Imperial Herbal Restaurant – Healthy & Nourishing Chinese Food
I love Chinese cuisine, period. I find it very relatable and comforting. But often, one might feel especially ‘heavy’ after a meal due to the excessive amount of grease and salt found in Chinese food. That is why Imperial Herbal Restaurant, with its unconventional approach towards Chinese cooking, won me over completely.
Having been around for 30 years, Imperial Herbal Restaurant was opened by Mrs Wang-Lee Tee Eng. Its first location was at Metropole Hotel along Seah Street. It is the only “yang shen” restaurant in Singapore, and it used to have an in-house Chinese physician. The chef incorporated herbal tonics into their food to create a nourishing meal. The restaurant, which moved from VivoCity, was no stranger to ministers and celebrities. We visited Imperial Herbal Restaurant on a quiet weekday afternoon to sample their signature dishes, and here are some of our top picks!
The Fu Rong (Fluffy Egg White) w/ Dried Scallop ($5/piece) is one of the restaurant’s signature appetisers. According to the current owner, Min Qian, the dish is considered healthy as only egg whites are used — no cholesterol! Dried scallop shreds are then sprinkled onto the puffy egg white, as the pièce de résistance sits in a deep-fried potato cage. The sweetness from the dried scallops enhanced the otherwise bland egg white, while the crispiness of the potato cage nicely contrasted the texture of the fluffy egg white. I don’t know how ‘healthy’ this appetiser is, since there’s a deep-fried component in it, but it sure tasted amazing!
We then had a plate of Stir-Fried Boxthorn Vegetable W/Chinese Wolfberries ($16, $24, $32). I remember when I was a kid, my grandma would instruct me to pluck the edible small round leaves off the thorny stem of the Chinese Boxthorn for use in soup. It has been awhile since I’ve had it, so its taste reminded me of my grandma’s cooking. The first bite of the boxthorn is sweet, with the flavour gradually giving way to a distinct bittersweetness at the end. This dish is supposedly good for the liver and kidney, and also helps to improve one’s eyesight!
For the ladies, do not miss out on the signature Buddha Jumps Over The Wall ($52)! It contains the finest hai zhong bao (treasures of the sea), and some of the luxurious ingredients include sea cucumber, abalone, fish maw, ginseng, and scallops. As we all know, the fo tiao qiang is high in protein, calcium, and, I suspect, collagen too. You’ll feel a glistening layer form on your lips after finishing this stew!
The Braised Cod Fish Flamed W/Dangshen & Huang Qi ($16/100g) was a feast for the eyes. The thick slab of cod is first packed with herbs, and then wrapped with aluminium foil and flamed with alcohol. Min Qian told us that the purpose of flaming is to infuse the aroma of the alcohol into the fish. The codfish carried a subtle sweetness and was firm and moist. The wolfberries, dang shen, and huang qi helped to increase the overall savouriness of this delicate fish. We were also informed that this is a must-order for those looking to supplement the qi and blood!
I have never tasted crocodile meat before, so I was surprised to learn that Braised Crocodile Tail ($16) is offered at Imperial Herbal Restaurant! The slab of croc looked and tasted gelatinous, so the texture of the meat might put off some. Once you get past the initial shock of actually eating part of a reptile, the rest is easy. The braising sauce tasted familiar, though enriched with strong herbal notes.
Stepping into Imperial Herbal Restaurant was like stepping into a time capsule — the interior is decked in old world colours of red, white and gold. The restaurant is popular with older folks who are dressed in their Sunday best. An older crowd sipping on herbal tea, and catching up with friends is a common sight at Imperial Herbal Restaurant. Even though I am not the intended target audience of the restaurant, the high quality of food, and the restaurant’s unwavering commitment to providing yang shen Chinese cuisine really impressed me. I will be back!
Imperial Herbal Restaurant
Address: FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON Level 2, 382 Havelock Road, Singapore 169629
Phone: 6337 0491
Note: This is an invited tasting.
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