When I worked in PR I once held a small press event for a Chinese brand we looked after at China Tang, the posh Chinese restaurant within The Dorchester that Kate Moss is known to frequent. The journalists in attendance insisted on quizzing my native Hong Kong client as to where the best Chinese food in London can be found, which embarrassingly enough, she believed to be at Royal China in Queensway, and not our chosen location. Giles Coren, Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsey apparently all agree with my client and seeing as I thought that China Tang was actualy pretty good, my hopes were high when I was invited to sample the dim sum menu at Royal China itself.
The PR girls tell me that on a Sunday there are queues down the street (dim sum is traditionally eaten on a Sunday and generally in the daytime, not evenings) and I can easily believe it as we had failed to get a Thursday lunchtime table at the Canary Wharf outpost and the original Queensway restaurant was also bustling. It seems that Royal China's reputation as the most authentic Chinese in town is well known; and with a menu including such delicacies as chicken's feet, it's not a surprise.
I'm a huge fan of dim sum: somehow eating little snippets of different tasty things never feels as naughty as scarfing down a huge meal and so we ordered away with gusto. Above, left to right, you can see Minced Squid Balls (fine, but you wouldn't know they were squid); Sesame Prawn Rolls (truly excellent and oceans apart from the usual flabby sesame prawn toast) and Honey Pork Cheung Fun (lovely, light and gently sweet). Steamed prawn and chive dumplings, unfortunately not shown, had a remarkable freshness thanks to the sheer amounts of allium flavour.
There was also some light as air roast pork buns that could have given Flesh & Buns a run for their money.
For pudding there was chilled tapioca, which is those odd starchy little beads topped off with some indulgently creamy froth:
And then, unbelievably, even more buns. These are filled with sweet lotus paste - kind of fruity and sesamey-y:
We washed the lot down with Chinese tea and cocktails involving lychee and champagne, which felt very illicit on a weekday lunchtime, but it was a birthday so was definitely ok.
The bill* was a very reasonable £60ish for two. I'd gladly pay that many times over for the lovely welcome we received despite arriving unannounced with two buggies. The babies were fawned over throughout and every one of the staff was utterly charming, so big baby friendly ticks all round.
Leo flirting unashamedly with the staff:
*If we'd paid. This lunch was kindly arranged by Royal China's PR company and was complimentary.
P.S. Look out for an easy to recreate dim sum recipe you can do at home from one of the Royal China chefs - coming soon for Chinese New Year