I am a total sucker for a Chinese. It all began when I was younger, circa eight years old, and my parents ordered me my first one from our local shop, lemon chicken and egg fried rice being the order of the day. Little did I know that I’d be eagerly ordering lemon chicken for years to come – you know how it is, when you’re having Chinese you peruse the menu for all of two minutes but you always, yes always, venture back to your trusty favourite. That was until I got older and with it, I like to think, my palette matured too.
So, going down to Imperial Treasure, which opened in December 2018, was a treat from the off and even more so when we reached the grand front doors of the Grade II-listed building, previously Lloyd’s Bank, on St James’s Waterloo Place.
Sitting down at our white-clothed table, I was quick to notice the grandiose nature of this elaborate building. Interiors remain classy but promote tinges of orangey-yellows, offset by dark wooden panels, throughout. In Chinese culture yellow symbolises royalty and, when viewed through an ancient lens, it is perhaps the most important colour. High ceilings and a large centrepiece bar paints the restaurant in a very regal light.
Imperial Treasure is the first London outpost of a restaurant group from Singapore and has in fact been awarded two Michelin stars by the Michelin Shanghai guide in 2018. The food is the result of a delve into the mind of award-winning restaurateur, Alfred Leung, and explores seasonal ingredients and sustainably sourced fish and live seafood. I noticed, after a flick through the menu, that fish heavily features on the Imperial Treasure offering, seen in the form of Gillardeau oysters, soft shell crab and silver cod.
Leung’s culinary prowess is, undeniably, reflected in the prices given to the dashing 11 pages of Chinese cuisine across the menu, but rightly so as the creative embellishments given to such classic Chinese dishes is quite the eye-catcher for someone looking for the luxe in a menu.
There are various tasting menus on offer, each ranging in dishes and prices. The Signature Set Menu champions highlights of crispy lobster roll, golden okra, foie gras and beancurd followed by soft shell crab with soya crumble, then stir fried prawns with chilli sauce and crispy corn fed chicken with almond flakes.
Our menu was a eight-course tasting delight that was superbly diverse with its cornucopia of dishes. Highlights were the caviar on egg white which was something I’d never normally opt for. Alas, my days of solely eating lemon chicken dissolved before my eyes! The dish, presented in a martini glass, holds buttery flavours and is perfectly complimented by the acquired taste of caviar on top. Another menu pinnacle was the crispy rice with seafood in shrimp broth which housed so many experimental flavours, yet the crispy rice paved the way as the more dominant flavour. Eight courses later and we were sat back patting our bellies…
I must say, if I went again I’d opt for the peking duck which is a real Imperial Treasure staple. The duck is in fact matured for an average of 40 days and then expertly carved at the table – an occurrence that saw us distracted from our dishes at points, gazing at the goings-on.
For drinks, you’ll choose from a list curated by world-renowned wine expert Poh Tiong. We opted for a cocktail to start – I had one of the best pornstar martini’s I’ve ever had – or you can discover the finest Old and New World wines with over over 22 available by the glass, sashaying between award-winning reds from China and English sparkling varietals.
It’s a must-visit if you’re ready to spruce up your Chinese choices in a decadent venue. Find Imperial Treasure at 9 – 10 Waterloo Place, St James’s, SW1Y 4BE, www.imperialtreasure.com