Imperial China – Review (Teddington) Dim Sum in the suburbs

Guilty as charged, I’m in the burbs again in Teddington which is also known as the arse-end of no-town for any London dining fan. But look, to be an enthusiast you have to go where the food is at no matter what part of the country or world for that matter. Specifically, I’m here for the dim sum which you’d probably associate the West End for but via recommendation from a local friend he’d suggest I should come here. There tonnes of garish black marble, Chinese ornaments, gold and white table clothes and of course a fish tank – I feel right at home! For the purposes of geeking out on this post I will aim to give a comparative view on 3 of my visits.

Dec 2011 visit

Char siu pork. Moist, meaty and with some good flavour. You can tell this piece of tenderloin was marbled. Not a memorable plate but it was ok.

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Thai style chickens feet. Served cold, it comes boneless and crunchy, pickled in vinegar & chilli as are the carrots and radish. There is a bucker load of flavour in this one.

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Kai larn stir fried with garlic. Tender, bitter and sweet. With all that rich dim sum you have to balanced things out with this plate.

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Vietnamese spring rolls. They are some of the best I’ve had, crisp, piping hot and comes with a robust minced prawn, pork and wood ear mushroom filling.

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Har Gau. Four beautiful little har gua, translucent skin and well seasoned minced prawn filling. Simple yet effective, it’s done good here.

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Chiu Chow Fun Gor. Textually elastic skins with the most freshest, sweet savoury filling. I could taste white pepper, white radish, carrots, dried shrimps, minced pork, chopped chives and a whisper of 5 spice. They are my favourite!

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Prawn and Chive dumplings – translucent skins and filling that packs a flavour punch. It’s fresh tasting and moreish in every bite.

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Prawn cheung fun – silken skin, juicy and crunchy prawns in that seasoned soy.

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Yam croquettes – fresh & crispy, tonnes of yam flavour and comes with a rich, brilliantly seasoned filling.

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Pan fried chive dumpling – comes with a thicker pastry that it’s steamed counter part and possibly not as tasty but good nonetheless.

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Char siu bao – steamed fluffy clouds with generously flavoured char siu. The round ones are the egg custard buns which were equally as gratifying to eat. Just look at that yolk!

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Just look at that egg yolk custard!

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Siu mai – a dim sum classic and they are juicy, succulent and seasoned perfectly.

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Xiaolongbao – look at those plump dumplings filled with soup!

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Si chow ngao yuk – steamed beef balls on a bed of watercress. Gorgeous and beefy, you could really taste the orange peel too which gave it that extra dimension.

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Malaysian steamed sponge cake. Soft, light and enriched with that brown sugar – they come out piping hot just like the rest.

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Burncurd skin rolls – one of my personal favourites. Inside the skins you have long slithers of bean shoots, shitake mushrooms, pork and prawns. Mouth-watering and delectable – there is so much flavour in them.

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Chicken feet with black beans and chilli. Some are freaked out by the mere concept of chicken feet but other nations around the world have been eating them for centuries as they are actually really tasty, especially these ones which have taken on all the flavour of the spices and soy. The skin and cartilage dissolves in your mouth –  conquer the mental hurdle and get involved!

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Cheung fun with dough sticks. On point with the seasoned soy and crispy fresh dough inside the soft cheung fun pastry.

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Visit in August 2012.

Thai style chicken’s feet – just as good as the Dec 2011 visit.

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Braised oxtail – this was mouth-watering, rich, unctuous and enriched with a combination of spices indicative of Chinese cooking .

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Chiu Chow Fun Gor – Just look at that translucent skin bursting at the seams full of filling and flavour.

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Malaysian steamed sponge – I couldn’t take a picture fast enough!

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Chickens feet – drenched in flavour, just like how they should be.

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Some yam croquettes and fried radish cake.

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Steamed pork rib with black bean. Not the fall of the bone tender variety so skilful gnawing required for the best effects.

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Beancurd skin rolls – just as delicious as before.

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March 2016 visit

It’s the only way to order your dim sum in my humble opinion.

