Austin >Food & Dining > Imperia
A dressy, downtown Japanese/Chinese outfit with an inventive sushi menu -- and given the atmosphere, prices really aren't that bad. Vegetarians will like the Buddha-Licious, stuffed with shiitake mushrooms, inari tofu, sprouts, cucumber, avocado, and tempura asparagus; carnivores (and sushi iconoclasts) will like the BLT: It's miso-glazed bacon, avocado, tuna, and lettuce in a tomato basil wrap, topped with pesto and tomato aioli.
Used to be great, now it's TERRIBLE!. I'm REALLY disappointed in this place. The service there is TERRIBLE. Our waiter was completely rude and only paid attention to us after we complained. We had to complain no less than six times just to get him to help our table. It took us 20 minutes just to get menus. After sitting for 45 minutes, we finally received 1 order of edemame (we ordered 4 edemames). We did not get the other 3 orders of edemame until 20 minutes after that. And then they finally took our entree order. Each time we got service was only because we complained. And then the server tried to argue with my friend once he realized we weren't going to tip him the full 20%, as though he had a right to demand the money for such poor service. The hostesses were apologetic but kept using the excuse that the restaurant was very busy. I've been to Imperia several, several times where the restaurant was much busier and the service 1000 times better. Imperia used to be my favorite, and it's a real shame how sad a shell of its former self it's become. Hopefully, they will at least try to get a better server who actually works and doesn't insult their customers!!!
Citysearch Editorial Review. Complemented by elaborate chandeliers, provocative murals, onyx stone panels and a golden Buddha statue, the restaurant's deep reds and dark woods bring to mind the pomp and polish of an imagined Hong Kong supper club. But the warm and friendly staff is purely Austin. Despite excessively dark corners, pristine padded booths and high-backed leather chairs, the staff comes off warm with their conversation and genuine enthusiasm for the menu, though service tends to lag during peak times. Complex and flavorful dishes, such as firecracker shrimp and mussels with wasabi mashers, combine flavors popular in Southeast Asia, Japan, Thailand and other Pacific ports of call. The distinct flavors found in a single yuzu-crusted oyster, served in a nest of candied hijiki salad and wasabi creme on a soup spoon, are reason enough to visit. Entrees such as Chilean sea bass glazed in Miso (it melts on your tongue), lobster and shrimp pad Thai, and Korean rib-eye with chive blossoms are available for those seeking a full meal. There's plenty of seating in the bar and lounge to enjoy a drink while waiting for your table, however compact space is jammed full of tables, causing diners to shuffle in their chairs frequently to let others pass. High ceiling makes dining room quite loud.
Perfect place for sushi date. I LOVE the atmosphere in this place. It is beautiful and the booths give it a different feel than any other restaurant I've been to. Food was great quality. Pricey but worth it!
Good food, fun atmosphere. I went to Imperia with a group of 8. They sat us by the sushi bar at a tall table, and there weren't many people there at all when we arrived at 8 on a saturday, so this threw a red flag for me. We ordered about 5 hot appetizers to share, and for the meal, some ordered sushi and my husband and I shared the dragon short ribs. Everything was outstanding! Especially the miso skewers, short rib, and tuna tartar. Service was very good as well. By the time we left, the place was packed! I guess it's more of a late night place. I wouldn't go here on a date, as it's pretty loud, but the tatami tables (where you sit on the floor on little cushions) looked like a fun place to eat too. I would definitely come back.
Way overpriced!. Went with a group on Saturday night. Nice decor, 30 minute wait was no problem. When we sat down, the music in the dining area was loud, club like. We ordered several sushi rolls, sushi, miso soup, miso seabass. Everything took forever to recieve. They forgot 2 rolls, and we had to ask several times for them. The food was TINY. Much smaller than other local sushi places. but way more expensive. We were hungry when we left, but had each spent over $50 per person so far on food. Ridiculous! Go to Kyoto or Musashino, much better food and more for your money.
