Long renowned for its impeccable dim sum, Royal China has expanded into a mini-chain since launching in 1996, becoming a bastion for traditional steamed dumplings in London. However, on this evening, we were invited to sample the much less discussed a la carte menu at the Baker Street branch, consisting primarily of classic Cantonese dishes.
This extensive menu won’t win any prizes for originality and wouldn’t have looked out of place when the restaurant launched nearly 20 years ago. Sweet & Sour Pork, Cantonese Roast Duck, Crispy Shredded Chicken and all the dishes you would expect to find at any Chinese restaurant across the country, make an appearance on the menu. Having said that, what appears to set Royal China apart is its consistency in executing these dishes well – particularly for such a large menu.
From the selection of dishes we tired, the Ma Po Tofu was the clear standout. This Sichuan dish is made with a combination of Tofu, Spicy Chilli & Shredded Beef, and this version had a very pleasent kick to it. The shredded beef was scarce, but here the tofu takes center stage , with a silk like texture that perfectly compliments the spice. The Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab also impressed – a generous portion of extremely crunchy and flavorsome crab, while Steamed Pork Dumplings were light and perfectly constructed, served in a pool of delicious chilli sauce.
The rest of our dishes, which included Szechuan Prawns and Deep Fried Baby Squid, among others, were good, but none grabbed our attention quite like the aforementioned dishes.
There is little in the innovation of cooking here, but if you are looking for somewhere to enjoy well made Chinese favourites in a nice setting, we recommend a visit to Royal China. For more adventurous Chinese cooking, try the restaurant’s upscale sister, Royal China Club, which is just a few doors down from this branch.
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