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Feb 26, 2011 09:55 AM

Grand Imperial Review [London]

Here is my review of this restaurant after having a dim sum lunch here today.

-The room-
Located right outside Victoria tube station in the Grosvenor Hotel, upon entering, the room immediately impresses with high ceilings and a tasteful decoration. It was rather quiet with only a few occupied tables which immediately put a bit of doubt in my mind on the quality of the food. How wrong I was.

-The food-
The dim sum portion of the menu occupies the last three pages and there is a somewhat select number of choices available.

Right from the get go my lips were given a real treat. The fried turnip cake was tasty and fragrant followed by the black cod dumplings and the chive and prawn dumplings. To sum up all the dumplings, the skins were light and thin and the fillings were extremely flavoursome. I ordered the usual siu mai, bbq pork buns, bbq pork cheung fun, pork ribs, egg tarts which were all done to a very high standard. The roast duck was good but nothing special. The preserved egg and pork congee was somewhat average as well.

The stand out dishes that I had were the dumpling in soup and the foie gras and beef dumpling. At £5.50 a pop for the dumping in soup, the broth was rich and the dumpling filled with a myriad of goodness. The foie gras and beef dumpling (more like a pan fried gyoza) was juicy and rich with a crispy skin.

-The servce-
My waiter Alex was fantastic. He was pleasant and knowledgable, entertaining all my questions about the restaurant and the chef. He also advised me that there was a top table offer coming up next month which I would highly recommend.

-The bill-
At £99 for 3 people it was a bit on the pricey end but I may have gone a bit overboard on the amount of food ordered which meant I had to doggy bag some of the food! The portion of duck was quite overpriced at £20 but as for the overall experience, I felt it was worth every penny. Set in the same arena in terms of price range and level of cuisine to Min Jiang and Royal China Club, I felt Grand Imperial was heads above. It was a truly delightful experience and I will be back as soon as I book my toptable offer!

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  1. Great - thanks for the report; have to try soon!

    Re: Min Jiang, went recently found that they no longer have the Shanghai style shumai, which used to be one of the standout items. XLB were still very good, but maybe a shade less delicate than before. Wondering if their Shanghainese specialist left. Still very pleased with the refined quality of the crab dumpling skins, chewy, thin translucent. However, the new (to me) pandan chicken was on the bland side.

    1. They now serve a dim sum "buffet" where one gets to order from nearly the entire dim sum menu (except for a couple of the more expensive items like the lobster dumplings and the chocolate dim sum section). It's not a bad deal at £16ish (weekdays) or £18ish.

      The dim sum I had were very competently made, but felt good not great. Skins on various dumplings, such as the har gau, were nice and chewy, but on the thick side. Favourite was the steamed black cod dumpling, which had a delicious and flavourful filling. Har gau were ok, still anice snap from the prawns within.

      The crab xlb were poorly made, somewhat lumpy in appearance, the folds of the rather thick and bready skins mashed into a thick lump; probably not recognisable as a xlb if not for what the menu said it was supposed to be. Filling was nice, with a pretty good light pork flavour, and some crab, but wished for a bit more broth.

      The beef and foie gras dumplings tasted slightly sweetish within, but hard to detect the smoky foie gras flavour. Skins were a little dense.

      The cha siu filling the in the rice sheets/cheung fun were somewhat generic, and the rice sheets thems while nicely chewy and slippery, were on the thick side.

      Egg tarts had puffed up pastry bases and were good renditions.

      Excellent medium/heavy roasted tieguanyin, nutty and elegant. Probably one of the best teas I've had in a restaurant in a while.

      I think it's a fairly nice place for dim sum, and the room is lovely, but am sorry to give a downhill update. And I don't think the dumpling in soup is on the menu any more.

      4 Replies
      1. re: limster

        If someone wanted a really good dim sum experience, would you recommend Min Jiang instead or somewhere else?

        1. re: zuriga1

          Haven't been to Min Jiang in a while, and my last meal there while good, wasn't as good as before, but so far that's the best experience for me. Should probably try a whole bunch of other places again, as it has been a long time since I've gone for dim sum.

        2. re: limster

          Limster -

          Just went to Grand Imperial for dim sum lunch yesterday. I thought it was, in short, good not great. The fried items weren't as good, but I was generally impressed with the shrimp dumplings and the siu mai. The thought the skin of the shrimp dumplings was firm yet very thin and the filling was excellent. Similar thoughts of the siu mai. The turnip cake was actually one of the best I've had before -- not greasy and not too soft nor hard. I had an an order of the stir-fried pea shoots, which managed to be flavorful but not greasy - only complaint that the pea shoots didn't taste as fresh as I'd like. Thought the rice sheets were OK, fairly generic like you said. No buffet and no dumplings in soup, like you said. I was satisfied but not blown away.

          1. re: Will125

            Many thanks for the update, I had another similar experience a few months ago. I wish I had acted upon jonY's tip earlier, but there's always a big backlog of places to try.

        3. Got a tip from some friends -- great dim sum from a new chef there.

          Steamed dumplings have delicate translucent skins with just the right balance of soft, chewy and firm textures. Fillings where good and flavoursome -- fish lifted with aromatic saffron, or a vegetarian filling with earthy umami.

          Turnip cake stir fried with XO sauce is more elegant than most -- a crisp surface that gives way to a very soft and fluffy interior in each bite-sized piece. Contrasting textures from crunch of bean sprouts, green onion and soft egg,

          Rice sheets filled with char siu/rpast pork were competently made, the texture perfect, but could be slightly warmer.

          A nest of shredded filo provided a lovely crunchy contrast to the fish within.

          Delicate eggy custard tarts with equally delicate multilayered crusts.

          Good tea -- a balanced tieguanyin (this version had a woodsy darker roast as opposed to the greener floral Anxi style).

          Most dim sum items were ~£3.50 - £5, good value for the high quality.