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Grand Imperial (Reading)

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1 Review

43-45 Oxford Rd, Oxford. tel = 0118 957 2323

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      20.07.2001 01:55
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      Note this restaurant is in Reading and not in Oxford, as listed, DOOYOO panel can u correct this if it is still in Oxford. Grand Imperial This restaurant comes highly praised from my friends in Reading. It offers cuisines from different regions in China, that would be good enough for the emperor himself. I have regularly been disappointed with the standard of Chinese food in most restaurant in the South or Birmingham. I suppose being brought up on Chinese food of a high standard and the regularly dining of top Chinese restaurants in Manchester has made my palette much more hard to please for these cuisines. Well on the high praise from my friends this was chosen as the meal venue for another of my friends stag do. The bosses of the restaurant didn’t have an idea what they were letting themselves in for. In fact this place seems popular for these occasions with us bumping into a hen party also being held there. The restaurant is right in the centre of town I think along a busy street. It was a bit hard to tell as we ran for cover through the heavy rain. It was near Argos anyway for any one wanting a landmark to adhere to. Car parking was easy any how, just don’t ask me for directions! Well the restaurant was very distinctive. It is unmistakably Chinese, and is very elegant. On entering the restaurant we were greeted by several of the waitress and received a friendly welcome. As we had already reserved a table we were brought over to it. The decorations are very authentic and a great effort had gone into making it look like a throne room. There are many Chinese arts on the wall, and the lighting is just about right. The restaurant looked big but didn’t really get to see it properly. After a good first impression I was worried it would go downhill from now. My friend who was a regular recommended several dishes to us and a few of us decided to share a few dishes and we were going for the full works, after
      giving the menu a thorough work over. We were brought prawncrackers to chew on whilst we looked through the menu. The waitresses remained friendly as we took an enternity to decide what to line our empty stomachs (the earlier McDonald lunch wasn’t exactly in the same league –see op). The menu was good, and had a sufficient variety of dishes to keep me happy and a few other items, steamed scallops that I didn’t expect in a relative small restaurant like this. There is a good vegetarian selection, and as one of the gang was a Muslim who doesn’t eat non halal meat, there was adequate sea food dishes for him to choose. The wine selection was good, with cheap wine from 9.50 a bottle for the house wine to much more for those with bigger wallets. We settled for the house white and a house red which we had later. On both occasions we were offered to taste the wine before accepting it, which fewer and fewer places seem to do these days. The house white was good, not dry and quite fruity. The house red was rather disappointing however with little body and fruit and character. The starter selection was good, from spring rolls, spare ribs to the exotic of steamed scallops and squid. The price is reasonable though the steamed scallops were rather expensive though, with the portion size being just two, and small. This was forced upon as they had ran out of squid for the night, but it was fresh. Those that ordered squid dishes had to re choose then, and the scallops did take a long time to arrive whilst the rest of us had finished devouring our starters. After speaking to the waitress to find out where his scallops were, she came back with another of prawncrackers for him to pass time by while he waited. Just as well when it did arrive. The rest of us had prawn balls, spring roll, soup, spare ribs, chicken wings and these were all very well presented and in an adequate portion size. The capital spare ribs were just as good
      as my friend recommended. The main course was served on candle heated plates as true to character. This time all the dishes came very quickly together. Again the portion size was adequate and fairly well presented but the lack of decorations was a bit disappointing. The chilli beef was good, albeit the beef was slightly overfried to too much crispiness but the sauce rescued it. The sweet and sour prawns was tasty but lack that kick. The roasted duck in Cantonese style was reasonable but nothing spectacular and special that makes it memorable. The duck in orange sauce was better with more bite but a little more kick couldn’t do amiss. The sizzling beef in Cantonese style came in the right razzmatazz with the onions and beef sizzling once the sauce was poured on. The sizzling was rather tame in comparison to my favourite restaurants but I suppose saves the other customers from the sizzle giving off. The egg fried was good and not too greasy, and the portion was sufficient for five. The noodles was good and fried very well, but lack that yes, you guess extra character. Although we were not completely filled we gave the desserts the miss after all with a long night ahead of us. Overall the food was delicious but just needs that tiny bit more effort to be right up there with my top restaurants and my dad’s cooking. To be perfectly honest the standard of food and service was high, and this is one of the best Chinese I have had in the south and outside Manchester. I could highly recommend this restaurant. The service charge is added on to the bill though the menu clearly points this out and saves us from having to decide on the amount to tip. Don’t worry folks we left this restaurant in the same state as we found it. It would be a shame to not let other people sample this good quality restaurant as we did.

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