Walnut Creek, CA
We are so happy to have found Imperial's dim sum right in Concord. Tin's closing took away our regular local dim sum (we have been before to Shanghai in WC for dim sum, it's ok, not cheap, not spectacular). So we googled and found Imperial. The information on the web is not without controversy. Many reviews knock the service and a couple even call suspect the restaurant's cleanliness/safety. We compared the CCC online restaurant citations for Imperial to several other favorite restaurants and determined that no one has spotless performance. And most of the reviews glowed about the food and that is what it is all about... so onward we ventured!
The place is across the street from the Park n Shop. It is a stand alone building with plenty of parking. I read it used to be Bakers Square and that the old booths etc detracted from the ambiance. The green windows do look a bit "Bakers Square" and the etched glass featuring images of wheat did not seem Chinese decor, but there were no booths and there was nothing about the building's history to cause any drawbacks.
As we approached the entrance one of the restaurant workers was outside and greeted us enthusiastically. Another worked was walking in and held the door for us. In we went. A smiling friendly lady seated us within moments. There were about 3-4 other tables with diners. A nearby cart was wheeled right over by a server and we had baked pork buns and garlic shrimp dumplings (the kind that is pan seared). It was about 11 AM Memorial Day and we weren't sure how much of a crowd to expect. Any experienced dim sum lover knows it is a mistake to arrive early.
A series of carts and servers came by and offered a reasonable variety of dishes. We tasted a pork ginger item, a shrimp dumpling, a shrimp noodle, pot stickers, and pork/shrimp item and I do not recall what else.
It was all delicious! The tea came super hot, but it was nice tea. All the items were hot, several so hot that we had to wait to eat them. There was chili paste on the table and someone brought vinegar. Several items stood out.
*Baked pork buns - very light and soft dough and crispy almost flaky outside. Plenty of nice pork inside; larger pieces, less fatty then typical.
*Ginger pork dumpling - just fantastic flavor.
*Pot stickers - not a typical dim sum choice for us; the filling was not a rubbery blob but a wonderful mix of ground pork and vegetables.
*Shrimp noodles - this is the kind where it comes on an oval plate with 3 wrapped noodles surrounding shrimp. She cuts the noodles with scissors and then pours a sauce over the top. The shrimp were the stars of the show... large fresh and nicely cooked.
The service was attentive and always pleasant in fulfilling our requests. From the moment we arrived until we left the service was as good as I expect from any neighborhood restaurant.
We ate until we had to wave the white flag on surrender. The check came to 30.95 with tax (before tip). What's not to love? Easy parking, friendly people, great food, and no surprises on the check. We will definitely return.
P.S. If the restaurant owner/manager reads this: my only advice, some of the dishes were too large and so we did not order them. The bindweed for example looked wonderful, but it was enough for 6 or 8 and we were only 2. Same goes for the pan fried noodles.