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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bites: Imperial Court @ Como

Sometimes, after seeing a few reviews, I thought I know what my favourite dish would be when I visited a restaurant.  But just when you thought so, be prepared to expect the unexpected.  Walking in here I noticed that the man managing the whole place actually owns the HK Tea Cafe along James St. unless I saw wrongly. At 11.30 in the morning, we were quickly greeted by the lady who manages the place.  I’d reckon this is the perfect time for a yam cha session minus the crowd :)!
First up!  Har Gou/Prawn Dumpling!
While most places do not fail in taste and fresh prawns, most of them never succeed in cooking the dumplings properly.  Unlike most places, these were fresh and the skin did not tear while being picked with my chopsticks.  Definitely no overcooking for this one!

Darling’s favourite Pork and Century Egg porridge was also nice.  A lot better than the one’s we have had at Golden Century and Dragon Palace, but nowhere near the ones we had in Hong Kong!  While this was not blend, I think the eggy taste from the salted and century egg really help the porridge in Hong Kong shine!

The Siew Mai were also delicious here.  I like the additional touch of dried scallops.  Not much taste but a sign of generosity!  It was nice and perfectly cooked once again! But was this mind blowing? Hmm not really that but it was nice!
The rave all over has been with the pork dumplings in a delicious fish broth.  With much admiration, the fish broth was a genius idea.  These juicy Shanghai dumplings had an almost perfect mince which packed a juicy bite with a hot warm soup in there.  The very subtle flavour of the broth toned the flavours nicely!   There was a near perfect balance here.  Comparing my previous experience in Perth, the one in Xin Tian Di, Golden Century and most places have never really satisfied my cravings for Shanghai dumpling!  It is now good that the little darling’s favourite in Dragon Palace now have a nearer alternative!   However though, the skin was slightly, very slightly undercooked.  At most 30 more seconds in the steamer!

The next dish was a new and interesting addition to add to my culinary list!
Imperial Court’s Teochew style dumplings with black sesame.  This was a good one as well.  Even the lady manager said this was yums! The texture was a slightly chewy skin an a tasty filling of meat, vegetables and black sesame.  I felt like perhaps a little more filling would be good but this is a nice eat!  While I have eaten a typical Teochew style dumpling, never have I had one with black sesame.

The chilli pepper squid was tasty but  fishman found it a little salty.  Also, despite hitting all the right notes in terms of taste a little bit more fiery would have been much appreciated! And of course, it needs to be more crunchy too! It was a little chewy when it reached my table!

These little radish cake here again felt like a hit and miss.  It had the right recipe for the perfect radish cake.  The little bit of meat, a mixture of both well blended radish as well as bite size pieces, but it all came crashing down when it felt a little too mushy! But then again, perhaps because this was steamed.  Next time around, pan fried!

In recent years, chicken feet has became a staple at my yum cha sessions!  I often look forward to a rich slightly sticky sauce and when it comes out my mouth, it comes out clean.  At Imperial Palace, I felt that the sauce was slightly runny but what it lacked in taste, it made up for it in terms of cooking.  Very well cooked. For the flavours, I would have like something richer, more savoury a little more salt and sweetness from the a reduced sauce is definitely the way to go.

The rice roll with barbecue pork and coriander was another deceptive dish.  The top roll was the best cooked one out of the lot.  It was perfectly rolled out, thin and delicate.  When it came to the bottom two, it did not live up to the expectations of the first.  We were back to square one with the rice roll slightly thicker than what I like.  But then again, this seems to be an issue which have plagued dim sum places all over the city!  If it wasn’t this time, it would be the next and it happens over and over again.

The last dish is my typical way of finishing my meal at a yam cha place.  And for me, Imperial Court made this ending as sweet as it could have been! I was gobsmacked.
Your typical egg tarts! Just moments ago, we were complaining of the deteriorating service over the course of an hour heading into their peak at 12.20pm.  Almost then we thought we might do without the egg tarts! Luckily we did not do so.  These golden beauties came out looking too thick on the pastry but gosh I was wrong. One bite and it was heavenly.  To some, the runny hot custard in the middle might be a little undercooked but god that transition of consistency from the crunchy outside to a jelly-like inside with a nirvana runny centre was too good to resist.  Seriously wow for me.  Perhaps that is too much a praise for an egg tart.  But for a person who loves his egg tarts, this was kickass.

Overall, my experience at Imperial Court was pleasant.  Starting with some of the best har gao and siew mai in town and not to mention a really delicious Shanghai dumpling, what can I say?  Even the deteriorating service was forgotten with that sweet ending of a really top quality egg tart.  Was this a once off that the selected few dishes were shining ever so brightly? I can never say the answer but when you pay them a visit, you will know.  So when will you be heading there for a try? Because I know I will be! Soon! At the very least, for a confirmation :P!

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