Imperial Court Restaurant

Special thanks to The TOP for extending this food review invitation.

Accessible via skybridge from Prangin Mall, The TOP Komtar Penang is Penang's latest entertainment and dining complex. This mall features a complete makeover of the stairway that connects Komtar Walk to KOMTAR Tower. For visitors' convenience, there are several escalators that ascend in parallel to the stairs.
The TOP has around a dozen eateries that cover cuisines of all sorts. One of them is Imperial Court Restaurant (王朝海鲜酒家), which is the main destination of my visit today. This Chinese restaurant is located on Level 6, one level above where most food outlets are located.
The ambience of Imperial Court Restaurant is truly splendid. Carpeted floor and fancy chandeliers present an appearance of luxury. The main dining section can be expanded to accommodate up to 38 banquet tables. There are also several private rooms for parties of different sizes. Each room is equipped with karaoke entertainment.
Under supervision of a renowned chef from Hong Kong, Imperial Court Restaurant's menu revolves around Cantonese cuisine (粤菜). Dim sum (点心) is served during brunch every day. Unlike some restaurants, dim sum is not carted around the dining section, but is made to order.
There are tens of steamed and fried dim sum varieties on the menu. Served in bamboo containers, Steamed Pork Dumplings With Shark's Fin (干蒸鱼翅卖, RM8.00) contain succulent taste of minced pork. Shark fin and roe are added on top the dumplings.
Another delectable treat is Steamed Prawn Dumplings With Thai Sauce (泰式凤尾虾, RM8.00). Topped with shrimps, the dumplings are juicy and succulent to the last morsel. Meanwhile, sweet-spicy Thai sauce tantalizes the taste buds in a pleasant way.
Steamed Yuan Yang Dumplings (鸳鸯卖, RM8.00) are filled with scallop and crab meat. Soft dough skin retains the natural juices of these dumplings. The skin is also delectable on its own.
Diners who love fermented black beans (豆豉) should try some Steamed Crispy Dumplings With Black Bean Sauce (豉汁云吞卖, RM8.00). The dumplings are fried beforehand, and then placed in a steamer until they are fully cooked.
One of my favorite dishes this morning is Steamed Pork Trotter With Minced Garlic (蒜蒸猪脚, RM8.00). This pork cut contains a good mixture of lean meat and fat. The pork is so tender that it almost melts in the mouth.
Steamed Shanghainese Xiao Long Bao (上海小笼包, RM8.00) consists of minced pork wrapped with thin dough skin and folded at the top. The filling also contains some soup. The correct way of eating the dumpling is by biting the dough skin, and then slurping the savory liquid inside. This Shanghainese delicacy is usually eaten with vinegar and ginger slivers (姜丝).
Steamed Rice Rolls With Prawn (鲜虾滑肠粉, RM9.00) are served with sweet soy sauce. In a separate saucer, there are dried shrimps (虾米) and chili oil (辣油) to serve as condiments. These Hong Kong-style rice rolls are enjoyed for their soft texture and juicy shrimps inside.
An essential element of Hong Kong dim sum is Oven Baked Mini Egg Tarts (酥皮蛋挞仔, RM8.00). The tarts are filled with sweet egg custard, which taste best while they are piping hot from the oven. I also love the flakiness of the puff pastry, which in my opinion is the main appeal of these tarts.
Switching to fried dim sum, Deep Fried Crispy Yam Rolls (香脆芋泥卷, RM7.00) feature light crisp on the surface. The rolls are filled with taro (芋头) whose sweetness dominates the overall taste. I think it is better to tone down the level of sweetness.
Deep Fried Crispy Prawn Rolls (沙律鲜虾卷, RM9.00) are coated with tofu skin (豆腐皮). Deep-fried to golden perfection, the rolls are sufficiently crispy without being too greasy. These rolls go well with the accompanying sweet mayonnaise.
Moving away from mainstream dim sum, Roasted Crispy Pork Belly (脆口烧腩仔, RM24.00) consists of 3 distinct layers: skin, fat and lean meat. As per tradition, pork belly is served with mustard sauce (芥末酱). However as I am not used to mustard's pungency, I prefer to enjoy the succulent pork belly without using any condiments.
While the previous dish is enjoyable, I am more attracted by the Crispy Suckling Piglet Served With Buns (脆皮乳猪包, RM26.00). As my teeth sinks into piglet skin, gratifying aroma is unleashed immediately. Crispy piglet skin comes with miniature buns, cucumber, scallion and sweet sauce. The overall taste is heavenly to say the least.
If the food as far has not filled your stomach, a plate of Hong Kong Egg Noodles With Seafood (港式海鲜面, RM33.00) should do the trick. The Cantonese noodle is fried such that it becomes crispy, and then served with thick gravy and seafood ingredients like fish, squid and shrimps. The noodle dish also contains bok choy (小白菜) and shiitake mushrooms (香菇).
As for drinks, Imperial Court Restaurant pours Fen Jiu (汾酒), a brand of sorghum wine from the Shanxi Province (山西省) of China. Two types are available: 42% and 53% alcohol by volume. Fen Jiu's alcohol content is even higher than whisky's 40%. Therefore, Fen Jiu is typically poured into shot glasses. If not finished, the wine bottle can be kept at the restaurant for future visits.
Even though Imperial Court Restaurant's dim sum is noticeably more expensive when compared to typical dim sum eateries, one must also account the fact that the food here come in larger portions and use premium ingredients. In addition, the restaurant offers several course meal packages with prices from RM888.00 to RM2,688.00 net per table of 10 people. For larger banquets, The TOP also has a Grand Ballroom on Level 5 which can accommodate up to 50 tables.
I had the opportunity to briefly explore The TOP, at least the lower floors. The main attractions are located on Level 5. Probably the most prominent display is the large LED ceiling that spans tens of meters. Also contributing to the carnival-like atmosphere daily parade shows such as dance troupes at the atrium.
Other attractions here are ticketed. For instance, the Jurassic Research Center features animatronic dinosaurs and has indoor and outdoor sections. Other major highlights are 7D Discovery Motion Theatre, Ocean Explorer and Tech Dome Penang. Focusing on infotainment values, The TOP is a great place to spend the weekend with the family, or for schoolteachers to arrange field trips.
Other restaurants at The TOP are Only Mee, Richdad, Italian Job Pizzaria, Umi and Marrybrown, just to name a few. As for food courts, Market Food Street and Japanese Food Street (和食通り) serve visitors who prefer a wide variety of food choices.
There are two more eateries: Top View on Level 59, Coco Cabana on Level 68, but I have yet to explore the upper floors KOMTAR Tower. Speaking of KOMTAR Tower, visitors can get a bird's-eye view of George Town from the Rainbow Skywalk on Level 68, or the Observatory Deck on Level 65. I am looking forward to exploring the attractions and other restaurants in the near future.
Name: Imperial Court Restaurant (王朝海鲜酒家)
Address: The TOP Komtar Penang, 1, Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-375-5525
Business hours: 10:00am-2:30pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm (Monday-Saturday), 9:00am-2:30pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm (Sunday and public holiday)
Website: http://thetop.com.my/dining/imperial-court-restaurant
Coordinates: 5.41543 N, 100.33037 E
Directions: Imperial Court Restaurant is located at Level 6 of The TOP Komtar Penang. The restaurant is accessible by stairs from Komtar Walk, or by elevator on Level 4 and 5. As for parking, The TOP has a multistorey parking garage.

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