If you ask the local Chinese community where is the best Chinese restaurant in London? I would guess 90% would say Royal China and the remaining 10% probably doesn’t appreciate Chinese food. The Royal China in Queensway feels like it has been there since the beginning of time, but this is where the magic first happened. Nowadays there have branches throughout the city from Canary Wharf to Baker Street.
Having visited the restaurant many years ago, the decor hasn’t changed too much. They were intuitive enough to know back then that black and gold never goes out of fashion; hence their black and gold lacquer panelled walls theme has remained over the years.
I have a love/hate relationship with the service here: they are not going to chat with you about your problems at work and not even the weather, but they are remarkably efficient. The servers here are permanently gliding around the venue and appears to be working 10 times harder than in any non-Chinese restaurant.
There are different approaches to tackling the menu here: you can either visit during lunchtime and sample their world-famous dim sum selection, which is widely regarded as one of the best in London or their more complex a la carte evening menu. They have improved the menu over the years with an abundance of photos on their newest menus, so you shouldn’t be afraid to try the more unusual Chinese signature dishes like abalone, jellyfish or winter melon soup.
We opted for the safety and convenience of their seafood gourmet set menu. The seafood hors d’oeuvres was well executed if overconcentrated on fried items. Your GP might not approve, but the crispy prawn rolls were so addictively crunchy and tasty, you could be tempted to order another platter.
The star of the evening was undoubtedly the fresh lobster cooked with ginger and spring onion. Quite simply the concentration in flavours can only be achieved by using a wok and from a masterchef who has been practising his wok skills for many years. You would struggle to find a more richly flavoured lobster dish even at restaurants serving a different type of cuisine. The lobsters they have sourced here are full of plump meatiness and vibrant tasting.
It was hard to fault any of the other dishes: the deep-fried dover sole showed their dedication to using the best ingredients with the fish still moist and tender, the mixed seafood in bird’s nest had similarly intense flavours to the lobster dish, no doubt with the help of a sturdy wok and their lotus leaf rice is a must-order signature dish with the rice gently fragrant having been wrapped inside lotus leaves for a considerable amount of time.
Service might be overly business-like, but this is a business that stands the test of time and customers keep coming back for more to enjoy Royal China’s industry-leading Chinese cuisine.