In recent months, it has turned into a mini crusade of mine to try to find my favourite Chinese restaurant in Northamptonshire.
To cut to the chase, Imperial Oriental is definitely one of the best, striking a good balance between quality of food and cost and I’ll certainly be returning.
The restaurant is located in Castilan Street and surrounded by other highly rated eateries. My partner, Alys, and I decided to pay a week-night visit to Imperial Oriental and took a chance by not booking ahead.
From the outset, we were both impressed by the menu. Imperial Oriental offers many of the Chinese dishes you’d expect to find on both takeaway or restaurant menus.
However, many sounded more diverse and exciting, without bombarding you with obscure selections which run across numerous pages.
We both ordered drinks which arrived promptly (Coke £2.30 each) and were handed a basket which was almost overflowing with prawn crackers. These were devoured in minutes.
Imperial Oriental offers an a la carte menu as well as all-you-can-eat options for set prices depending on when you visit. Ours were £17.50 each.
We decided to order from the all-you-can-eat menu, choosing crispy crab meat rolls, sesame prawn toast, crispy seaweed with roasted cashew nuts and chicken skewers with Malaysian satay sauce. All arrived promptly on a large plate.
Each starter was tasty, piping hot and difficult to fault. Small touches like the cashew nuts with the seaweed and generous portion of satay sauce made these starters stand out in comparison to those served elsewhere.
We both decided to shun the traditional second course of crispy shredded duck when we noticed crispy lamb as an alternative. It arrived pre shredded, with a selection of pancakes, cucumber and spring onion, usually found accompanying duck.
The lamb was a nice alternative and was crispy and flavoursome. By this time, we were both feeling quite full and had yet to order our main courses.
However, we persevered and before long my crispy lemon chicken, coated with crunchy almonds, and Alys’s stir-fried squid in black bean sauce arrived with side dishes of special fried rice and aubergines with sea-spiced sauce.
Compared to the large plated starter platter, both mains arrived on much smaller plates, which initially underwhelmed me a little.
Despite this, the lemon chicken was almost spot on, only lacking a little in its crispiness.
Alys’s squid was spicy and cooked perfectly. However, it was the aubergine side dish which really stood out, packed full of flavour and a great addition to our main courses.
Desserts were on offer, but we were both too full to order.
Our final meal came to under £40, which for the quality of food, we thought was great value. The St Giles Street area is packed with some great restaurants. If you’re after a great Chinese, Imperial Oriental is certainly one to visit.
FOOD:Tasty and varied
DISABLED ACCESS: No
PARKING: On street
COST OF OUR MEAL
FINAL TOTAL: £39.40
David’s star rating: 7/10
22 Castillian Street
Northampton, NN1 1JX