It's been a while since I've reviewed a restaurant. And since my days here in Berkeley are numbered, I figured I'd best hop to it.
The Imperial Tea Court is one of my favorite restaurants in the East Bay. Luckily, for me, it also happens to be a five minute walk from my house.
Tucked at the back of the surprisingly well-designed and pleasant Epicurious Garden food court at 1511 Shattuck Avenue (just up the block from Chez Panisse), this tiny restaurant feels bigger than it is, thanks to the complex's shared outdoor seating.
Like its parent establishment across the bay in the Ferry Building, this place is technically a tea house, and they sell a wide variety of excellent teas that they take very seriously but the thing that keeps me going back over and over again is the food.
Although their menu is tiny -- just one page plus a few specials scrawled on a big chalk board, the food is flavorful, fresh and authentic. They also use organic veggies and organic or more sustainably-raised meats so, unlike most Chinese restaurants, you'll leave feeling full in a good way.
You can watch the two women who do all the cooking make your dish from scratch across the counter. Although this system does lead to the food coming out at odd times, it is well worth it.
I went there recently with my good friend, Naushon, who is the one who introduced me to the place, and we ordered a bunch of our mutual favorites.
The pickled daikon is addictive and has the perfect amount of spice/heat.
The green onion pancake is a must! Thin, crispy, and delightfully scallion-y.
The dim sum pork sui mei are tasty though the pan-seared pork potstickers are even better (the pork is from Niman Ranch.)
Along with the Mandarin Chicken, this Hong Kong Curried Chicken never fails - a delicious, light, non-spicy curry in a coconut base made with carrots and kabocha squash served with steamed chard and cabbage and a side of brown rice.
1511 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
Mon-Sat 11 AM - 9 PM
Sun 11 AM - 7 PM
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