Imperial City Bistro 紫金城京菜

July 09, 2012
I rarely venture into the Terra Nova area, so I didn't know about Imperial City Bistro until Sab suggested dim sum there. This restaurant is located in the strip mall right on the corner of No. 1 and Westminster. Very easy to find!

The first item to come was a dessert called "donkey doing rolls" (驢打滾) ($5.95). It's essentially a sesame-crusted sticky rice roll with red bean paste inside. The authentic version is supposed to be covered in yellow bean powder, hence resembling a donkey covered in sand and dust from rolling around. I thought the sticky rice portion would be chewy and well... sticky, but it turned out to be rather soft and mushy. I didn't like the texture at all, but the taste was alright.

The pork dumplings with chili sauce (紅油抄手) ($5.95) looked really spicy, but the sauce was actually more savoury than spicy which was perfect for me. I liked the thin dumpling skin as well as the flavour of the marinated meat filling.

The green onion pancake (蔥油餅) ($3.95) was a bit different from the ones I've had elsewhere. It was basically a thin chewy piece of dough as opposed to multiple fluffy and flaky layers. It lacked both texture and taste, and the oiliness didn't help either.

A traditional Beijing style breakfast is freshly fried Chinese doughnuts with steaming bowls of soy milk (油條配豆漿) ($3.95 each). We ordered 2 portions since there were 6 of us, but we didn't manage to finish because the doughnuts were much bigger than expected. They were the best I've had though, even better than the ones at Ningbo.

I was a bit surprised that the soy milk was not unsweetened but slightly sugary.

The shredded cabbage with jellyfish (手撕白菜蟄頭) ($5.95) was a cold dish and when we started serving it, we discovered a live insect in between the leaves. We immediately returned it and the replacement didn't come until half an hour later. I never had raw cabbage before, but it was interesting with its crunchy texture and subtle sweetness. The flavourful vinaigrette and bouncy jellyfish also added to the dish.

We had ordered stir fried noodles with shredded pork, but we got stir-fried seafood noodles (海鮮拉麵) ($9.95) instead. We didn't bother returning it because we had already returned the cabbage salad. At least this dish didn't have a bug in it. The noodles were just your average slightly mushy stir-fried noodles with soy sauce, nothing really worth mentioning. There was a lot of seafood (squid, shrimp) though, so it's pretty good value if you like squid and shrimp.

It's amazing how much I lower my standards for Chinese restaurants. If I had a similar experience at a Western restaurant, I'd probably vow never to go back again. But with Chinese restaurants, I figure I have to compromise as long as the food is decent. The Chinese doughnuts here were crispy, fluffy and delicious, but the other dishes were not too impressive. Given that Ningbo is much closer to where I live and has very tasty juicy pork dumplings for a cheap price, it will most likely remain my restaurant of choice for Northern Chinese fare.

Imperial City Bistro on Urbanspoon


  1. I always wondered how this restaurant was! It's like a five minute walk from my house so I'm glad you reviewed it! LOL

    Maybe if I want convenient dim sum, I can try this place out. When I'm back :P

  2. @Kirby: Yea give it a try. It's not bad as long as you look past the service. The menu is really pretty with coloured pics of every dish just like at Ningbo.


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