What: A top-end Chinese within an enormous Grade II-listed space in London’s St James’s. Imperial Treasure seats 140 and serves an unapologetically expensive menu of Cantonese food.
Who: Alfred Leung. His Imperial Treasure restaurant group operates 23 restaurants in Asia. Some have Michelin stars, indeed the Imperial Treasure in Shanghai has two (the group’s first European outing was billed as a “Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant” prior to launch) but its mainly Singapore-based portfolio includes casual formats too.
The vibe: Opulent. Chic French design agency Studio Liaigre have “blended a French aesthetic with British architecture and Chinese cultural references.” There are three private dining rooms each seating between 8 and 14 diners.
The food: The menu balances more creative plates with dishes that most UK-based Chinese restaurant goers will be familiar with. Luxury ingredients are prevalent: abalone, foie gras, sea cucumber and caviar feature heavily and there’s a large selection of live seafood charged at ‘seasonal’ prices including Scottish blue lobster, turbot and eel. The restaurants' signature Peking duck (matured for around 40 days and carved at table) is £100 per bird, 20% more than the likes of Duddell’s and Hakkasan and roughly the same price as Park Chinois. Set menus are relatively speaking more affordable with a vegetarian menu priced at £68 and signature set menus starting at an auspicious £88.
On the menu: Key dishes include caviar on egg white; soft shell crab with soya crumble; crispy Iberico barbecued pork belly; salt and pepper deep fried eel; and silver cod steamed with chillies. Vegetarian choices include braised spinach tofu with mushrooms; deep-fried okra with lotus root and salted egg yolk; and stir-fried lily bud with lotus root.
And another thing: Imperial Treasure is part of a flurry of internationally-owned Asian restaurants to open in the capital. Other recent entrants to the London market include Din Tai Fung, PF Chang’s and soon to launch hotpot restaurant Hai Di Lao.