Finding good dim sum at Imperial Court Beijing and Szechuan Cuisine in Richmond
We went to the Imperial Court Restaurant for breakfast more than two months ago. Although we know of Imperial Court, we had never been inside simply because it looked expensive from the outside. To us, it is expensive when they have “captains” (chief waiters) in black vests, tablecloths, and expensive chairs.
It sure does look like an above average Chinese restaurant, don't you think? Well, it does to us. Because of our limited use of the Chinese language, we are somewhat intimidated and uneasy in these kind of places.
As usual, the boys asked for water (they don't like Chinese tea). Even then the water came in a nice looking glass. We like little touches like this.
We went to the Imperial Court only because of the ad they put up in the Richmond area papers. They had special discounts then for dim sum between 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. I don't think they have the discounts now. So don't just go there now and say that chowtimes said they are suppose to give 25% discounts for dim sum, okay?
Back then they had a Peking Duck special for just $10.80. Anyone have any idea how much would a whole duck normally cost? The last time we had Peking Duck was ... oh ... 12 years ago in HK!!
The Imperial Court is located in the strip mall right across from Richmond Center on No 3 Road. Their address is #6-6360 on No 3.
This is not a push-cart dim sum place. You place your order on the order form. We prefer push cart types as we can see what it is we are ordering. It is hard for us trying to figure out the English descriptions. Most of the dim sums are below $3, which is inexpensive for a place like this. Their most expensive ones are those with shrimps which even that is below $5.
For this post, I would like to get the reactions from the nonChinese readers. You see, I have often brought my nonChinese friends to dim sum, but more often than not, I get a lot of reactions to the food—mostly of uncertainty over the content of it. Here goes ... my impressions of nonChineses' impression of dim sum.
Siew Mai ($2.96), I find is the one that is a favourite among non-Chinese. Anything that has lots of meat (especially beef and pork) is a favourite to nonChinese. But I sometimes forgot to explain what the orangey stuff is on the top!
Deep Fried Roll ($2.96) is another favourite with nonChinese. Maybe it is because of the easy-to-remember name and that it is quite westernised by now. We would not have ordered this if not for Arkensen wanted this.
Steamed Shrimp Dumpling ($2.96) is also a common dim sum choice that I notice nonChinese gobble down very fast! Normally, the Chinese would just order one serving of this, but when I am with my nonChinese friends, we end up ordering more.
The looks of the thing above puts off a lot of my nonChinese friends. I guess they must be thinking ... now ... why would anyone wrap their food with a rotten piece of leaf?!? Many of these friends, does not touch it ... not even with their chopsticks.
The lotus leaf warp aside, they are great. In it is sticky rice ($4.50) ... if they served it unwrapped, it looks a lot more appetizing. I also think that to nonChinese, aside from sushi, rice are not supposed to be sticky ... i.e. sticky is yucky.
But frankly, to the Chinese, it is low-class sticky rice if it is not wrapped in lotus leaf. The lotus leaf actually imparts some flavour to the rice.
I get mixed reaction from Steam Rice Roll. The one above is with shrimp ($4.50), which is acceptable to most nonChinese because, well, they can see the shrimp in it. But I don't think it is a favourite because it is tasteless besides the shrimp. But that is not the point ... you must have this with the soya sauce.
I once was asked ... then why they not pour the soya sauce in it before it is served. My answer? “Just because ...”
The one above is also Steam Rice Roll but with Pork Liver ($2.96). It looks like beef at a glance. If I tell my friends it is beef, they will eat it but would probably have thought that the texture was kind of ... different. But when I let them know it is pork liver ... eeww.
The Baked B.B.Q Pork Bun ($2.96) from the Imperial Court is quite unique. It is extremely glossy and also really beautiful if you ask me. They apply a thick layer of syrup on the bun and make it very very sticky. This one you must try in Imperial Court. I always describe this as the Chinese version of burgers.
The Spicy Shrimp Dumpling ($4.50) is not the normal dim sum dish, I believe. I think they have this because of their Szechuan background. Dim Sum are from south China (HK mostly) and are somewhat bland in taste. So, having such strong spicy dim sum is a good idea. I don't think many nonChinese would appreciate this because of the spiciness.
The Beef Ribs with Garlic ($2.96) was quite okay. This would have been great with steam rice.
The Imperial Court have other choices too other than dim sum, but they only serve this in late mornings. Looking at the prices, they are quite okay ... just a tad more higher than other Chinese restaurants. But then this is not like any other Chinese restaurant.
They have a “Patrons” charge of $3.20 which I think is for the Chinese tea. Total bill with tips came to $40. Not bad ... not bad at all.
It was one of the better dim sums we had.
Read more of Ben and Suanne’s food and travel adventures on their Chow Times blog.