Sunday, 12 September 2010

Imperial China - Dim Sum in the Suburbs

I'm keeping this post short and sweet. Besides, I'm not sure you want to read about the 18 different varieties of dim sum that we ordered (nearly half the dim sum menu!). In case you're wondering, I sampled a mere 13 of these dishes.

Imperial China (唐朝) in Teddington is proper old school and has everything I look for in a dim sum restaurant. However, I can't take the credit for unearthing this hidden gem, as it was my sister who suggested coming here for a family get-together. We reserved a table for 11.30am, as this was the only slot available for a busy Sunday. The dining room was near empty on our arrival but by the time we left, the restaurant was full and there was a queue.

It wasn't surprising that it was busy, as the food at this unassuming suburban restaurant is of a very high standard. The dim sum is freshly made with a light hand at the steamer and the fryer. Some of the highlights included:

蜜汁叉燒包 cha siu baoRoasted pork buns (£2.30)
鮮竹牛肉球 ngau yuk kauSteamed minced beef balls (£2.30)
蜂巢荔芋角 wu gokYam croquettes with pork (£2.50)
鬼馬炸兩 zhaliangDeep fried dough cheung fun (£2.80)
擂沙湯丸 lei sha tong yuanSesame paste in peanut crumbs (£2.80)

There's a lot to like about Imperial China with its quality food, good service, wallet friendliness, and warm family atmosphere. Compared to dim sum joints in London, I prefer it to Camden's much-lauded Yum Cha and its streets ahead of anything Chinatown can offer. In fact I'd go so far to bracket it alongside Pearl Liang and Phoenix Palace as my 'go-to' dim sum restaurants.

I know Teddington might as well be on Mars for some but if you don't live too far away then I highly recommend making the trek to Zone 6. Don't just take my word for it, Ma and Pa Noodles loved Imperial China and their opinion counts for a lot.

Imperial China on Urbanspoon

Imperial China, 196-198 Stanley Road, Teddington TW11 8UE (Tel: 020-8977-8679)
Nearest rail: Fulwell (trains from Waterloo)

PS: To the best of my knowledge, this restaurant ISN'T related to the Chinatown restaurant of the same name.


  1. Pal of mine was raving about Imperial China and insist that I drop by. Not too possible for me these days unfortunately. I'm not too sure whether Yum Cha is that good. To me it's more like a cheap dim sum place if you are having a craving.

  2. LChow - we are talking about the same Imperial China? The one in Teddington? It's just that I'm surprised that you hold such strong opinions about this restaurant that is so outer London, it's virtually in Surrey.

    Whilst inexpensive, I can't agree with your comment that "it's more like a cheap dim sum place if you are having a craving".

  3. Wow in the same bracket as Pearl Liang but with cheap prices -sounds like I should visit!

  4. Looks like a good yum cha place judging from the few dishes that you listed out. I had a wonderful yum cha over the weekend too!

  5. I have to say that I still don't see how Pearl Liang and Phoenix Palace are in the same bracket. PL always serves a great meal, whether dim sum or dinner. Phoenix Palace is up-and-down - the best I can say about it is that the dim sum is OK (as on my last visit in April 2010), whereas the last dinner I had there (over a year ago) was really poor.

    Maybe Phoenix Palace really likes you and treats you extra special? Or they really hate me? : )

  6. GC - I'd say the food is better at Pearl Liang but I preferred dining at Imperial China, as it had more of that 'yum cha' atmosphere if you know what I mean. The only problem is how far away Teddington is for most people. It's a bit of a drag to get to, even if like me, you live on the same side of town.

    3HT - it was a fine feast. I never expected such excellent dim sum in the leafy suburbs! That said, I'm not sure how it'd measure up to the amazing yum cha restaurants of Melbourne.

    A-in-L - it's a shame that you've had mixed experiences at Phoenix Palace and I know you're not the only one! By the same token, there's fair few of us PP fans out there. I've not eaten as often at Pearl Liang but when I have, I agree the food is great but IMHO, the dining room lacks soul. I think we have to agree to disagree but that's no bad thing, as wouldn't the world be boring if we all settled on a dull consensus?

    I'll be interested in what you think of Imperial China although I appreciate it's a hell of a trek for you to get to Teddington.

  7. LChow - I think I may have misinterpreted your comment. A friend of mine has pointed out that I may have confused Yum Cha, the Camden restaurant with 'yum cha', the verb meaning to go to eat dim sum, in your comment. Sorry if this is the case!

    Anyway, I see where you're coming from in respect of Yum Cha in Camden. It's OK but I'm not sure what the fuss is about.

  8. Hurrah, zone 6! For those who are wavering over whether Teddington is worth the trip, there's also a good cheese shop, and a few good pubs (I can personally recommend The Adelaide and The Builders Arms.

    Re Yum Cha in Camden, I've only been once, but I thought some of the things (prawn cheung fun, xiao long bao, fried turnip paste) were among the best I've had in London, while others (siu mai) were only average. Actually... I've only just realised that the things I liked there were the things that you can't really buy in frozen, so perhaps the reason I was impressed is that other places in London generally do these things badly, rather than Yum Cha being objectively good.

  9. Kake - thanks for the Teddington tips. At this rate, it'll be the new Hoxton. Or perhaps not.

    I was indifferent to Yum Cha in Camden. To put it another way, I really couldn't be bothered to blog about it, as it was neither that bad nor was anything that good.

  10. Oh nice, we biked by there about a month ago...we must go forth and find this place!

  11. Su-Lin - dim sum will be a worthy reward after a bike ride! I'll be interested in what you think about this place.

  12. @Mr Noodles,
    I was actually referring to Camden's Yum Cha. Other that its egg tarts, the dim sum that I had over there was average at best.

    I think I might have mistaken the Imperial China in your post with the one along Chinatown's Lisle Street. Strange, this post is linked to the Lisle Street restaurant on Urbanspoon. Anyway, happy new year!

  13. LChow - Happy New Year! Something weird has happened on Urbanspoon where their review page of the Chinatown Imperial China is (erroneously) linked to this review. However, this review is also linked to the Teddington Imperial China, as intended, on Urbanspoon. Anyway - agreed on Camden's Yum Cha.

  14. I'm going here tomorrow on the back of this review. Do you remember if they do the soup dumplings xaio long bao? The online menu isn't specific...
    Happily, Teddington is only a short bus ride away for me, in what is obviously for you, the other side of the world! I'm in Surbiton, which ain't that far! I can get to Soho in less than thirty mins. Having said that, I can't think of anywhere else in the area to eat noodles. Although there is a great French restaurant worth visiting!
    There was a fab tea house in Twickenham that did great dim sum, but sadly it has closed down, so thank you for bringing this place to my attention.

  15. B&B - I can't remember if XLB are served here. But to be honest, XLB can often be a disappointment in most dim sum joints in London.