I went to Royal China last Sunday on 27th December 09 and was a bit surprised to find the place with no queue at 1pm. On the one hand, I was pleased that I would not have to wait for a table (RC does not take bookings for dim sum at weekends), but on the other, I felt that it lacked the crazy and vibrant atmosphere seen at the weekends.
Staff were also rather uninterested, looking tired and sometimes being almost brusque. I was surprised to experience this considering RC charges 12.5% for service charges, and the level of service is usually good.
The most successful dim sum dishes we ordered were:
“Pork and Radish Dumplings” @ £2.65 – I love white radish (daikon), and the addition of peanuts makes this one of my favourite dumplings.
“Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf” @ £3.50 – with a delicious filling of chicken and mushrooms, encased in sticky rice, and wrapped up in lotus leaves, this steamed dim sum is stodgy but well flavoured.
“Royal China Cheung Fun” @ £3.60 – I normally order the prawn version but as a friend wanted to try the beef cheung fun, we opted for this dish which contains one of each, prawn, beef and char siu pork. As usual, the cheung fun wrapper was delicate, silken and contrasted beautifully with the meaty fillings.
“Ho Fun Noodles with Pork and Enoki Mushrooms” @ £8 – I hardly ever have noodles with my dim sum, however I was glad that we order it. It was an excellent dish and accompanied our other dim sum choices well.
“Baked Seafood Rice with Creamy Portuguese Sauce” @ £9.60 – I haven’t yet discovered what this yellow creamy sauce is made from but it is utterly scrumptious, to the point that I dream about it. Meaty scallops, prawns, squid and fish are mixed with egg fried rice and topped with the creamy Portuguese sauce. A “must” on any visits to RC Queensway.
The less successful dim sum dishes we ordered were:
“Roast Pork Bun” @ £2.65 – I love this and, as with Cheung Fun and Seafood Rice, order them on every visit. This time, the dumplings had considerably shrunk in size and the char siu pork filling was rather ungenerous.
“Yam Paste & Pork Dumplings” @ £2.65 – I ordered this in error (I had meant to order the pan fried turnip paste with dried meats which is sensational) and unluckily they were rather greasy and nothing special.
“Fried Mixed Meat Dumpling” @ £2.65 – again this was slightly greasy and lacking in filling. I struggle to find anything positive to comment on this one.
“Roast Pork Puff” @ £2.65 - I normally enjoy these triangular beauties similar to Brazilian & Portuguese snacks, but unfortunately this was another disappointing choice as the puffs were served stone cold and tasted a bit tired.
I normally come out of RC feeling really pleased with the food and overall experience. I have to admit that on this occasion, I was disappointed as some of the dishes were not as good as previously and the staff had a tired and unfriendly look about them.
I still enjoyed the Baked Seafood Rice, the Cheung Fun and a couple of other steamed dumplings though so I hope that coming 2010, RC will pick up again and standards will go back to where they were.
The total bill came to £74.40 including service and Chinese tea for 4 people @ £1.20 per person. At £18.60 per person I believe this is still a good value meal in London.
Verdict – Variable quality dim sum and unfriendly staff made my latest visit to Royal China a disappointing one. Some star dishes and very reasonable prices warrant a “revisit” which I will report in the very near future.