If you’re on the lookout for satisfying comfort food that is both delicious and comes in generous serving sizes, Hakka Chinese is your best bet. The beauty of Hakka Chinese lies in its ability to satisfy even the most raving taste buds with simple Chinese dishes that are full of flavour and have the feel good spices that we so love. This week we review Red Emperor to finally find out what all the hype is about.
Think of a long narrow space, simple no-nonsense seating arrangements and an almost congested view of the open kitchen space behind. Walls lined with red wallpaper with Chinese letters engraved on it, you could say that the ambience is very casual and extremely relaxed. They’ve nailed the underwhelming-ly unimpressive look of Hakka Chinese, keeping the scene minimalistic and shifting the focus to the food instead.
The bang for buck
Their menu is simple and split into two options – platter for two people priced at Tk1,250 and platter for four priced at Tk2,400. Each platter includes one type of soup, one appetiser, one main course dish each from the prawn, beef and chicken family, one noodle dish and one rice dish. The meals come as promised; portions are large and generous enough to fill more than a regular round of two or four people.
Tangy chicken soup 2.5/5
Served steaming hot, the tangy chicken soup looks a lot like a darker version of the regular chicken corn soup we’re used to. It’s tangy alright, but the flavour of soy sauce is what overpowers the soup. It’s meant to be slightly spicy, or so we were told, but it’s fairly palatable even for those who aren’t used to hot spices.
Hakka Chicken wings 3.5/5
These babies demand to be devoured. Think large chicken wings smothered generously in a devilishly dark sauce. The sauce is sweet with a slight hit of hot spices. Although we were expecting crispier skin and tender insides, we got half of the bargain. The skin seemed to easily peel off the chicken, taking with it most of the flavours as well as the sauce. Despite these shortcomings, the portion, the sauce and the wings itself seemed to be one of the better items on their menu.
Squid spicy salt and pepper 2.5/5
Supposedly one of their better dishes, the squid arrived in chunky deep fried pieces, sprinkled with a handful of chopped spring onions and pepper to give it a kick of spices. While it was fried to perfection, that seemed to be its top quality. A little on the drier side, the squids are meant for quick bites that are not to be taken too seriously.
Prawn Chilli Garlic 2.5/5
The prawn chilli garlic seemed to follow the family recipe adopted by the squid. Tasting quite similar, again, these too were fried really well and came with a sprinkling of spring onions. The only difference was perhaps the slight garlic-y flavour of the prawns.
Chicken fried rice 3/5
The chicken fried rice is just that – a plain and simple fried rice that is unimpressive when eaten without sides. That’s still acceptable since we had stellar accompaniments such as the crispy beef to add where the fried rice lacked.
Chicken Hakka Noodles 4/5
Now this is one of their better dishes that commands the attention of your taste buds and with good reason too. Chewy, oily noodles full of the rich flavours of Hakka spices, complete with chicken strips and the odd chilli. It’s the kind of perfectly orchestrated noodle dish that you can have alone or with other side dishes.
Kungpao Chicken 3/5
Their version of the kungpao chicken comes in a large platter with peppers and peanuts. Don’t expect to find the chicken drowning in sauce because theirs is a strictly stir fried version. Rather expect the chicken chunks to be lightly glazed with the sauce. The kungpao is sweet, sour and makes a good accompaniment to the rice.
Crispy beef 4/5
Another special on their menu, the crispy beef stands completely true to its name. Arriving on a platter of thinly sliced beef, this is smothered in a sweet and hot sauce and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. It’s the kind of a beef dish that deserves a repeat order. It’s crispy, it’s hot, and it’s sweet – it is the ultimate Hakka Chinese dish, at least as far as Red Emperor is concerned.
House 15 (1st floor), Rd No 8, Banani, Dhaka
Open from: 12pm– 4 pm, 6.30om – 11pm