Restaurant Review: The Royal China, Queensway in London
The Royal China restaurant in Queensway is where, according to its website, it all began. It’s the founder branch of what now seems a global empire, with further eateries across London (Baker Street, Canary Wharf, Harrow and Fulham) as well as Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong.
There are a plethora of Chinese restaurants along Queensway, enticing diners with irresistible looking crispy ducks hanging in the windows, but Royal China is the one where everyone wants to eat. It’s the Dim Sum that’s most popular – with the restaurant boasting that even the Chinese community agree it surpasses those found in Hong Kong itself.
With it’s fantastic reputation I was sure it would stand out on the street, but blink and you may miss the place. Deceptively small from the outside, it seems to blend in with its surroundings but you only have to look at the doors to know you’re somewhere special. A whole host of accolades jostle for position on the glass – Square Meal 2015, Timeout Eating and Drinking 2014, and even Zagat 2013/14.
I booked in for a Wednesday evening for me and my friend. Despite it being the middle of the week and nowhere near payday, the place was busy. It’s possibly a good idea to book – I have since read some online grumblings from disgruntled would-be diners who couldn’t even get through the front door.
Once inside you realise just how big the place is. It has a traditional oriental feel with jet black glossy walls decorated with golden birds and waves. Everything matched – the waiters were smart in dark suits and the waitresses wore gold cheongsam style tops.
On being seated we were presented with no less than four different menus. I hungrily scanned each for the renowned Dim Sum but it wasn’t there. When I asked the waiter, he said they didn’t do it in the evenings. My heart sank. I later discovered it’s Chinese tradition not to serve the dish after 5pm so bear that in mind next time you’re offered Dim Sum in the evening; it’s not ‘authentic’, much like choosing paella for dinner in Spain and immediately making it known you’re one of those pesky tourists.
Instead of re-reading all the menus and frazzling my brain over the enormous amount of choice, I asked the waiter for his recommendations and this is what he said…
To start we had a delicious plate of perfectly crispy fried squid (£6.80) with the traditional quarter of crispy duck (£14) The duck was brought to the table whole but then expertly chopped up by a waitress and brought back.
For our mains we had crispy shredded beef in a bird’s nest (£10.50) and veal in a Teriyaki sauce (£14.80) with a side of sauteed pak choi in garlic (£10.80) and ‘Yeung Chow’ fried rice with roasted pork and shrimp (£9.70). All were nice but I still had my mind on steaming Dim Sum.
They were, with exception of the veal, all the ‘classics’ but, with hindsight, I wish I’d been a bit braver, ignored the recommendations, and sampled dishes like the jelly fish tossed with cucumber (£8) or the sliced preserved pork knuckle with jelly fish (£9.20)
All in all, It was a pleasant evening with fast service – despite two big parties arriving – but I wasn’t blown away by the food like I hoped I would be. Next time I’ll go back before 5pm.
Address: 13 Queensway, London W2 4QJ