Finding Peace in the Gourmet Ghetto

Bay Area foodie reviews Imperial Tea Court

Located in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, Imperial Tea Court can be easy to miss. Tucked away above a Asian-themed garden, the restaurant provides a welcome refuge from busy Shattuck Street. I ate here one late morning weekend, right as they were opening for lunch.

As their name suggests, Imperial Tea Court’s emphasis is on tea. While perusing their menu, I ordered a cup of Superior Yunnan Tea, and the server patiently showed me how to properly allow my cup to steep, while I ordered my lunch.

The tea was excellent, with a gentle aroma and sweet taste. A small pot of hot water allowed me to enjoy ample refills.

For lunch, I started with the chicken potstickers:

I was initially apprehensive about these since, well, chicken potstickers are usually so run of the mill. But these had a wonderfully thin and crispy wrapper and were filled with a juicy and delicate meat filling. It was hands down my favorite part of the meal.

Since it was a chilly day, I had also ordered the hand-pulled noodles in broth:

See those pepper flakes? I removed most of them before mixing my bowl and it was still almost too hot to bear. Despite the heat, the noodles were chewy and had a great texture, even if I was a little disappointed by the greens taking up most of the bowl. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my greens, but I love my noodles even more.)

Service is slow at the Imperial Tea Court, at least when I visited, so make sure you’re not too famished before dropping by. If you’re looking for a break from the crowded streets and good cup of tea though, then Imperial Tea Court is the place to go.

Mariam Hosseini is a Bay Area native who has been writing about food and travel for six years. She blogs regularly at


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