pot—just give us about 30 minutes in preparation time. That is how confident we are of the quality and freshness of our ingredients,” she said.
The other dishes served during the press launch were equally fit for royalty. There was Peking duck imported from Hong Kong, xiao long bao (soupy pork dumpling), steamed sea bass fillet with Cordycep flower and fungus, and chicken with minced mushroom in egg white wrapper.
Dessert was the deceptively simple yet refreshing almond beancurd with longan (the almond jelly imported straight from Singapore to ensure consistent silken texture unlike the coarser local counterpart).
While The Empress Dining Palace serves an extensive menu of classic Cantonese cuisine, it also has select dishes from the Northern region, from mouth-watering appetizers to its highly praised seafood choices. There’s crispy eel from Wu Xi town, for example, which is known for dishes on the sweet side.
Its main dining hall can accommodate 108 guests fit for every occasion, while its VIP rooms can hold up to 48 guests for a more private and dedicated service host.
On Dec. 7, the fine dining restaurant also began offering its The Empress Royal Dim sum Buffet.
Guests can feast on unlimited baskets of wide selection of dim sums and la mian noodles with braised beef brisket for only P888+ per head. The selection includes the restaurant’s signature steamed soup pork xiao long bao, steamed shrimp dumpling hakau, and baked bo lo BBQ pork buns.
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