Sunday, February 26, 2012

Imperial Garden brings flavor to Madison

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Peking Duck
If you're someone who have not tried duck or only have had it in a simple preparation, you should definitely try Imperial Garden's Peking Duck.  It's a whole duck specially prepared and served in three courses.  You can tell the dish is takes time since Imperial Garden requests you order at least one day in advance.

The first course is crispy duck skin with madarin crepes (picture on left).  This is my favorite part of the meal because of the unique sweet, crispy, and juiciness you get alone just from the duck skin.  Usually, duck skin has a really thick soft fatty texture, though the thin duck skin had a bacon-like crispiness.  It's thin duck bacon!  Also a highlight, is the sweet glaze that has a candy mango flavor you can't get enough of.

The second course is duck soup with assorted vegetables (top right).  Similar to other poultry broth, the duck soup has a familiarity though this soup is more flavorful and has great texture with the bits of duck, mushrooms and carrots.

Lastly, the third course is the seasoned sauteed duck served with rice (lower right).  The duck is cooked perfectly, just absolutely tender and moist.  Unfortunately, it has a strong soy sauce presence that masks the gaminess of the duck though because of that, the dish has a one tone flavor.  I wish more flavor is incorporated into this part of the dish especially when the first two courses are packed flavor and uniqueness.  Overall, great experience.  I would definitely ask for the soup and crispy duck skin again. 
Lettuce Wrapped Shrimp
Another great experience is their lettuce wrapped shrimp which can also come in chicken or tofu, appetizer or entree.  I'm admitting, I have returned solely for the lettuce wrapped shrimp.  They serve their lettuce wrap with a choice of lettuce or mandrin pancake, but why choose? Have both lettuce and mandrin pancake which is what I suggest; I wouldn't have it any other way.  You take the pancake and lay a lettuce leaf on top.  Then, layer the mince shrimp and vegetables with the thin crisp noodles and drizzle a spoonful of ginger soy over the spectrum of food.  Either fold it up like a taco or roll it up like an eggroll; prepare yourself, this can get messy.  With your first bite, you'll notice an amazing savory flavor from the shrimp like a smoky hibachi with savory sweet flavor.  In addition, you get all this great crunchy texture from the dry crispy noodle and lettuce and soft texture from season cooked veggies and the thin stretchy pancake.  I totally recommend this dish.  Also be sure to get the ginger soy sauce with it.  It compliments it so perfectly.  I had a server forget it once.

Crispy Duck
Half, bone-in duck seasoned, roasted and fried is definitely a way to overcome the gaminess duck naturally has.  It may be for those who are familiar with the duck flavor though I believe it can be a dish for ones who want to venture out and try something different.  It is very similar to fried chicken but beware, duck meat is all dark meat.  The crisp duck is served with hoisin sauce which helps add sweetness to the dish.  Also, be careful when biting into this meal, you'll notice you'll hit bone more often then you would when eating chicken.

Shrimp Rangoon
Typically you'll find in the appetizer section crab rangoon which is cream cheese with a blend of shredded crab imitation.  Imperial Garden has a different take and has chunks of fresh shrimp mixed in with cream cheese.  The taste and texture of the shrimp is all there and works great with cream cheese and crispy fried wrap.  The sauce has a sweet pineapple flavor and added a bit more, complementing the shrimp rangoon.

Crispy Scallops
And there's always at least one dish that lessens the experience.  Unfortunately, the lightly battered deep fried scallops disappointed me in many ways.  I had expectations since I was content with the other dishes but with this dish, disappointment couldn't have been avoided.  As you can see from the picture alone, you wouldn't have any idea what that was.  Is it chicken nuggets, fried veggie slices, what is it?  Well, it's the crispy scallops which was once probably 3 or 4 perfectly fine scallops until thinly sliced, covered in batter, and fried.  Its basically getting overpriced fish sticks.
2039 Allen Boulevard, Middleton, WI
(608) 238-6445

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