Imperial Treasure Teochew Kitchen
Formidable restaurateur Alfred Leung's month-old casual dining outlet is running like a well-oiled culinary machine
By Geoffrey Eu, 25 July 2005
The Business Times
WHEN it comes to striking culinary gold, Alfred Leung is the man with the Midas touch. Just over a year ago, the man whose name was inextricably linked with the highly successful Crystal Jade Chinese restaurant group stunned the industry by abruptly leaving the company and starting up his own restaurant business.
Casual dining: Home-styled delicacies include congee (top) and Vegetable in Thick Soup
Within six months, he opened the fine dining Imperial Treasure Teochew Restaurant in Ngee Ann City, followed in quick succession by Imperial Treasure Nan Bei, located one floor above.
Now, Leung has set his sights on the casual dining end of the market, with Imperial Treasure La Mian Xiao Long Bao in Marina Square and his newest venture, Imperial Treasure Teochew Kitchen, which opened a month ago in Suntec City Mall.
That's four Hong Kong-style restaurants in less than seven months, which qualifies as serious expansion by any standard. Leung appears intent on building the brand in double-quick time and competing head-on with Crystal Jade - and that's good news for diners, because he is incapable of culinary mediocrity.
Imperial Treasure Teochew Kitchen is just two doors away from a Crystal Jade Kitchen, and another door down from a Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao branch.
Whether by accident or design, Leung and Crystal Jade principal Ip Yiu Tung (who is also his brother-in-law) are engaged in a game of culinary chess, with each shadowing the other - their flagship restaurants at Ngee Ann City are separated only by the width of a corridor.
Over the years, Leung has forged a reputation course as a formidable restaurateur. He was instrumental in transforming Crystal Jade from a single-outlet restaurant into a regional brand with dozens of branches in several countries. His deceptively simple approach to running restaurants involves keeping a sharp eye on the operational details and letting the food speak for itself.
Once again, it seems to have worked. For a month-old outlet, Imperial Treasure Teochew Kitchen is already running like a well-oiled culinary machine, with Leung at the controls, directing his troops in everything from the way each dish is presented to the amount of tea poured into a customer's glass - details, details.
The menu at Imperial Treasure Teochew Kitchen is varied and impressive, and the chefs will readily accommodate any variations or non-menu requests. The 'Kitchen' brand implies a more casual, home-style approach to dining, but the fare is still remarkably good. The dishes sampled during a recent tasting session were all tasty, consistently well-cooked and served at the right temperature. Marinated dishes are a standard feature at any Teochew establishment, and a triple-combination of sliced Roast Goose, Pork Neck and Pig's Intestine ($14) passed this essential test without difficulty.
Other traditional items included Boiled Congee with Sliced Pomfret ($6) and Stewed Cabbage with Prawns ($14). Home-style delicacies like a whole Steamed Yellow Fish with Preserved Vegetable ($14) and a Deep Fried Diced Chicken Wrapped in Egg White ($12) were excellent, while the Vegetable in Thick Soup ($6), a green-and-white concoction of pureed spinach and chicken stock, was smooth and refined.
The Yellow Fish is air-flown from Hong Kong. 'We always look at the quality,' he says. 'I'm always in constant communication with the chefs and we make sure that great care is taken over every dish.'
Fried Rice with Mince Meat and Preserved Olive ($8) is a lesser known Teochew specialty, as was the Noodle with Sesame Sauce ($5), accompanied by prawns, mushrooms and chopped bamboo shoots.
'Basically, Teochew food is quite standard, so we offer a bit of variation by using seasonal ingredients or having a more flexible cooking style,' says Leung.
The food at Imperial Treasure Teochew Kitchen is a notch or two up in standard from similar establishments, and that's why Alfred Leung has another winner on his hands.
The concept may not be original, but by providing very good food with efficient service at reasonable prices, it really doesn't have to be.
Imperial Treasure Teochew Kitchen
3 Temasek Boulevard #B1-011, Suntec City Mall.