New hotpot place in Orchard! It’s been a while since Orchard is home to new brands and I was a little taken aback to see Empire opening so many restaurants at Ngee Ann City level 5.
The interior looks super grand and polished but you’d be surprised to know that apart from hotpot, Empire Hotpot also serves Hong Kong cha chan teng food! Not going to lie, first impressions were a little bit confusing.
What pushed me to give Empire hotpot a try was its lobster soup. Unfortunately they only serve it as a single pot and if you wanted a yuan yang pot so you could try another soup, you would have to pay the full price ($38) because half a lobster is included in the soup either way. I ended up choosing the Fish Maw and Shark Cartilage ($19) and Chicken Soup with Yellow Morel ($14) instead.
The Shark Cartilage and Fish Maw soup was comforting and satisfying but the same cannot be said for the Chicken and Yellow Morel soup. The latter was too overpowered by the yellow morel and it just tasted like mushrooms soaked in water. Not a fan of that soup to say the least.
There’s no need to walk to get your sauces — the entire sauce counter is brought to your table and the staff will mix a concoction to your liking.
The pork belly is sliced so thinly (you can actually look right through it and see the black plate right below it) that you don’t feel like you’ve eaten anything. It looks like a mountain of meat but there’s actually a lot of cabbage underneath. I also ordered the Shirobuta pork belly ($20) and honestly I could not tell the difference between the two. They just dissolved into thin air after putting a piece into my mouth!
Like the pork, the quantity and quality of the beef is not worth the money. The beef came really frozen and the texture was rather tough! The chicken was perhaps the best meat of the trio.
The Shrimp Wanton is really worth a try as comes with huge whole prawns!
The Dace fishball is also worth a try. It has an acquired taste, stronger and more outstanding than your usual fishball, but kudos to Empire for bringing in something different as compared to the run of the mill fishball in other hotpot restaurants.
I also ordered the Prawn Paste ($14) which they will help to break up into bite size pieces.
The vegetable platter was delightful and possibly the most worth it dish in the meal. There were four varieties of vegetables, five varieties of mushrooms, and fried beancurd skin!
Remember at the start of the post I mentioned you can order cha chan teng stuff here? I was feeling so underwhelmed by the hotpot (not forgetting it comes with a premium price tag!!) that I decided to order a honey butter toast to try. It was certainly a good decision which made my meal a slightly better one.
391 Orchard Road
Ngee Ann City
Visit Empire Hotpot’s website for their full menu.
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