410 E. Green St., Champaign
Empire Chinese is, you guessed it, a Chinese restaurant located in Campustown in the Skylight apartment building on the corner of 5th and Green Street. They have a wide offering of dishes, and will make them spicier if you would like (I do). It’s an order-at-the-counter joint, and depending on how busy they are they will bring your food when it is ready (or holler your order for you to come pick up).
The cleanliness of the place used to be a bit sketchy, but they apparently did some remodeling in the past year and the inside of the restaurant is much cleaner than it used to be. One of the things they removed during the remodel was their Pepsi fountain station. We both had water, which was fine with us.
I ordered the Szechuan chicken, which comes with vegetables and rice. The Szechuan chicken and vegetables were nice and spicy, and cooked perfectly. I also ordered an egg roll and a bowl of egg drop soup. Their egg drop soup is, in a word, phenomenal. I’ve tried to make egg drop soup at home many times and can’t ever get it to be even as good as the stuff at the buffet out by Lowe’s. The soup at Empire is by far and away better.
Betsy ordered chicken chow mein fun. She loved it. There were lots of vegetables and napa, and the sauce was nice and light and garlicky. She also had hot and sour soup, and said that of all the Chinese places we’ve eaten at, it is, in her opinion, the best hot and sour soup in Champaign-Urbana. The bowls of soup were full bowls, not just cups, so we had a lot of food for not a lot of money.
I’m glad to see that this place has cleaned up a bit. There’s not much to it, ambiance-wise, but the food is wonderful and quite affordable. We’ll definitely be back.