Imperial Cuisine’s titular soup has a mahogany-colored beef broth, wafting a lovely aroma of star anise. It’s a soup I give a long look before diving in. The way the broth has tinted the hand-pulled noodles like a strong, dark tea. And the welcome details continue. The way star anise has enchantingly permeated the tender beef cubes. The way the bok choy coils in the broth, landing there from a sieve that has plucked it from blanching water seconds before. The way the slight unevenness in the noodle strands tell you they’re made to order by the noodle master who turns noodle-making into an elaborate theater.
Never would I come to Imperial Cuisine without ordering noodles slapped and twirled and ribboned by Charlie Zhang. And when I come, I want to see them drinking up the depth of the Imperial soup’s mahogany broth. I want to admire its skating scallions and shimmering surface.