For a family celebration, Mother Hen was in charge and had picked East Empress as the place for our dinner.
In Glen Waverley area, there's no shortage of Chinese restaurants. However, EE is one of the more slightly upmarket suburban Chinese restaurants. Over the years, we've been to EE a few times - I think mainly because it's convenient to us and the place is a bit more swish than your run of the mill suburban Chinese restaurant.
I still have a little chuckle to myself when I drive past EE, as it's pretty hard to miss. Located on Springvale Road (near The Glen), it has a massive capital E that's done up in red lighting to subtly let everyone know its presence.
As it's been so long since I last ate at EE, I had forgotten what it looked like on the inside. It's quite a big restaurant, that's spread out across two floors. And, surprisingly, it's quite nicely decked out with a nice blend of traditional Asian accents with a slight 90s edge to it. The mood lighting gives the place a bit more class and ambiance.
We headed upstairs to our table, and we were quite impressed that the whole floor was already filled out with diners - mostly Westerners. It's clearly the place for entertaining, as most of the tables were big tables (8+ seats).
As it was a special occasion, Mother Hen went for one of the banquets (the $46.90 pp), which gets you four entrees, two mains, dessert and tea/coffee. Given that Bubba Chuck is a child, we asked if we could swap her cup of tea for a glass of soft drink/juice. The response was pretty unimpressive. It was no. Because apparently providing a soft drink instead of tea isn't factored into the price of the meal. I mean, sheesh, I doubt very much that giving us a glass of soft drink would eat into their profit margins that much (if at all). Plus, as we were paying full price for Bubba Chuck, you'd figured it's not an unreasonable request from us. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
The first of the entrees was a seafood curry served in a scallop shell. Initially, we thought there'd be at least some scallops in it, but no, it's just diced chicken and veg that's served in a shell. This a bit claggy in texture and a tad greasy with the crumbed topping.
Next was san choy bao. This was a pretty big serve of the minced chicken and veg. While I didn't care for that sauce that was squirted on top, I did like the filling. Crunchy, pleasing textures and piping hot. There was so much filling that I had to eat this with a spoon.
Then came the Peking duck, which you got two serves each. The duck was nice - a nice chunky slice with a crispy skin. Although, I would have liked more cucumber and spring onions in it.
The last of the entrees was the grandly named "harmonious blend of prawns and scallops wok-tossed with crunchy snow peas". Good points were that the seafood were fairly big in size and it was stir fried with lots of Chinese cooking wine and ginger. The not so good point was that the seafood tasted and looked like it had been frozen for a very long time.
The first of the two mains was Cantonese fillet steak w rice. Nice big pieces of tender steak with a nice tomatoey sauce and lots of onion slivers.
The other main dish was teriyaki chicken with special fried rice. However, in my I'm-getting-too-full state, I forgot to take a photo of it. While the large chunks of chicken was meh, I did like the fried rice which had reasonable amount of wok hei.
Given that all the dishes had come out pretty quickly, there was a bit of a wait before our dessert came out - this was a good thing since we were all very full. There's nothing fancy or artistic about the deep fried bananas or pineapple ring with a slab of vanilla ice cream. But hey, it's sometimes the unfancy stuff that appeals to the kid in us. A light crispy batter and the drizzle of caramel pretty much erased what little dietary goodness there was in the fruit. Good but bad at the same time.
Food – 7
Service – 6.5
Ambiance – 7.5
Price – 6.5
For a place that's pitching itself as something more than the average suburban Chinese restaurant, EE sort of delivers. It's got the ambiance and the menu selection but the actual food is mixed. Some of the dishes were above average (san choy bao, Peking duck and the Cantonese beef) with good flavours and nice ingredients but the rest of the dishes weren't that memorable or noteworthy (what with the frozen ingredients and lack of scallops in the first entree).
Service was prompt but I couldn't get past the whole "we're not giving you a soft drink in lieu of the tea because it's not part of the price".
263 Springvale Road
Glen Waverley 3150
Telephone: 9887 8388