Nestled in the Grosvenor Hotel in Victoria, the Grand Imperial offers one of the most authentic dim sum experiences you can have in London.
From the more traditional dim sum, such as steamed rice rolls with prawn or barbecued pork filling (cheung fun), to the more innovative fusion creations such as duck with truffle-sauce dumplings and deep-fried seafood curry rolls, one can enjoy the taste and presentation in each dish.
The service is usually attentive and courteous, although the restaurant can get quite busy on weekends. The waiting staff here have a good knowledge of the menu, something not to be taken for granted in other upscale Chinese restaurants in London.
One often equates authentic dim sum with the traditional settings in Chinatown. Praised by the Michelin Guide for its “good cooking,” here you can find a classy dining environment, where standards of Chinese cuisine are a notch higher. Despite its slightly daunting high ceiling, plush carpet and chandeliers, prices for lunch are affordable, with most dim sum dishes offered at £4 (US$5.50) each.
Moreover, the menu is thoughtfully prepared, featuring a range of crispy, deep-fried dim sum, which seems to have been adapted to make authentic Chinese food more appealing to the Londoner’s palate. For example, the seafood curry rolls – with its crispy pastry and a generous, textured seafood filling – are definitely worth a try.
Being Chinese, I find great delight in their classic creations such as the Shanghai Xiaolongbao (steamed pork dumplings in soup). Made fresh to order, with a delicate meat broth wrapped inside tender, translucent dumpling skin, and served with the traditional Chinese dark vinegar with julienned ginger, the dumplings are some of the few outstanding ones I have had in London.
For those looking for a more substantial meal, there are plenty of traditional main courses and sharer dishes to choose from: from Ma Po tofu, sautéed chicken with sweet basil, chili and spring onion (also known as “chicken cooked with three cups of wine”), stir-fry French beans with minced pork, even poached spinach with assorted eggs, just to name a few.
The tea selection also reflects the importance of tea in Chinese dining. From the mild, floral scent of jasmine, to the more bitter taste of traditional Pu-er, ideal to complement dishes of stronger taste, one is really spoilt for choice. Or, for a lighter delicate texture, Osmanthus is a great choice too.
For a bargain, check out the pre-theater menu (£16-£25 for a two- or three-course meal between 5:30-7pm and 9-10:15pm) with mains ranging from sautéed king prawn with Szechuan sauce, or stir-fried lamb slices with garlic, and served with a glass of wine or Prosecco.
Finally, the desserts do not disappoint. The ginger tea with glutinous rice balls, for example, is a pleasant if mild adaptation of the Chinese classic, with just a touch of ginger. The mini egg tarts boast a light, fluffy pastry case that can be found only in the best of the Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong.
So, now you know where to go next to satisfy your dim sum craving.
Grand Imperial London – 101 Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria London SW1W 0SJ
Tel: 020 7821 8898 Monday-Sunday 12 noon-3pm, 5:30pm-11pm (last order 2:30pm and 10:30pm respectively).