The opening of Grand Imperial Iberico House at First World Plaza in Genting Highlands, Pahang, saw the likes of lobsters and scallops as starters on their dinner menu.
But it was the baked barbecued Iberico pork buns that got the most praise from diners.
“We loved the buns’ crisp outer texture and soft, tasty filling,” said several guests who came to congratulate Grand Imperial Group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Wong Nam Loong at the opening ceremony.
Located just beside the Grand Imperial London Duck outlet that got its namesake from the group’s signature dish, Iberico House began operations in October.
The new outlet has been touted as the first of its kind to serve premium meat from the Black Iberian pig in their hot pot and in popular dim sum dishes like siew mai, chee cheong fun and glutinous rice.
Diners will also find Iberico ribs grilled in either truffle or red wine.
They also have char siew served with a honey sauce.
It was almost full house at the 250-capacity outlet as a total of 16 tables were taken up for the opening dinner set menu.
Priced at RM3,888 nett for 10 people, it included a bottle of Hennessy XO and a seven-course meal.
Among those who attended were suppliers and partners who had worked with the restaurant group since its establishment in 2008.
Dinner guests said they also enjoyed the well-marinated Iberico ribs as well as the steamed giant grouper with slices of Iberico fillet and XO sauce.
By the time dessert was served, waiters were seen hurrying to tables with takeaway containers as many guests were too full to take another bite.
So the steamed buns filled with custard cream and salted egg yolk ended up following some diners home.
But a few still managed to get a taste of the baked egg tarts with its citrus-flavoured topping.
At a press conference, Wong said future plans for the restaurant group included renovating its older outlets to give them a fresh new look.
The group also plans to open two more establishments, one at Setia City Mall measuring 2,044sq m in Shah Alam and another at Pavilion Damansara in Damansara Heights, measuring 1,859sq m.
“The Chinese banquet market in Klang Valley remains largely underserved.
“Though there are beautiful venues offering such services, the food may not meet expectations.
“The banqueting concept at Grand Imperial aims to give diners a good banqueting experience at half the price but double the joy.
“This is in line with our theme, ‘Delighting our customers’,” said Wong.
Besides expansion plans, he was also determined to preserve the integrity of the group’s food quality by enhancing hygiene standards to ensure its continuous relationship with reputable suppliers.
The Grand Imperial group presently has a total of nine outlets in the Klang Valley as well as Genting Highlands in Pahang.
Wong said his buying into the group was part of his plan for his food and beverage business to become a public-listed company in four years’ time.
He is also in the midst of setting up a training kitchen at its group headquarters at Phileo Damansara in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, for the purpose of providing in-house coaching for its second and third rank chefs.
“It will be akin to a cooking academy where our staff and guests can taste and grade the food,” he said.
The training kitchen would be open to young people who are passionate about Chinese cooking and trainees would be guaranteed jobs within the group, he added.
Wong, a veteran in the food and beverage industry, also owns the Esquire Kitchen chain of restaurants.
He acquired the Grand Imperial group of restaurants in 2021.
Present with Wong at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were his wife, Datin Jenny Cheong, family members, relatives and friends.
A dinner guest, John Yong, said he did not mind the long drive up the hill station to support his buddy’s new venture.
“I have been to all of his restaurants and have enjoyed the hospitable service at each one.
“The opening of this new outlet is timely and I am looking forward to many more to come,” said Yong.