The Bronze Empire took its time opening since first hanging a sign last year at 1591 South Colorado Boulevard, but the results are worth the wait. The Chinese restaurant opened in July in the space that had been home to Red Coral for more than 25 years. The new restaurant is sleek and modern, with spacious booths, dark-wood furnishings and a fully stocked bar tastefully decorated with Chinese art.
The Bronze Empire specializes in hot pots, so each place setting has its own induction burner set into the tabletops, which means you can have multiple pots simmering at the same table. Guests have options including broth flavors, meats, seafood, vegetables and several styles of tofu. Although a few other restaurants in town offer hot pots, the setup and presentation here make the restaurant unique in the city.
The menu also includes classic stir-fried dishes, ramen and steamed buns, but one of the most curious dishes on the roster is a ramen sandwich, available with either sauteed mushrooms or pork belly. Two disks of pressed and fried ramen noodles stand in for buns and hold a mountain of crisp vegetables and (in the photo above) tender slabs of seared pork belly. The texture of the ramen cakes is almost like a hash brown, only with noodles instead of potatoes. It's a fun and goofy addition for those looking for something other than a full hot-pot immersion.
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The Bronze Empire is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (9 p.m. on Sundays).