Located on soulless Baker Street, the Royal China Club (RCC) is one of the many fashionable restaurants that seem to be livening up an otherwise lacklustre street.
Part of the Royal China Group of restaurants, the Royal China Club was opened as the group’s answer to the challenge set by upmarket dim sum eateries like Hakkasan and Yauatcha, with menu prices to match.
Accompanying me on the day were Dr G and Mr Noodles who politely accepted our impromtu invitation to dim sum. The restaurant has an elegant feel with large tanks filled with lobsters and other crustacea dominating its entrance.
As well as the standard dim sum dishes the menu also contained some unusual choices like the delicious “Pan fried fillet of duck breast” @ £4.60, served in large slices on a hot sizzling plate.
Another unusual but flavoursome dish was the “Fillet of sea bass wrap” @ £4.60. Beautifully presented, the dish consisted of fillets of sea bass wrapped around crunchy vegetables in a spicy broth.
The “Shanghai pork and crab dumplings” @ £4.20 were also good, holding a fair amount of concentrated broth in a fine, translucent skin.
One of my favourite dim sum dishes is “Prawn and yellow chive dumplings” @ £3.90. I was pleased to find RCC’s dumplings to be excellent – the morsels were bursting with a generous amount of filling, they tasted fresh and had a delicious herby/garlicky flavour from the chives.
The “Bamboo pith and prawn dumpling” (har gow) @ £3.90 were beautifully pleated, and well cooked – the skin had a slightly chewy/sticky texture which is the sign of a well made har gow.
“Lobster dumpling with rice wine sauce” @ £8 was a let-down in both execution and flavour. The delicate meat was completely overwhelmed by the other ingredients, and at £8, we all felt it was overpriced.
Onto more familiar grounds, I felt that the “Baked char siu pork puff” @ £3.60 were as good as I hoped they would be. I love these puffs, and nearly always order them for dim sum. They remind me of Brazilian/Portuguese “Empadinhas” (although in our version we use prawn or chicken and sometimes palm hearts). The pastry was deliciously buttery and flaky holding the delectable and sweet char siu pork filling.
One of the most interesting dishes was the “Glutinous rice omelette with duck” @ £5. Similar to the more ubiquitous “glutinous rice in lotus leaf”, RCC’s version was novel with a thin outer layer of fried egg, and tasted delicious.
Another traditional dim sum given the RCC revamp was the “Sesame paper prawn with mango“@ £3.80. The sweet mango worked surprisingly well with the combination of prawns and coriander, giving a real lift to the dish.
Cheung fun is a “must-have” in any dim sum meal and so we ordered “Veal cheung fun” and “Dover sole cheung fun” both at @ £4.20. Despite the novel presentation, I felt both dishes were rather disappointing – in my opinion cheung fun is all about the different textures (and flavour), and I did not feel these types of meat and fish worked well against the silken rice wrappers.
The biggest disappointment however was the “Braised E-fu noodles with soya sauce” @ £9.50. The noodles were mushy and sat in an indiscernible brown sauce with little, if any, flavour.
The saving grace to a “hit-and-miss” lunch was our dessert – “Coconut moss dumplings with black sesame seed” @ £3.90. The black filling was gloriously nutty contrasting well with a delicate coconut flavoured wrapper.
To accompany our dim sum dishes we had a pot of “Tieguanyin” oolong tea (also known as Iron Goddess of Mercy) @ £4.80 which was delicately flowery and very refreshing. The tea pot was regularly topped up with freshly boiled water without us needing to ask for it.
Cost: £81.40 including 12.5% service or £27 per person.
Likes: excellent prawn and chive dumplings and glutinous rice omelette with duck dshes, novel presentation, attentive and polite service.
Dislikes: higher than average prices, some of the dishes were ambitious but did not quite deliver like the lobster dumpling and veal cheung fun.
Verdict: Good quality dim sum restaurant with high aspirations but lacking in consistency. Higher than average prices, excellent service, and elegant setting. Given the high prices and inconsistent cooking, I would rather spend an extra few pounds and go to Hakkasan. Despite this, I would still recommend RCC over the nearby Phoenix Palace where cheaper prices go hand in hand with poor quality dim sum and rude service.