Outside, flames blaze within a set of stone cauldrons atop towering tripods. The vessels, known as dings, have been symbols of power in China since ancient times, when dynasties ruled the empire—making them a fitting façade for the Emperor’s Palace. Within the restaurant’s high ceilings, a dining room takes inspiration from the Suzhou Botanical Gardens, with tables sitting among waterfalls, ponds connected by bridges, and an open, four-sided Chinese-style pagoda with red and gold accents and pointed eaves.
Amid the traditional Chinese décor, aromas of sizzling meats and piquant sauces waft from an open kitchen, where chefs perform as they sear, broil, and stir-fry more than 200 dishes in full view of patrons. They craft traditional and American-Chinese dishes such as roasted peking duck and walnut shrimp, American-style charbroiled steak, sushi, and Korean-style kimchi. Contributing to the restaurant's international focus, seafood dishes incorporate such ingredients as New Zealand blue mussels and Alaskan crab legs complete with miniature snowshoes.
The chefs at Lucky Sushi House reach beyond the borders of their eatery's name by serving a menu that not only features sushi, but also Japanese teriyaki dishes and Chinese staples such as orange chicken. Behind the sushi bar, chefs stack morsels of eel nigiri and roll combinations of crab, avocado, and tuna into cozy cocoons of rice. While admiring the decorative fans on the walls or peering into the restaurant's aquarium to check for messages in bottles, patrons can also crunch into squid-tempura rolls, split a plate of pot stickers, and swig Harbin Lager imported from China.
The menu at Lucky China features many familiar dishes, from egg foo young to sweet and sour chicken. The chef's specialties section highlights favorites such as orange beef cooked with mandarin orange peel, golden crispy shrimp, and the Four Seasons—beef, shrimp, chicken, and pork with a vegetable medley. One corner of the menu departs from tradition, however, offering "lite," low-calorie fare that has been steamed instead of fried. The Triple Delight, for example, mixes chicken, beef, and shrimp with white rice and no salt.
Panda Palace fuses artful noshes with foreign favorites in a menu of authentic Chinese fare, focusing on delicacies drafted from Sichuan and Shanghai. Adventurous eaters can pack for trans-Pacific swims by filling swim trunks with steaming pork egg rolls ($1 each), and then floating around while hustling up some fresh shrimp-fried rice midjourney ($5.39/small, $7.20/large). Regular takeouters can gnaw on time-tested tasties, such as the beef with broccoli ($7.50), and more ambitious eaters can hang fang on a half-serving of peking duck ($15.99).