Imperial Wharf is going to be amazing when they finally finish building it. At the moment, it’s quiet and the four restaurants there are rarely busy. This turned out to be a good thing from my perspective because it meant I could just walk straight into Yi-Ban without booking.
This restaurant is one of a pair. It’s sister, in the Docklands is apparently the ‘yin’ of the couple, decorated in light colours with an airy feel. The one we visited last night is dark and sultry with black tables and red lights. On entering the restaurant, you are taken past a small ‘teppanyaki’ style area, where on busier evenings and lunch times the chef would be cooking in front of the guests. Beyond that there is a very large seating area divided up by paper thin cloth walls. This gives the impression of being in a very small room with only four or five tables even though there must have been hundreds.
Cocktails here are expensive (£7-£12) but delicious. I had the Imperial Yi-Ban martini, which was flavoured with strawberry and vanilla. The staff are very friendly and chatty but still manage to have perfect timing when attending to the customers.
The menu is quite extensive and has several tempting things on it. There is a wide range in the pricing. Starters cost from £5 to £13 and mains cost anything from £10 to £30. The wine list also has a good range. We shared a relatively cheap French Viognier at £16 which turned out to be excellent value for money.
Spoilt for choice, we went for the third set menu which included four courses: The chef’s special starter, aromatic duck, a selection of mains and a dessert.
I was absolutely blown away by the starter. It was fillet of beef with a pomegranate and lime dressing. It was the presentation that made it so special. The seared beef had been very thinly sliced and then formed into a rose. It was beautiful and so impressive.
The aromatic duck was very good, although no more than in other restaurants. The portion size was generous though. The mains were lovely. We had scallops with XO sauce, best end of lamb with three sauces and spicy salmon served with crispy seafood noodles and a selection of mixed oriental vegetables. My favourite was the lamb. It was perfectly cooked and really tender. The salmon was a bit disappointing. I felt it had been a little overcooked and had dried out a bit. I absolutely loved the noodles.
There was nearly twice as much food as I expected but we still managed to get through most of it. Feeling very stuffed, we only could manage sorbet for dessert (which was just as well as the kitchen had shut). The sorbets were excellent - you could tell they were freshly made that day.
At £45 per head for the food, it wasn’t cheap but we did get an unbelievable amount of food. Other choices would enable you to eat for £25 per head. This is certainly the best chinese I have been to. If you like this cuisine, you must give it a try!