Coffee & Tea

San Francisco Bay Area

Imperial Tea Court demi-slam / Return of un-sex-changed Patrick


Coffee & Tea 9

Imperial Tea Court demi-slam / Return of un-sex-changed Patrick

patrick | Jul 2, 2004 12:49 PM

OK, I didn't move away, but it's been a long time since I wrote (and a long time since I went out to eat, for that matter!). So, hi. Nice to see everyone.

Last Wednesday, I went to Imperial Tea Court at the Ferry Building with my partner and two friends. Having read about it in the NY Times, and having ogled its tasty-looking lunch specials on the board when at the FB, we thought it looked pretty good. We're also recently converted to tea from coffee, so there was that added interest.

I called ahead on Tuesday and made a reservation, requesting the "Introduction to Tea" tasting program as listed on their web site.

We got there and had a reservation, and were seated promptly. However, any mention of the tea tasting received a befuddled stare from all three of the servers who came to our table. Meanwhile, things moved slowly, and we were peckish enough to decide to just order food and skip the ceremony, for heaven's sake.

The food was brilliant. Braised organic pork with ginger and carrots was rich and smooth and tasty. Vegetable curry in the ubiquitous yellow chinese curry sauce was tasty and saucy. The wonton soup was fragrant with a jasmine-tea-infused chicken stock (I gotta try that at home!) and spicy-rich wontons. Even the perfunctory side of simmered baby bok choy was tender and well-seasoned.

We each had the recommended cup of tea with our dish, too. The server regained his composure enough to give us pretty much what we were after in the way of a tea introduction, preparing each of our brews individually and explaining their characteristics and the proper way to ddrink them. He also repeatedly attempted to explain just why it was that our introductory tea program reservation had fallen through the cracks. He fell short of apologizing, but managed to say something along the lines of "If you want to do one of the tea ceremonies, you should go to our Chinatown location." Which is certainly not communicated on the web site (or in the laudatory New York Times article)!

So. Frankly, we thought the service was terrible, if knowledgable. The soup arrived twenty minutes after the three other dishes (it got lost in the original order). We did not get a satisfactory explanation as to why our tea ceremony was impossible, or, as I said, even a real apology. And in the end they forgot to give us a receipt, which I guess serves us right for paying cash. Very frustrating for a place for which quality is obviously such a priority. I can only hope that ours was a rare exception.

We'll probably go back, for the food, but you can be sure we won't expect any ceremony along with it!

I searched the board for any other Imperial Tea Court experiences, but could find none. Anyone else have a good or bad time?

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