The Cantonese Food Coma At Royal China Queensway

26 Aug 2016

London has no shortage of Chinese restaurants, and it can be hard to pick the good from the greasy. Enter Royal China, the group known for dim sum and traditional Cantonese, Hong Kong and regional Chinese dishes.

Now with branches in Baker Street, Bayswater, Fulham, Harrow-on-the-Hill and Canary Wharf, we decided to check out the founder branch in Queensway, frequented by the local Chinese community since it opened in 1996. With strong reviews and a loyal following, we expected big flavour and a more formal setting, and we weren’t disappointed – although skipping a few meals prior would have been a good choice.

For 7pm on a Thursday the venue was quiet, but given its size, it’s possible it would never get a truly buzzy vibe. Set at the back of a long space with no natural lighting, the opulent gold and black décor, tablecloth settings and intricate Chinese wall illustrations make the restaurant appear quite formal, an attitude also appropriated by the staff who took a bit of flagging down throughout the evening.

Not knowing what our stomachs had signed up for, we started with the Prawn & Pork Wonton Soup, £5.80, a delightfully flavourful broth with light melt-in-your-mouth dumplings.

We also opted for the Steamed Chilli Pork Dumplings, £7.20, which ended up being the highlight of the meal – at a restaurant known for its dim sum, it’s not surprising that the dumplings were absolutely perfect, and for those who like a bit of a kick, the Chilli Pork was spicy and bursting with flavour.

Determined to explore each section of the menu (quite a feat with countless pages of meat, vegetarian and seafood dishes), our mains consisted of Szechuan Prawns, £13.80, Chicken with Chilli in ‘Chiu Chow Style’, £11.20, Beef with Cashew Nuts, £10.80, and Specially Prepared Rice with Prawn & Duck, Steamed Wrapped in Lotus Leaf, £10.80. The portion sizes were impressive, the meat and seafood exquisitely cooked and the sauces not too heavy, though our bellies were still absolutely bursting at this point in the meal.

This was all washed down with a refreshing bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Saint Clair Estate New Zealand, £28, the perfect choice when opting for a variety of meat and seafood, textures and flavours.

We couldn’t resist the dessert menu, and finished off an incredibly decadent meal with Apple Slices fried in Toffee Syrup, £6.80, as well as a serving of Pistachio Ice Cream, £5.20.

Though rather sickly full after a marathon of eating, each dish was to die for and truly stood out from the restaurants you’re likely to stumble into in Chinatown. However, in a chain known for its dim sum and after our love of the Chilli Pork Dumplings, I’d suggest testing out the Dim Sum menu which is unlikely to disappoint.

While not the place for an intimate date or a buzzing atmosphere with friends, Royal China is the way to go if you have a Chinese food craving that can only be satisfied with truly authentic dishes and sauces – and you’re willing to spend a little extra to get there. But you might consider skipping dessert.

Alison

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