One of my top 5 in Austin!. First off, the Dragon Rib is one of the best dishes I've ever had. The sashimi sampler was also Awesome! The Pearl Martini & Wasabi Bloody Mary were 2 of the most original & tasty drinks drinks I've come across. Service was great and very helpful with our dinner choices. A+
Worst Modern French Restraunt Parading as a Desent Asian Restraunt EVER!. I went here to eat the first time around New Years. I entered to a smell of moldy fish guts coming from the kitchen area. I was seated near the kitchen . I ordered the house special recommended by the waiter. She described it as an Asian stir fried fish. Yummy I thought until this deep fried whole fish comes flying at me with cloudy eyes and a shocked expression on it's face. It was placed in front of me and I confronted my waiter about her explanation of the dish. She shrugged and told me quite simply "it was not her responsibility." OK I sighed lets eat it then. I scrapped the horribly mushy and seriously over cooked fish off the bone into the pool of sauce,eggplant, and rice. I've never gagged while eating, but that fish was gross. I pushed the dish aside and thought well lets try something else...just as I was viewing my menu having learned my waiters responsiblities this black hair rather dirty wearing a chef comes out to my table and asks how my dish was..I told him I though it was over done and the explanation of it was wrong. He chuckled and thanked me . As he returned to the kitchen I heared him yell "They loved it! Said it was the best fish ever!" I was shocked. My comp. dish arrived as spoiled scallops with the legs of a critter. I asked for the check and was horrified $89.00 for a soda and two dishes? I asked my waiter and she gave me a nasty look and said she'd get the manager if I didn't pay my bill...que the black haired chef only now he's drunk and in a bright green hoodie. He loudly announced that he'd give me free sushi. I said no thank you I'm ready to leave. One minutes later here comes a roll of sushi. He stares at me until I eat the sushi. I to this day have not had worse sushi , but the tuna was streaked with dark from the vein and the rice was crunchy and the nori was stale. I threw down the exact amount for the bill and ran. Don't be fooled this place should be avoided. It's over priced and the specials are not Asian at all! Gross!
Went with my girlfriend to eat sushi during their happy hour.
It was taking a while for us to get our food, so the bartender gave my girlfriend a drink on the house for the inconvenience.
It was great sushi, the best I've had. I am not a sushi expert, but I was very pleased.
It's worth a shot!
Unique and Tasty Sushi. Took a first date to Imperia Saturday night hoping to impress, and thanks to the great sushi and accomadating service, I did. Sat at the bar while waiting for my date and was helped by very nice blond who didn't get snippy when I didn't like the lily martini. Sat down at table (which is my only gripe- the tiny tables are too close togther). Our waitress, who I'd had one time before and both times put m date to shame (the bevy of beautiful blonds at this place is reason by it self to come back, especially her), was very patient and answered our sushi questions in depth. Everything she recommended was delicious, especially the chipotle sushi with lemon. When my high maintenance date wanted brown sugar for her tea, the waitress (lindsay?) even ran across the street to another restaurant to get it for her. Phenomenal service, unique and very tasty sushi will keep me coming back.
Tasty and Chic.
I was not planning on writing a review of Imperia, but the poster immediately preceding this one made me feel the need to stick up for one of my favorite restaurants. I've been in a few times, and usually rely on my server for recommendations, because the menu has a few less-than-stellar items. That said, the seabass in either form (dim sum or entree) is delicious-- a decadent texture and a nuanced flavor. Other items that I've enjoyed include the dragon rib (a giant braised beef short rib), the Peking duck (for which one doesn't have to call ahead; a rarity), the chicken dumplings, the samosas, the eggplant, the jade salad, and several others that I'm forgetting.
I agree with the aforementioned poster that the chicken satay is forgettable, though I really haven't found a decent chicken satay in Austin. I'd add that there are a couple of other dishes that I wouldn't order again-- namely the Korean ribeye and the wok lobster, but the number of items I've enjoyed vastly outnumber those that I wouldn't return for.
One last note-- I can't think of an Asian restaurant that serves bread. The comment (found in the review below) begs the question: Have you seen Garden State? Also, I like the service at Imperia, although that's probably aided by the fact that I would label servers as people before I would label them as servers.
Imperia is a great restaurant that's completely worth visiting. The food, atmosphere, and service are generally exceptional, and I'll gladly keep returning.
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