THE SCENE: It’s 2pm on Tuesday, the tail end of lunch and Queensway in a kind of no-man’s land between chi chi West London and Paddington Station - it does not feel like the most happening place on earth. That is until you get through the doors of Royal China.
The original branch of the legendary Chinese food empire, is buzzing on what’s normally a winding down time for restaurants. The clientele is intriguing; a mixture of families, a tourist or two, businessmen and some ladies who lunch but with serious appetites.
Most people are ordering dim sum and there’s the constant to-ing and fro-ing of fully laden trays, some carrying old favourites, others brimming with the unfamiliar. I can’t wait to dig in.
BBQ Pork @ Royal China
THE GRUB: Royal China’s dim sum is its calling card, so it would have been rude not to have given the menu a proper going through. We ordered with happy abandon, starting with some beautifully succulent aromatic duck steamed buns, scallop dumplings and sesame prawn rolls and moving on to honey roast pork puffs, prawn cheung fun and turnip cake with cured meats. It was all well seasoned and surprisingly dainty but the real standouts were the prawn cheung fun, steamed rice rolls wrapped around succulent prawns. Simple but perfectly balanced.
Convincing ourselves we could squeeze in another course we went renegade, ordering mixed vegetables and noodles with barbecued pork loin. The pork came with a side order of broth which transformed it into a tangy, meaty, soupy delight. It was possibly a step too far and we couldn’t eat again until Thursday, but to hell with it, it was great.
BILL PLEASE: Dim sum prices are par for the course, coming in at the £3-£5 for a very decent portion. Budget for around 6-8 to share depending on how hungry you are and how much discipline you have. The barbecue pork noodles were a very reasonable £8 and if you’re having this as well as dim sum, one between two is definitely sufficient.
VERDICT: An established restaurant worth its reputation, it feels like a special occasion, even on a late Tuesday lunch time.