Brummell recommends: Imperial Treasure

The first restaurant in Europe from the Michelin-starred Imperial Treasure group serves world-beating Cantonese cuisine in refined surroundings

Food and Drink 10 Jun 2019

Peking duck at Imperial Treasure
The bar at Imperial Treasure
Imperial Treasure's Christian-Liaigre-designed interior, photography: Ambroise Tézenas
Crispy Ibérico pork belly
Imperial Treasure's restaurants are known worldwide for their Cantonese cuisine
The dining room at Imperial Treasure, photography: Ambroise Tézenas

The background

Imperial Treasure has taken a salubrious spot in a Grade II-listed building on Waterloo Place in St James’s. It is the first European outpost of the gilded Imperial Treasure group, which has a sprinkling of Michelin stars over its 22 Asian restaurants, including two for its Shanghai outpost. The Singapore restaurant has also been a regular on the list of the World’s 50 Best Asian Restaurants. The group specialises in Chinese delicacies, with a focus on Cantonese specialities including an extensive and hard-to-resist dim sum menu.

The space

The lush Christian Liaigre interior is fittingly sumptuous with bespoke, deep leather booths, muted tones and soft lighting that at once make the extensive interior seem intimate and grand.

The bar

Imperial Treasure has a small, elegant cocktail bar at the side of the main dining room that makes arriving early for your reservation worthwhile. The cocktail list is impressively original; deftly incorporating Asian flavours and ingredients into impressive concoctions, including the refreshing Purple Empress made from vodka, lemongrass, lychee, pineapple, lime and butterfly tea (a blue flower tea that turns purple when citrus is added), and the royally delicious Queen’s Breakfast, crafted from Akashi-Tai plum sake, Saliza amaretto, jasmine tea infusion and orange bitters.

Journalist and wine expert Poh Tiong has curated the wine list, which features grand old European houses, a vast array of Champagne and a good number of interesting Chinese bottles.

The menu

The highlight of the menu for many diners is the Peking duck, served glistening and vibrant and carved in front of the table in a suitably grand style. Imperial Treasure even has a vegetarian version for non-real-duck eaters. However, the rest of the menu is certainly worth exploring and the signature set menus are definitely a good place to start getting a glimpse of the variety of delicacies Imperial Treasure has to offer.

Standout dishes include the soft and fluffy caviar on egg white, an interesting and moreish umami dish; soft-shell crab with a soy crumble is light, crisp and delicious. Deep-fried salt and pepper eel is fragrant and moreish, and the Singapore chilli prawn with mantou (chewy steamed buns) is a spicy, tangy treat. A particularly indulgent dish to absolutely not miss is the braised noodles with mushroom and truffle oil. It would be easy to eat an entire delicious bowl of these unaccompanied, but despite the strength of truffle, the noodles pair well with other dishes and add depth to any meal.

To complete the feast, the gooey steamed bun with custard is definitely recommended, while the osmanthus jelly is a light, sharp and fresh palate cleanser if you only have space for something small after what will have been quite a banquet.

The bill

The signature set menus are £88 (£138 with wine pairing per person) or £128 per person for a more luxurious selection (£198 with wine pairing).

The summary

An elevated, interesting and indulgent new restaurant, with superlative service and an extensive menu of Cantonese and pan-Chinese delicacies, that will keep crowds coming back.

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine, 9 Waterloo Place, London SW1Y 4BE;