King Crab at Empire Seafood Restaurant

by Ed Lau on March 8, 2010

If you’ve ever seen a king crab in a supermarket fish tank or on Deadliest Catch, they are freaky looking buggers, especially when they tip the scales at ten pounds or more. On the other hand, regardless of how they look, they’re delicious. Actually, that seems to be the case with quite a few weird looking members of the animal kingdom. So when my family told me they wanted to go out for king crab because at $10 a pound, they’re roughly half what they normally cost, I decided to tag along.

Empire Seafood Restaurant (7997 Westminster Hwy, (604)249-0080) is located on No. 3 Road in Richmond, next to London Drugs. It is perpetually busy so you’ll want to make reservations and don’t be surprised if you don’t get slotted into the time that you initially choose, especially when there are special deals going on If you like dim sum, Empire Seafood offers 20% off on everything for early morning dim sum, which means you put in all your orders before 11am but again, good luck getting a seat. There was at least two or three tables waiting the entire time I was there and we already got there quite early for dinner at 630pm. There are all kinds of different dishes available including a number of different exotic seafood dishes. We ordered off a set menu, which is $168 for six people and includes eight courses.

First course is a soup. This is a thick, clear broth with crab meat, prawns, and fish maw, which is the air bubble in fish that controls their buoyancy. Yes, that sounds strange but I love this stuff. I might even like it better than shark fin as it has a great crunchy texture and mild flavor.

The soup is delicious with big chunks of crab and prawns. The serving is also generous as the bowl was large enough for everyone to get a second serving.

This is fried king crab with salt and hot peppers, which is probably my favorite way to eat crab. It’s not too oily and the batter isn’t too thick. If you can’t handle the spicy, though, you might want to brush off some of the hot peppers beforehand as they don’t skimp on the hotness.

The main event is this, steamed king crab legs with minced garlic.

Each piece is just brimming with garlic and maybe a little too much of it. There are a few pieces with less meat than I would like but overall, there’s lots to love here. The crab is sweet and tender. Just don’t breathe in anyone’s face afterwards.

This is a bean curd with bak choy. I assume this is a sort of cleansing vegetarian dish after the onslaught of spice and garlic. Not bad…not really my thing though. The bean curd is actually not bad and has some texture rather than being too soft and falling apart.

Next is a roast duck, two ways. First we have Peking duck, wrapping the crispy skin and top layer of the meat with some hoisin sauce, green onion and cuccumber in some thin flour crepes. Duck can be incredibly fatty sometimes but this one was rather lean with just a small layer of fat between the crispy skin and meat. Hoisin, green onion and duck is just a delicious combination.

The second duck dish is the remaining meat is pan fried with some water chestnuts, onion, and celery. This is wrapped in iceberg lettuce leaves with a little hoisin. It tastes fantastic but I was a little disappointed by the serving size. Flavor-wise it was good but we didn’t really get enough of it.

The last savory course was some egg noodles with bean sprouts. I totally forgot to get a picture of it but it didn’t look particularly special in the first place and it wasn’t very good. There was an overwhelming garlic flavor that drowned out anything else. I’m a big fan of garlic but this basically tasted like I was biting into a couple cloves of it.

We also got a hot red bean dessert which was pretty good despite the fact that I don’t really like this sort of thing. Not too sweet.

Service was prompt to say the least as I’m sure they wanted us to eat quickly and get out so they can get more table turnover. Our dishes arrived extremely quickly and for a short period of time, we had very little room on our table. I’m sure that some of it is prepared ahead of time to meet demand but everything was still piping hot and well cooked when it arrived. Other aspects of service were a bit spotty, though. Our tea was empty for a long period of time and one time, our waiter swapped half our plates and forgot the rest. I also have a bit of a problem with how they try to cram as many tables in the restaurant as possible. We got a pretty good spot but one unfortunate party was seated right next to the door…where all the people waiting for a table were standing around…standing above them watching them eat. That just seems like it shouldn’t happen…not to mention they probably got blasted with cold air and rain every time the door was opened.

Overall, a rather good meal. One might consider the price a bit steep but ingredients like king crab isn’t cheap. Ours was an eight pound crab so that accounted for about half the cost of the meal. It’s unfortunate that they’re so busy all the time and that compromises the experience a little bit but then again, do you really want to go to a restaurant that’s dead quiet? If you want to eat one of these giant crustaceans, give Empire Seafood Restaurant a go while the going is hot.

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in Food and Fine Dining

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Kwan March 8, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Haha, of course the menu is $168.

I remember when places had that price for 10-person set menus, including lobster (but not king crab).

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Marquelle March 12, 2010 at 1:31 am

So from your eight pound crab, how much of it was flesh and how much was shell?

Assuming it was eight pounds to begin with…

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Net Age | Web Design March 14, 2010 at 7:58 am

My oh my but those crabs look delicious. I’ve watched the crab-fishermen doing their thing on discovery channel a couple of times, and I was curious as to what all the fuss was all about, but since I’ve tasted crab I love it!

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simon June 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I usually go to there for dim sum. The price is alright and the food is not too bad.

However, I do caution that the service there is unacceptable and I will likely not revisit the place again.

We ordered dim sum @ 10AM. By 10:40AM we were pretty much finished and noticed that one dish has still not arrived. I flagged down one of their employees (the General Manager) to get the bill and also told him to cancel the dish that did not arrive for almost 40 minutes. He acknowledged and then walked away for a few minutes. Then he returned with the missing dish and just shoved it onto the table. We reminded him that I asked that it be cancelled and that we were finished the meal. He said “You ordered it so you must take it regardless” (in Cantonese). The attitude exerted gave me the feeling that he doesn’t appreciate and respect customers. At no point did he apologize or showed remorse for the delay caused.

In my opinion, it is very shocking to see such attitude from a senior level manager. I cannot convince myself that this restaurant deserves any of my business.

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