Empress Court holds a world of enchantment
By Brock Radke
Photos by Peter Harasty
he iconic Caesars Palace boasts an amazing array of dining experiences, from the fine French cuisine of Restaurant Guy Savoy to the legendary New York steakhouse Old Homestead, and everything in between. But few of the restaurants in this sprawling
resort provide a true escape from the rapid-fire sensory assault of the Strip. If you’re looking for serenity, quiet relaxation in exotic environs, all while enjoying a memorable meal, sneak away to Empress Court.
Hidden away on the second floor overlooking the Garden of the Gods pool area, Empress Court can only be accessed by an elevator adjacent to the Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro and Rao’s restaurants. Once you’re whisked upstairs and away from the bustling casino floor, you’ll be instantly entranced by this quiet temple of a dining room. Snug booths roll around the center-circle of this intimate room, with a shimmering purple sky mimicked overhead. It takes only seconds to decide you’ve discovered a veritable hidden treasure.
Cantonese cuisine is the specialty here, with an emphasis on fresh seafood. In fact, you can’t get it any fresher than the selection of live seafood entrées, including Santa Barbara spot prawns, abalone, rare crystal crab or the Dungeness variety of this sweet, succulent crustacean. Another hard-to-find but easy-to-love delicacy is the geoduck clam, served in thin, tender slices in a clean, vegetable-based garlic sauce. Every plate here is served with a simple yet refined approach, allowing the ingredients to shine without excessive presentation or elaborate seasoning. In other words, Empress Court is keeping it real.
Start with the Chinese-American retro favorite, honey-walnut shrimp, perfectly crisped, or with savory pork and vegetable dumplings, pan-fried. Hot-and-sour or wonton soup will warm you over, but save room for those stellar seafood dishes. Pan-seared sea bass is the epitome of the preparation style here, cooked to perfection and served only with sweet soy sauce. The pure taste of the fish, fatty and stocked with rich flavor yet light and flaky in texture, is almost unbelievable. To spice things up a bit, try sweet crab stir-fried with ginger, a tastebud-awakening bite.
Another classic is Imperial Peking duck, served two ways at Empress Court: with traditional mu-shu “pancakes,” or emphasizing crispy skin and tender breast meat with plum sauce. Lemon chicken, wonderfully crunchy and breaded with panko bread crumbs, arrives on a dish of bright yellow sweet-and-sour sauce that can be addictive. Pair those meaty dishes with Hong Kong-style fried rice, chewy lo mein or crispy street noodles topped with scallops, shrimp and vegetables, and your meal is complete. Well, almost … mango pudding is a must for dessert, a naturally sweet, fruity and creamy delight that will leave you refreshed, just like any great escape should.
Caesars Palace 5-10 p.m. Sun., Wed.-Thurs.,
5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 702.731.7888