TNT Diner

Emperor’s City in Orting has closed, leaving the area with a Chinese food shortage

Emperor’s City Asian Restaurant in downtown Orting has closed.
Emperor’s City Asian Restaurant in downtown Orting has closed.

In an area already short on Chinese-focused restaurants, the closure of Emperor’s City Asian Restaurant in Orting is going to be painful for lovers of old style chop suey restaurants.

Emperor’s City closed two weeks ago. Owner Sean Ly, who purchased the restaurant about three years ago, said he couldn’t make the restaurant work financially.

“Thanks for all the memories,” said Ly to his loyal diners. “They loved us, and I appreciate all the years they gave us business. I love them like they’re my family. That was really awesome, but I can’t survive.”

He said he could no longer afford the rent. He won’t be finding a new location. This is a permanent closure.

The restaurant focused on the typical Chinese-American menu found throughout the region: Almond fried chicken, Mongolian beef, barbecued pork, egg foo yung and sweet and sour pork alongside a few Thai and Vietnamese offerings.

The closure is one of several Chinese restaurant losses in recent years.

In the last two years, the area has lost Imperial Dragon in Tacoma, Jade Palace in University Place and Tea Leaf and Lieu’s in Parkland. Main Garden in downtown Puyallup is searching for a new space but will close at the end of next month because its building was purchased by the Eagles. Rose Garden lost its space in South Hill in September but intends to reopen soon at a new South Hill location by Ivar’s and Pho Tai.

By my count, there are fewer than a dozen restaurants left that offer a full dining experience with table service and broad menus focused on Chinese food.

Not including buffets or those ubiquitous teriyaki restaurants with wok menus, there’s Dragon Ball Restaurant and Peking Garden in Sumner; House of Kee in South Hill; Tacoma Szechuan, Cheng’s Asian Restaurant, Hunan Garden and Yen Ching in Lakewood; Hong Kong Restaurant, Ming Palace and North China Garden in Tacoma; and Panda Garden in Gig Harbor.

Is that it?

Real estate woes aside, a question worth pondering is this: As more teriyaki fast food restaurants expand their concepts to include Chinese wok take-out is there less of a need for sit-down older style Chinese restaurants?

Local diners are telling me their preferences have shifted away from Chinese food. They consider the Americanized style of Chinese food old fashioned, and their new favorites are Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. Could that be the reason?

Have a thought on why the area’s Chinese restaurants are disappearing? Email me at I’d like to hear why you think we’re losing all our Chinese restaurants.

Sue Kidd has been The News Tribune’s restaurant critic since 2008. She dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals. Sue is a South Sound native. She writes about new restaurants, openings and closures and knows where to find the best tacos in every neighborhood.