The New Forest's Imperial China on Lyndhurst's High Street was, (along with a number of friends & colleagues of my acquaintance), a number one Cantonese & Schezuan restaurant in southern Hampshire, both for the quality of its offerings and its impeccable service..and like those many friends, I was very disappointed when it suddenly closed some while back.
Keeping watch for a re-opening date, we all waited a long time but then happily it did open its doors once more and I really should have been in like a shot and not wait so long for a visit..
Alas 'life' got in the way but finally I managed to pop in on a recent week-day lunch-time, (a regular habit of mine in 'the old days), with a friend and grabbed what used to be my old table... not hard when we were the only diners in the building that day!.
After receiving a warm welcome I looked about me to see that, apart from subtle changes to the decor, the restaurant basically looked like I remembered..and when the menu arrived that also seemed much the same as I previously recalled.
The only difference instantly apparent was a lack of chop-sticks on the immaculately laid table...and though this was not a major thing, 'when in Rome etc' I do try to give it a go, though quite often my meal has cooled considerably as I fight with the fiendish oriental sticks throughout the meal, but being offered just a fork felt not quite the same!.
Nevertheless my companion & I duly ordered and the food arrived in short order and though I detected a subtle change in taste from the previous team in the kitchen, it was delicious and, along with favourite Chinese beer, was consumed in record time.
Though I often relish dining in peace & quiet, it would have been nice to have had a couple of fellow diners dotted around the room, (and I bet that it is regularly the case once again in the evenings), but certainly i was just happy that the The Imperial China was open again for business and my day in Lyndhurst was complete....
Though the two staff on lunchtime duty were very friendly & most attentive, my only genuine disappointment was that there now appeared to be a 10% service charge affixed to the menu, which I don't recall from before. and which, frankly, I find a bit presumptuous as if I want to tip when dining out, it should be purely my decision to thank the house for an excellent meal & service and not be one asked of the management before we have even begun our meal...
.. as it happened we also tipped as well, so they were assured of 'double-bubble'..!
It is a small niggle and sadly now a common feature of dining out, but all-in-all I was pleased to be having lunch once again in this previously favourite restaurant and my dining companion & I will be most certainly be back soon for Round Two..
....and this time I will remember that I have a tongue in my head and ask for chop-sticks..!
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