Flavors from a Sanctuary - The Bend Magazine

Flavors from a Sanctuary

Three years after a fire closed its doors, Imperial Cafe is better than ever

By: Jessie Monsivais  Photos by: Rachel Benavides

Sang Sananikone and her family have created a window into their Laotian heritage through the art of cuisine, serving local favorite Thai dishes and artful sushi. Since 1999, Sang’s Imperial Café has provided rich, exotic, and exciting flavors from their diverse Pan-Asian menu, a product of the family’s culture and worldly travels. After an electrical fire in 2017 forced the restaurant to shut down, Imperial Café brought its wholesome dining experience back to life, resulting in a fresh menu that rouses our taste buds and invites us into a world-class experience right in our hometown. 

“It’s more than food. It’s healing we offer to everyone that comes in,” says owner Sang Sananikone. “We reopened because we have to listen to our hearts. Speaking from my heart, Imperial is a sanctuary.”

The Asian-modern style of the new restaurant includes artful decor with ornamentation from Laos, their native country where the Sananikone family were among the aristocracy before the Vietnam war. The enjoyable dining experience at Sang’s Imperial Café comes from strong family values and commitment to providing healthy and fresh food in an inviting atmosphere. 

“Our restaurant is an extension of our hearts, and a display of our passion for life. When you’re at Imperial Cafe, you are family,” says Sang.

Imperial Café introduces new dishes that are destined to become local favorites. Go-to meals include Nem, a crunchy Thai rice salad tossed with chicken or tofu, ginger, lime, coconut, onions, and crushed peanuts, served with a side of lettuce. The Salmon Mango Curry features a 7-ounce fried salmon in a famous, savory red curry sauce served with mango, bell pepper, onions, and avocado and topped with a scallion bouquet. As for sushi, Sang recommended the New Style Variety Plate, serving a delicious assortment of sliced fish with an incredible family-recipe sauce. 

Don’t worry, though: The menu still carries old favorites such as Kiss Me, Ginger! – a chicken or beef dish sautéed with bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, and onions in a savory ginger sauce – as well as the Rolls of Honor, a long-standing tradition of the restaurant honoring its patrons by naming sushi rolls after regulars. 

Sang describes Imperial’s signature dishes as “lifetime recipes of mine. Always changing, always growing.” Imperial Café will not only delight your taste buds and fill your belly, but will nourish your heart. “It’s more than just a restaurant, it’s a peaceful sanctuary from this crazy world.”


4650 Corona Dr, Corpus Christi, TX

361.808.8881  |  @ImperialCafe