I met up with some friends who asked if we would like to yum char at Imperial China restaurant which is located in the heart of London Chinatown. It would not have been my regular choice of place to have dim sums in London Chinatown but it is not my first time at this place.
I would say that Imperial China is not the eye-catching of restaurants on Chinatown, as the actual restaurant is situated inside a little short alley way. When you first enter in to Imperial China you have to walk through a little oriental styled bridge, which on one side has a pond filled with live goldfish to get to the dining area. It is a great and beautiful use of space.
Inside the place has a sleek modern oriental interior design. So it is unsurprising that it can be a popular choice to have lunch or dinner for diners. There is not many Chinese restaurants in London Chinatown which give you that sleek modern interior design. This place is also fairly big with variety dining rooms that each have karaoke facilities which make this a popular place to book for parties or conferences.
As a Saturday lunchtime you would expect most Chinese restaurants in Chinatown to be buzzing with people dining and this was no exception for Imperial China. When I arrived there was already people waiting for a seat but a friend had already been seated so it was straight to the table for me. After a few sip of my Chinese tea I went straight to order some dim sum. As with many common Chinese restaurant for dim sun you get a paper and pen to order what you want, in which you hand over to the waiter.
I do like to see a dim sum menu with a different because I find it can get boring ordering the same dim sums. Especially a girl like me who seem to regular yum char. At Imperial China you can find some interesting dim sums in the ingredients and the shape that you would not normally find at an average Chinese restaurant.
We ordered a rabbit shaped taro dumpling. This was crystal dumpling pastry filled with yam paste, all shaped of a rabbit. It does look good but the truth is that it taste rather odd. I found it lack taste with the yam filling and I did not personally think the ingredient with yam mixed well with the dumpling pastry. I think they would have better of used maybe cream custard or red bean paste which I have seen used for a crystal dumpling similar to this.
Imperial China used to have a ‘sister’ branch in the Finchley Road area which unfortunately closed down a few years ago. It was there where I ate my first baked shredded turnip pastry and it was wonderful. I love the texture of the crispy outside of the turnip pastry and then inside is a soft salty taste of the turnip. This dish is now can be found in quite a few London Chinese resturant for dim sum and when I do see it on the menu, I order it to try. So seeing it on the menu here I order a portion to see if it still up to the standard when I last it a year ago. The texture was the same but the different in appearance was the outside pastry had been coloured orange, making it look like a carrot. It did not have enough flavour to the turnip inside, so maybe a touch of salt might be nicer.
Another of my favourite is their butterfly steamed beef and pineapple dumpling. It is like eating a sweet and sour dish but in a form of a dumpling. A crystal dumpling pastry wrapped a saucy mixture of beef and pineapple.
If you cannot get enough of unique shaped dumpling then here is another – steamed goldfish shaped prawn dumpling. This was like having har gau (steamed prawn dumpling) but just shaped as a goldfish.
Although I do like to try out any special unique dim sum, I also like to balance it out by also ordering some familiar dim sums, like baked roast pork pastry which are really nice when it has come straight from the oven. A slightly sweet honey pastry with a piping hot saucy roast pork.
Overall the food at Imperial China is OK, but I think that there are much better Chinese resturant in London that do beautiful dim sum. The service could have been better, as it took a while to be able for us to get attention of the staff. It seem to be a look of diners but lack in number of staff working.
I have in the past had dinner at Imperial China and would say overall it was average. There was nothing special about the dishes to make me talk about it to everyone. But I cannot denied a girl like me who love sleek modern interior that Imperial China at the moment is one that has this in Chinatown.
(Prices and menu correct at the time of dining)
25a Lisle Streetut
London WC2H 7BA
020 7734 3388