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The beef dishes are well worth checking out such as the oxtail and brisket.

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As are the vegetables:

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Condiments – to the right you have the Vietnamese nuoc cham dipping sauce for the Vietnamese spring rolls, Worcestershire sauce for the Si Choi Ngao Yuk (beef meatballs) and finally the chilli oil & sauce.

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Roast pork puff £3.30 (for 3). Flaky rich pastry with sweet char siu pork filling. Quite delicious but more filling is required.

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Baked egg tarts £3.30 (for 3). Silky creamy egg filling with a butter rich puff pastry – naughty and nice.

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Deep fried won tons with sweet and sour sauce £3.30. This one is good for the novice.

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Yam croquettes £3.30 (for 3). They have stayed consistent in taste after all this time, although they have shrunk a bit, that includes the filling too.

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Thai stye chicken claws £5.50. Crunchy and fresh tasting, albeit a tad sweeter this time – my preference is the former style.

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Beef cheung fun £3.80. If you’re a lover of cheung is will quench your thirst for the stuff, the beef was a riot of flavour inside that silken rice wrapper. It was probably the the dish of the day.

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Plain cheung fun with spring onions £3.30 – it would be silly not to make use of that silken cheung fun in whichever way possible for human consumption!

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Deep fried spring rolls Vietnamese style £3.80 (for 3). These were a let down, totally insipid and a huge disparity in taste in comparison to my previous visits.

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Grilled Japanese chive dumpling – avoid this uninteresting one, it fell into the bland pile.

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Chiu chow fun gor (steamed dumplings Chiu Chow style) £3.30. Fresh tasting but somehow not as memorable on the taste buds as my previous visits. Still good though.

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Prawn & chive dumpling £3.80. You can’t mess with the originals and it’s hard to stop eating these delicious dim sum until they’re gone!

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Steamed mini glutinous rice dumplings £3.80. Sticky rice seasoned with soy with clubs of shitake mushrooms, chicken, mince pork and chinese sausage – come on what’s there not to like about? They were pretty good.

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Steamed mince beef balls £3.80 – 3 little balls of deliciousness hustled up on a bed of watercress. Totally on point.

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Har gau £3.80 – not a bad dim sum but the plump-ness and flavour profile changed this time round. The game needs to be stepped up on these.

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Spicy chickens claws in black bean sauce £3.5 – theres no elegant way in eating these as you have to professional gnaw into these and spit the bones out after. It’s a shame they not drenched in flavour like my previous visits.

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Steamed Malaysian sponge cake £3.30. Just as good as the last time.

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Egg yolk buns £3.30 – still good but not as creamy and eggy this time round.

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Lotus paste buns £3.30 – look at the gooey nutty filling inside of that cloud!

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Kai lan or Chinese broccoli £8.80. Eating your greens is a must kids, don’t go without them.

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Sautèed spicy “Tung Choy” (morning glory) with shredded chillies £10. Cooked with fermented bean curd which gives it a deep savoury/salty flavour.

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Sautèed spicy “Tung Choy” (morning glory) Malaysian style £10. Cooked with Malaysian shrimp paste – there’s a good fermented funk going on.

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Beef brisket hot pot £10.30. Order this melting of rich beefy goodness or you will miss out.

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The verdict:
When did I go? December 2011/August 2012/March 2016
The damage: £15-£25 per head for dim sum.
The good: This is the perfect place to dim sum when you’re in the arse end of no-town, but I tell you what it’s pretty good and well priced. The beef cheung fun and chive dumplings are a must as are the brisket/ox-tail hotspots.
The bad: After several rolls of the dice I’ve been quite impressed with this restaurant. However, from my last visit they seemed to have lost their way on some of the dishes. Perhaps the chef has changed or I caught them on a bad day? If they can iron-out the inconsistencies then this place is will move from good to great in my humble opinion.
Rating: 3/5
Address: 196-198 Stanley Rd, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 8UE
Phone: 020 8977 8679
http://www.imperialchinalondon.co.uk
Closest tube/train station: Teddington

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