Imperial Treasure, St James's: restaurant review

As the latest culinary addition to St James's scenic Waterloo Place, Imperial Treasure is a serious Chinese restaurant with a serious reputation to live up to

What's the draw

As the first London outpost from the critically lauded Imperial Treasure restaurant group (the Shanghai branch of which was awarded two Michelin stars in 2018), Imperial Treasure was never going to arrive in St James in subtle fashion. If you've got a craving for finessed plates of Chinese cuisine served in an atmosphere of hushed reverence, you're in for a treat – because while Imperial Treasure might be very conscious about the overwhelming fine-dining-ness of itself, the food it serves is nothing if not excellent.

What to drink

A couple of swift cocktails at the bar should be your first port of call. Preparing for what we could only assume would be a night of criminally good eating we smacked back a cucumber and yuzu martini with an intriguingly named 'Illegal Bird' as its partner in crime. The former consisted of Akashi-Tau yuzu sake and Botanist gin. The latter an amalgamation of Illegal mezcal (that's a brand name, not a violation), Campari, Birds Botanical Spirit, orange sherbet and ginger beer. Needless to say, it had a lot going on. The 2018 Greywacke sauvignon blanc we had with our mains had a whistle-clean, almost grassy taste – like all well paired wine should, it brightened the palate with every sip.

What to eat

Imperial Treasure's menu is as expansive as it is expensive. To remedy one of those cases – and simultaneously accelerate the other – we got the signature set-menu. First up was a warmed cocktail glass of silky egg whites topped with a roche moutonnée of Qiandaohu caviar. Just imagine eating a dippy egg with a yolk of immaculate sturgeon roe to get a rough idea of how dangerously easily that went down. Baked crab shell stuffed with crab meat, onion and cheese came soon after: a cousin of the crab cake that's so comforting I've already decided I want my own skeleton to be utilised in a similar manner after my death. Most dishes pivot around a protein: baked silver cod glazed in soy sauce and pan-fried wagyu beef rolls wrapped around tendrils of enoki mushrooms deliver a savoury one-two punch combo. Just about making it back to our feet before the 10-count, we were then thumped with a haymaker of deep-fried French quail: the gamey bird, sprinkled with a fairy's dusting of five spice, had a skin so crisp it crackled to the touch. Crackle's stablemates, snap and pop, also found themselves well accounted for as rice in steaming shrimp broth comes accompanied by a ramekin of the deep fried grain that my fellow diner describes as "Rice Krispies on steroids". If you, like us, round off the meal by trammelling into the addictive crisp and chew of golden Jian dui sesame balls, it's a safe bet you'll leave feeling well and truly indulged.

Signature set menu: £128; plates from £16; wine from £9.90 by the glass. Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4BE;