My favourites are the chicken soup-based stock at Thien Kee and fish bones-based soup stock at Nan Hwa Chong, both of which have very good soup stocks, with nary a whiff of MSG or milk-sweetened additives.
We've always liked the food at Imperial Treasure, be it the Cantonese cuisine at their Nan Bei group of restaurants, or the Xiao Long Bao arm offering Shanghainese or Beijing cuisine. So, when Imperial Treasure ventured into Hongkong-style steamboat territory, I was eager to see how it'll fare against my favourites. Having tried the steamboat, my take is that while the ingredients were indeed fresh, the soup stock was something a competent cook could have whipped up in the kitchen, unmemorable and relatively bland. Also, the prices were not particularly competitive, seeing as the bill for the 2 of us, without seafood, came up to a whopping $100.
Imperial Treasure serves about 10 different soup stocks, and you can choose to have 2 different types in a split-pot or just 1 variety. There's the satay, healthy chicken, drunken chicken, herbal chicken with ginseng, traditional pork bone, kelp and seaweed, sichuan spicy, century egg and parsley soup stocks. Apparently, the pork bone and chicken varieties are their most popular. We got the Satay-Healthy Chicken ($14) split-pot. The satay stock was really very light, almost creamy, it was like a watery version of peanut butter. I liked that pig's skin was added in to chunk up the satay soup, but I didn't like that we had to pay for the soup stock.As I've mentioned before, the soups are really really light, almost bland, so it's better to get the more "exotic" and unusual soup bases as opposed to the traditional chicken or pork soup stock mostly because you can easily replicate those soup stocks in your own kitchen. The satay is recommended, and probably the kelp and seaweed.
A staggering total of 12 different condiments ($1.50 per person) are provided as accompaniments, which is just as well, seeing as how the soup stock is really quite bland. I thought this was quite pricey, in view of the fact that these were merely condiments. Let's see if I can remember all of them. Top left to right: chicken rice chilli, sambal chilli, spring onions. 2nd row from top, left to right: dunno, cut fresh green chillis, cut red chillis. 3rd row from top, left to right: cut pickled green chillis, peanut sauce, sesame seeds. Bottom left to right: plum sauce, crisp fried garlic bits, raw chopped garlic.
We got Assorted Mushrooms ($8), shitake, shimeiji, white button, enoki varieties which went well with both the satay soup and chicken soup. While i didn't think mushrooms were worth $8, I'll concede that these were fairly exotic mushrooms.
We also got an additional portion of just shitake, the Japanese Mushrooms ($3.50).
We loved the Shrimp Wantons ($6), slippery smooth wantons with fresh crunchy prawns which went really well with the chicken stock, and sambal chilli, but not so much the satay soup.
The Spinach ($3) infused the soups with a slightly metallic accent, which wasn't a particularly good idea. Still, if we hulled it out fast enough, this was nice and soft.
The Fresh Chicken ($5) was really fresh, oil-smoothened and juicy. This went well with both soups.
The USA Short Rib Meat ($28) was somewhat worth its price-tag, with its delightful marbling and robust flavours.
Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant
111 Somerset Road
Tel: 6732 8231
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 11pm for dinner
Sundays from 11am to 3pm for lunch and 6pm to 11pm for dinner