Friday, December 9, 2011

Dim Sum Buffet at Grand Imperial, London

A random chat with a friend of mine brought up the topic of when she recently had an 'All you can eat' dim sum in London recently. My ears pricked up and my eyes widened, dim sum + all you can eat? That was music to my ears and I was all excited. A flurry of emails later, I found myself with a party of ten heading to Grand Imperial for the dim sum buffet.

During the weekends, the buffet is priced at £18.80 excluding drinks. Add in drinks and service charge and you are looking at about £24 per person.

The menu for the dim sum buffet is limited to approximately 7 or 8 per category with only 3 categories consisting of steamed, fried/baked and rice rolls.

Steamed dim sum

Let's start with the good ones.

Prawn DumplingChar Siu Bao
Prawn Dumpling, Char Siu Bao

Steamed coriander, shrimp dumpling
Steamed coriander shrimp dumpling

The prawn dumplings were good, the skin had the pearl translucent colour and yield to the bite. The prawn filling was fresh and springy. Equally the same to the steamed coriander shrimp dumpling. The Char Siu Bao was just a delight to eat, soft pillowy bun with a hot and piping pork filling.

Glutinuous chicken rice in lotus leaf

The steamed glutinous rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaf was not oily/greasy and each ingredient was distinct yet cohesive. I would have preferred a bolder taste but I guess that is the trade off when you make it healthier.

There is also a different version of prawn dumplings with XO chilli sauce added. The sauce added an extra kick that teases the palate in a good way.

prawn dumplingSteamed pork dumpling with mushroom
Steamed vegetarian dumpling, Siu Mai

I wasn't very impressed with the siu mai and have had better. The vegetarian dumpling was also unimpressive.

Steamed spare ribs in chilli and black bean sauce

I didn't try the steamed spare ribs in chilli and black bean sauce as it was the last thing to arrive at our table after waiting for eons (more about this later).

Fried and Baked dim sum

There wasn't any in this category that I thought were excellent.

Egg tartsBBQ pork puff pastry
Turnip cake with egg, brean sprout and XO chilli saucePan fried carrot cake with sausages

The BBQ pork puff pastries, egg tarts, carrot cake and turnip cake were good and made to the expected standard, no more no less. It was the same with the deep fried vegetarian spring rolls as well.

Deep fried spring rolls

Pan fried foie gras and beef dumpling
Pan-fried foie gras and beef dumpling

The foie gras added a creaminess and earthiness to the beef dumpling. Some loved it while others were ambivalent.

Deep fried chicken straw

The deep fried chicken straw belongs to the 'Do not order' category. The whole flavour balance, texture and size was just wrong.

Rice Rolls

Beef with coriander cheung fun

I was impressed with the sheer variety of rice rolls or cheung fan available but the regular favourites of the prawn and chives and BBQ pork were the winners of the lot. An exception is the scallop cheung fun which was more-ish.

Mushroom cheung fun

We were there for over 3 hours and at the end of the meal, the consensus was overall quality ingredients and dim sum. Some are better than others which is natural and expected in any dim sum place.

Service was patchy and some dim sum ran out even before the peak lunch hour hit. A particular tea that we were drinking also ran out midway and we had to switch to a different tea. The dim sum arrives in batches with long waiting periods in between which added to the lengthy time that we spent there.

It's a great place if you're not in a hurry and have time to kill. Take your time to eat and the buffet price is reasonable. If you don't go for the buffet, the prices of each dim sum is actually on the £££ side and I would then question whether it delivers the service, variety and quality that it charges as there are many other options that I would happily go to.

Will I recommend: Yes
Will I come back: Yes
Have I had better: Yes

Grand Imperial101 Buckingham Palace Road, LondonSW1

Grand Imperial on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm not sure eat all you like is good value... when I go for regular dim sum with a large group, we are hard-pressed to spend more than £15 each including tea... and we eat so much we can't move!

  2. Kavey - I need to go where you go. Depending on who I go and can range from between £16 - £25 for me.

  3. I am kinda intrigued but the selection does seem limited to me. I'm also not sure I could cope with the waiting! Overall, it does seem a good deal in that Grand Imperial is at the posh-end of dim sum.

    On Kavey's comments on cost, I find myself spending anything between £15 to £25 depending on where I go and what I order.


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