Imperia is featuring a new menu this fall and we had the pleasure of tasting a few! Let’s just say that they have definitely taken it to the next level infusing Asian-style flavors with Mexican, Italian, and many other cuisine. Chef Ian Kokkeler is hoping to inspire patron’s taste buds with this dive into a new style. I can definitely vouch that my taste buds were offered a treat that evening and I will be returning!
The stylish and sophisticated dining area offers a great ambiance for a post work-day drink and dinner with dim lighting and comfortable seating. Imperia has renovated its conjoined space into the much-hyped Bambu Lounge, with easy access to an upbeat and fun evening including a separate bar and DJ.
The evening began with a spicy edamame prepared with sliced Fresno peppers. Wok cooking allows for the taming of the pepper and the release of greater flavors pairing well with the tasty Asian staple. The edamame was followed by a fried brussel sprout in a posado gastrique, one of my top contenders for the evening. The tenderness of the brussel sprout mixed with the deliciously sweet gastrique caused me to clear the portion I placed on my plate.
Following the edamame and brussel sprouts was one of the most culturally fused dishes of the meal. House-aged beef with tomatillo and caper aioli, watercress and radish on a yuzu dusted tostada. The creaminess of the aioli combined with the spices of the house age beef was mesmerizing. The beef was incredibly tender and was the star of the tostado offering great flavors and texture.
Next came the large platter of the classic rolls and sashimi that Imperia is known for and a seared scallop with bell pepper jus, fried leeks, roasted cauliflower and orange black vinegar gastrique. There is something to be said for a perfectly prepared scallop, offering such a unique texture and flavor. The golden sear on the side offers a stamp of authenticity and expected joyful consumption.
The main dish of the evening was a full fried red snapper with marinated tomatoes, cucumber sunimono, watermelon radish and crisp Bibb lettuce as assortment of Thai sauces. It was quite daunting to see a large fish on a giant wooden plank laying in front of me, especially without a book of follow-along instructions on deconstructing and eating. But, with work from the table, we enjoyed a large portion of the meat from the fish, which was phenomenal. The four sauces accompanying the fish were possibly the best part of the meal. The spicy sauce filled with peppers that had a slight sweetness to it was my favorite. The sauces’ powerful flavors enhanced the variety of taste and style of lettuce wraps in the evening’s main course.
To finish the meal we were served a yuzu and buttermilk panna cotta. The creamy flavor of the panna cotta was almost like that of a cheesecake; creamy, sweet, and thick with infusions of flavor brown butter financier, blueberry compote, fresh mint and blackberries and kafir lime.
Imperia enlightened me to the ability to mix flavors from different cuisines and that sticking to just one is not necessary. The magic that can be created from the fusion of mexican, italian and asian spices is phenomenal and a definite reason to visit Imperia.