At some stage Imperial Garden must have been a real hidden gem of an authentic Chinese restaurant. Complete with a stereotypical red and gold Chinese emblem at the entrance, round lazy Susan tables and a fish and lobster aquarium on the inside, it certainly looks and feels the part. Of course, there are private dining rooms too and, uniquely, an upstairs dining area for VIPs. The cigarette burns in the tablecloth of our table told me that this eatery was probably past its prime and in need of (immediate) attention. Hopefully it won’t join the two Capitol Hotel venues I sincerely miss, Savage Garden and Henry J Bean’s – both now closed.
Sheikh Mansoor had already ordered starters when we arrived. I’m assuming the empty bottle of Heineken in front of him had something to do with them including Sizzling Lamb, Steamed Broccoli and Sichuan Dry Fried Green Beans (really Mansoor?). Thankfully he also ordered actual starters like the Deep-Fried Sardines and Beef Dumplings. We were well on our way by the time Nicky and his parents arrived. Nicky added Peking Duck, Braised Eggplant, Stir Fried Noodles, Fried Rice, Sweet and Sour Chicken and Garlic Prawns to our table’s bounty. Stand outs for me were the perfectly cooked duck, superb eggplant and the sardines which were the ideal complement to our beer. The dumplings were good. The rest, to use a phrase of Nicky’s which I have only just fully understood, was very OK…which actually means – meh.
Regrettably service was very ok too. Ours was the only table occupied; so, even though there was only one waiter for the whole restaurant, he should have been able to cope. Nope. In fact, almost every time we needed something, we physically had to get up and go to this little booth beside the kitchen to look for him. Very OK indeed. Unless you MUST have an excessively expensive alcoholic drink with your food, there are plenty of excellent Asian propositions within a 1-to-5-minute WALK of this very OK restaurant, namely Tang Palace (for authentic Chinese), Mannaland (for authentic Korean literally next door) and Noodle Bowl (for authentic Malay and Singaporean).
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join his culinary journey on Instagram: @ravenousxerxes or reach out to him via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.