"The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor."-Chinese proverb
Imperia, the chic Asian eatery, is located on 3rd and Colorado in the live music capital of the world. Or as Carrie Bradshaw once said, the Warehouse district restaurant is pretty much "on the corner of Right Now and Everyone Was There." The crowd that gathers in and outside of Austin's Imperia is pretty and the buzz surrounding the establishment is strong. Imperia was voted best new restaurant by The Austin Chronicle restaurant poll along with a number of other bests including Best Service/Wait staff, Best Other Oriental/Asian and critics pick for incredibly creative martinis.
So does the eatery live up to the hype? Faster than you can say "edamame potstickers", the answer is yes. The ambiance is unique (see tattooed women murals on the wall and elegant red and mahogany decor--a famed Dick Clark design) and reminiscent of Tao. In fact executive chef Joe Tellus was from the famed Las Vegas and New York restaurant.
A full sushi bar is now part of their menu. Being in Austin, a very vegetarian friendly city, it's no surprise, even Imperia sushi chef Tatsu Aikawa's vegetarian rolls are exquisite. Managing partner C.K. Chin (a local celeb in his own right) explained to us the night we were dining there, that veggie sushi rolls are usually an afterthought at most sushi spots. But the Imperia sushi chef has created a unique roll with tastes of tempura asparagus, inari tofu, cucumbers, marinated shitake mushroom and a silken tofu puree sauce. Even a seafood lover like myself did not realize I was missing anything. Shocking.
If you are in more of a dim sum type mood (regardless of what time of day it is), you could easily make a meal of the appetizers or small plates. Notables include the sugar cane duck kabobs, sea bass skewers and the very popular edamame pot stickers (read a buttery taste that would make Paula Deen happy). Wash down the appetizers with fun drinks like the raspberry-lychee or green tea martinis and ginger mojito. For full entrees, options such as lobster and shrimp pad thai and mussels with wasabi mashers make the cuisine stand apart from usual Asian fare.
PR rating: A manicured thumbs up. The hotspot is great for a gals' night dinner or a light meal and cocktails before a night out in the fun Austin Warehouse district.
image source: imperia-austin.com