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9 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4BE
Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick
I started the year of the pig in grand style with a visit to Imperial Treasure. Of course, if you had seen the stunning young blonde that accompanied me, you'd have thought I was celebrating the year of the old pig! Nothing of the sort! I behaved impeccably. I just ate like a pig!
This represents restaurateur Alfred Leung's first endeavour outside of Asia. The grade II listed location in St. James adds a large jewel to his gem laden crown. He has 24 restaurants and holds 4 Michelin stars.
The refurbishment has been done with style and ingenuity. Burnt wood panels roped to the existing pillars create intimate dining spaces and solve the acoustics of the vast hall. Halos provide other-worldly lighting and the yellow onyx bar is a stunner.
We began as guinea pigs for the new house cocktail. Gin, yuzu, elderflower and cucumber. A superb boozy balance of sweet and sour. Glad I didn't get the placebo.
The menu is extensive. Luckily, I was invited to review the signature set menu for £88 or I might still be deciding what to have!
We began with a trio of crispy lobster roll, golden okra and fois gras with bean curd. To my surprise, the okra stole the show! Whereas lobster egg roll with chilli sauce seemed the height of decadence and tofu offered little textural contrast to the pâté de fois gras, the okra was inspired. Beautifully battered and light as air, it just melted in my mouth with none of its natural viscosity.
Soft shell crab had a savory crunch from delectable soya crumble and stir fried king prawns, cooked to perfection they were served with an excellent sweet, sour chilli sauce.
The almond crust on corn fed chicken was so delicate, it resembled panko, but had a lovely, sweet, brown, nutty flavor.
3 bites of beef tenderloin topped with a sliver of crispy garlic were tender and tasty. Served medium, I would have preferred the quality, fat-free meat rare.
In the west we tend to end our meals with protein rich dishes. Here it was, quite happily, the opposite. Poached Chinese cabbage in chicken broth was a highlight of the evening; the elegant soup made velvety smooth with the addition of milk. The meal ended on a note of sheer simplicity with braised noodles, mushrooms and truffle oil. From guinea pig to truffle pig!
The sommelier paired our wines for us. An English Coates & Seely NV brut rosé (£14), a 2018 New Zealand Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc (£11) and a French 2015 Domaine Michel Noellat et Fils Pinot Noir (£11). Sadly, nothing to write about here.
For dessert, a cube of osmanthus (oolong tea) jelly did nothing for my sweet tooth, but a sesame ball did. A small sphere of seed crusted dough oozed a lovely custard filling like a fondant.
I'm enjoying the year of the pig while I can. 2020 is the year of the rat!