Sunday, February 12, 2012

Imperial Kingdom, Glen Waverley by Bureaucrat

A few weeks ago, it was Mother Hen's birthday. To celebrate, we had dinner at Imperial Kingdom.

IK has been around for at least 25 years. Growing up, we used to go there only very occassionally - back then, we tended to go to New Royal Garden, which was down the road from IK, or Dragon Boat, which was near Knox City shopping centre. For me, it's been about 4-5 years since I ate there.

In terms of looks, IK hasn't had been renovated or spruced up since it first opened for business. Inside, it's still decked out in peach coloured paint, peach chairs, and a layer of dust on the faux pot plants. From the outside, it's not much to look at - a big car park, a bit of graffiti, surrounded by crumbling brickwork, dead plants and weeds, blistered peach coloured paint, and a neon sign that has seen better days.

I'm not sure what to think of this place - IK is really a bit of puzzle to me, as I'll explain later.

On Mother Hen's birthday, the food was better than I had remembered, or expected.

For starters, we had the complimentary soup.

And we got quite a few mains. The first was stir fried prawns with silken Japanese tofu and veg. Plenty of prawns, and lovely tofu. Japanese tofu is the only tofu I eat - I love the egg casing and the creamy inside without a hint of the bland tofu that you normally get from a health food store. The veg were fresh and al dente.

Sizzling steak with capsicum and onion sauce. Although the steak was a little chewy, it was still quite nice flavours.

Salt and pepper calamari. A decent serving. Even though it doesn't look it, the batter wasn't that oily and quite light. Calamari was very tender.

Seafood combination fried noodles. Crunchy noodles and not too oily. Lots of seafood - scallops, squid, prawns, fish and fishcakes.

Mixed mushrooms stir fried with snow pea leaves. We all liked this one. Plenty of snow pea leaves, which were all tender and not at all stringy. Lots of mushrooms, including enoki, fresh shiitake and a few other mushrooms (but I don't know what they're called in English).

Whole chicken stuffed with prawn meat. Beaker had has this before and recommended us to try it. It's a de-boned chicken, that's deep fried and stuffed with prawn meat.

It's got roasted sesame on the skin and is served with a sweetish sauce (I think it was plum sauce). It's different and tasted pretty good.

Sweet and sour pork. This was better than I had expected. A thin batter, lean pork, and a well-balanced sweet/sour flavour. And it wasn't as oily as you'd expect.

Complimentary red bean sweet soup for dessert. I've never been a fan of red bean soup. But from what I could see, this was a pretty good soup - good amount of red beans (unlike some restaurants where they water down the sweet soup and has only bits of red bean floating around in it). We also got a small plate of sliced oranges.

For the dinner, all the dishes were really nice - plenty of 'wok hei' and fresh ingredients. Every dish was very tast. Nothing was too oily or salty. Foodwise, it was pretty good overall.

Service wise, it was kinda average. Our waitress was very clueless and needed a lot of prompting. For the whole night, it was like she was off with the fairies. The other staff seemed more responsive and alert.

However, I think what we experienced that night at Mother Hen's birthday was just a stroke of good luck.

Today, Mother Hen, Mr Strong and I went to IK for yum cha. Mother Hen wanted to go there as she notices that IK looks packed out everytime she drives past it. The food and service this time was below average.

The place was nearly at full capacity - with an even mix of Asians and Westerners. The yum cha food was really not great. Overly oily and, my god, completely full of MSG. After the first bite from the first dish we ordered, my tongue was tingling from the MSG.

For the three of us, we only had four dishes. There just wasn't anything that looked good to order (everything either looked oily or just plain unappetising). We left after an hour. We gave up waiting for the steamed dumplings and buns to come out. Mostly the food were deep fried stuff.

The service was poor. Although it wasn't the most cramped layout, I kept getting trolleys bumping into the back of my chair. Also, the waiters/waitresses either:

- shoved the trolley at you without bothering to tell you what was on offer (we had to keep propmting them).
- and if you did prompt them, they'd bark out the names of the dishes. And even then, they'd just tell you the name of one of the dishes, and you had to prompt them to tell you what else is on offer on their trolley.

The yum cha experience was bizarre. IK is certainly popular, but the food and service was crap!

Food - 8 (for dinner. For yum cha it's 5)
Ambience - 6
Service - 6.5
Price - 7 (for dinner. For yum cha it's 5)

I'd say for their dinner a la carte menu, the food is quite good (no msg, or very little msg) and decent serves (even with the Lawyer and Mr P, we had left overs to take home). If asked, I'd recommend that you try IK for dinner.

However, I would recommend that you don't bother going to IK for yum cha. It's not like there's a lack of options around Glen Waverley. Save your money and calorie intake for something much better.

Imperial Kingdom
546-554 Waverley Road
Glen Waverley 3150
Telephone: 9802 6787

Imperial Kingdom Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Try Wealth Garden in Doncaster - not bad and service is quite respectful

Bureaucrat said...

Thanks for the tip, Anon. I haven't heard of Wealth Garden before.

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