From freshly steamed dim sum to intricate noodle baskets, Emperors of China serves up treats set for a king. Writing by Joanna Mayhew. Photography by Anna Clare Spelman.
With an increasing number of Chinese tourists flocking to Siem Reap, it is no surprise that Asian eatery Emperors of China has opened its second location to cater to the trend.
Set in the chic King’s Road Angkor complex, the expansive restaurant boasts the same authentic Chinese and Hong Kong cuisine that has made it a hit in the capital.
“In China, we’re not the best, but in Cambodia, we’re not too bad,” says Dick Wong managing director of Wong & Meas Restaurant Company, which also encompasses Blue Pumpkin, Hard Rock Café and Terrazza onsite.
Stepping into the lavish venue feels like stepping back to the times of the Quing Dynasty. Set around a manicured grass courtyard, the Peking palace-style space is designed for, well, an emperor. The two-floors are elaborately decorated in golds and reds, with oversized bamboo lamps strung from vaulted ceilings, intricate dressing shade partitions, Chinese railings, paintings of misty Chinese peaks, ornamental tea stations, and small flowers adorning rounded tables.
The food is equally ornate. The stir-fried chicken with chilli garlic ($9.5) comes served in a circular crispy noodle basket. The dark chicken has a crunchy exterior and is infused with peppercorns and strong red chillies, and served amidst green bell peppers and onions. The traditional Shanghai dish packs a serious punch, with an on-going joke being that you find the chicken in the chilli, rather than the other way around.
The deep-fried sweet and sour fish ($15) is equally Instagram worthy, with the fish’s head and tail bookending the plate – and small tomatoes where the eyes once were. The buttery and tender meat is cubed alongside diced vegetables and pleasantly drenched in the moreish sauce.
Though the mains may be a feast for the eyes, the more unassuming Cantonese-style dim sum is a restaurant specialty. The Xio long bao ($3 for four pieces), or soup dumplings, top the list, offering welcoming warm bursts of broth below the delicate skin. Served in small baskets, the shrimp dumplings ($2.80) and diced pork and shrimp dumplings ($2.80) are steamed to perfection, and light enough to indulge in several orders.
The mixed appetizer plate ($18 for small) is another popular item, but the roast pork and bean curd lack standout flavour, and the sweet-and-sour pork is overly sweet. Emporers also, naturally, offers the famous Peking duck, marinated with spicy salt, wine, garlic and ginger and rolled in pancakes.
The large location allows for all dishes to be made from scratch in house by the Hong Kong chef, using spices sourced directly from China and Hong Kong. Wong hopes this signature will be enough to draw a variety of visitors.
Combined with the venue’s grandeur, along with details like the comforting Jasmine tea to round out any meal, dining at Emporers may just make you feel like royalty.