London Restaurants

Imperial City

Tel : 020 7626 3437 | Cornhill, EC3V 3LL | last visit : September 2005

imperial cityLet's just forget about Ken Hom's directorial role in this top table city Cantonese.  How much of a part he plays in running the place is quite frankly irrelevant.  The food and the service is exemplary, this is exactly how all restaurants in the city should be.  Smooth as silk and totally professional, the staff never put a foot wrong from the moment they greet you at the spiral starcase to the final presentation of the bill.  The room itself is set in the vaults underneath the Royal Exchange and it's been left pretty much brick bare basic with just a single ornate water feature in the entrance as a nod to oriental kitsch.  Once the menu arrives, the surroundings no longer register.  With somewhat conservative clientele round these parts, there are certain dishes whose exclusion from the menu would cause dismay and alot of empty tables.  So, many of the familiar Canton classics are here but, importantly, there's plenty of interest interspersed amongst the mundane.  A perfect example is the smoked eel fillet, a dish that appears on at least one michelin starred menu right now. 
While this version may not be quite up to that standard, it was still a treat of a starter.  After the ubiquitous crispy duck (expertly and deftly shredded at the table of course) the main dishes all add a bit to a twist to their standard fare progenitors.  So, we have venison instead of chilli beef and razor clams to replace prawn balls.  The last major differentiator is the wine list, carefully selected and pretty pricey, this is where the wallet gets a proper workout.  Somehow this place manages to extract serious sums yet still leaves you smiling and happy (if economically battered).  Imperial City really is fit for a king, or at least a king size bank balance.

Food 9/10
Service 10/10
Atmo 6/10
Vege 6/10
Alco 9/10
Total 80%