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Dim Sum at Royal China Queensway

This has been one of our favourite dim sum places in London for the longest time. It was one of the first Chinese restaurants that started serving dim sum in a nicer environment and with better service than the brusque approach in most Chinatown places.

Royal China in Queensway has a very big dining room, with space for many family sized round tables, each with their own lazy susans. The walls are lined with black lacquer screens which is their signature look that is replicated across the chain.

Royal China Queensway Dim Sum

I was there with my friend Fiona to review their dim sum menu which they serve daily. For those who are not too familiar with dim sum and how to order, they have pictures on their menus that help. Fiona asked me to order and this is what we had.

Dim sum being a Cantonese tradition, we had to have a soup as they do make really good soups- a nourishing Seafood coriander soup. As customary, we also ordered a pot of Oolong tea to go with our lunch.

Seafood Coriander Soup

Seafood Coriander Soup

Followed by an appetiser portion of crispy soft shell crab.

crispy soft shell crab

Crispy soft shell crab

We had an array of dim sum, most were done well but I found that the cheung fun was not fine enough nor was the skin of the Shanghai dumplings. It does take a very skilled dim sum chef to execute these dumplings perfectly and unfortunately in London we don’t seem to have many that are trained. Besides this, everything else was delightful.

I did like their variation on crispy duck with their crispy duck rolls.

Royal China Queensway Dim Sum

Prawn Cheung Fun, Crispy duck rolls, spicy dumplings, roast pork puffs, Shanghai Xiao Long Bao

Our other assortment of steamed and fried dim sum dishes arrived including my favourite, the prawn and chive dumplings. Fiona rather gamely tried the chicken’s feet which a lot of other English friends have balked at. It really is an acquired taste as Chinese people like to chew on the bones which is more flavourful, rather than opting for a large chunk of meat.

Royal China Queensway Dim Sum

Prawn and chives dumpling, chicken’s feet, Vietnamese spring rolls

We had lovely dim sum even though we probably ordered too much for two people. Since it was her first dim sum meal in a long time, it would have been wrong not to have a breadth of dishes. One of the comments was that everything came in multiple of 3 and that made it difficult for 2 people dining.

Dim sum always works better in a bigger crowd as you can order more varieties.  On the weekends, they serve a few more special dishes than the menu we had. Dishes like crispy suckling pig is available as a dim sum dish and if you see it on the menu when you visit, you should try it. Don’t forget to get there early on the weekends to beat the crowds.

Royal China Queensway
13 Queensway
London
W2 4QJ
020 7221 2535

 

Royal China on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Eat Cook Explore was a guest of Royal China

Grand Imperial Victoria – express lunches

The Grand Imperial Chinese Restaurant launched last year to great fanfare. It’s housed in a corner of the Grosvenor Hotel in Victoria, one of the grand old railway hotels. There are 2 entrances, either via Victoria Station or by a side entrance next to the bus station. They have transformed the high ceilinged rooms into an elegant contempary dining room with a section partitioned off for a private dining room.

Grand Imperial Chinese Restaurant Victoria

This restaurant is part the same family as the Grand Imperial from Kuala Lumpur. They even shipped over their executive chef to head up the kitchen. He has since been replaced at the beginning of this year with a chef from Hong Kong.

On the day we landed here for lunch we were hoping for some dim sum but the dim sum kitchen was closed and they had a one week old dim sum chef who was not up to speed yet.

We ended up opting for the Express Lunch menu. There was a choice of several starters, noodles or rice dish and a pudding. At £12.80 or £16 for 2 or 3 courses respectively, quite a good deal. On the ala carte menu, couldn’t help but notice some nouveau Chinese dishes like Stir Fried Lobster with Foie Gras. Hmmm?

The dining room was not very busy, even for a Friday lunch service. I guess people either don’t know that they exist or they haven’t endeared themselves too well to the neighbouring office workers. This part of Victoria is not exactly brimming with decent places to eat.

For starters, we had the dim sum platter,  4 pieces of very average dim sum. Not terribly refined as I expected.  I had heard good thing but I guess the new chef was not in charge yet.We also had the double boiled chicken soup with wolfberries. Nice clear soup as only the Cantonese can do really well.

Grand Imperial Chinese Restaurant Victoria

For mains, there were several choices of noodle and rice dishes. I had the Singapore noodle, sans curry powder. The portions were enormous, the noodles were too greasy.

Grand Imperial Chinese Restaurant Victoria

For pudding there were 2 choices, green tea creme brulee or strawberry lychee pudding. I had the creme brulee which was very thick and heavy. Really not the right texture for creme brulee, had a couple of spoonfuls and left it. Wasn’t worth the calories.

Grand Imperial Chinese Restaurant Victoria Green Tea Creme Brulee

The service was very attentive although they did get our tea order wrong. They did try.

Not the best Chinese meal and did not live up the the expectations nor the decor of the place and on the whole thge food was not much better than the local takeaway.How unfortunate as I was really wanting to like it and to find somewhere new in London with decent Cantonese food. Maybe dishes from the ala carte menu might have been better.

Grand Imperial

101 Buckingham Palace Road

London, UK SW1W

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Dim Sum at Golden Dragon

Dim Sum or sometimes called Yum Cha is originally a Cantonese snack which has now been raised to be a full blown meal. Dim sum was usually served as a breakfast or brunch over a leisurely pot of tea, hence the Yum Cha which is to drink tea. One would have just one small dish at a time, slowly whiling away the morning, reading the paper. Dim Sum today is a noisy hurried meal with a whole table laden with almost the entire dim sum menu of a restaurant.

In Hong Kong and parts of Asia, some larger dim sum restaurants would serve dim sum from heated carts where you can pick the dishes fresh from the kitchen as they come around your table. In London, the New World Restaurant still does this but the food is really is inedible.

As much of the original Chinese immigrants to London who opened restaurants in Chinatown were from Southern China or Hakka or Cantonese origin. They brought along some expertise in cooking and some respectable dim sum places opened up in London. Dim Sum chefs are usually quite well trained as it requires a lot of skill to make the skins and wraps thin enough to make fine dim sum. Nowadays, much of the dim sum places in Chinatown serve warmed up frozen dim sum.

Golden Dragon is one of the better ones in Chinatown for dim sum. We regularly meet here on Sundays where you see a lot of big groups of Chinese families. If you are visiting London, don’t expect dim sum to the standards of Hong Kong or Vancouver.

What to order at a Dim Sum restaurant?
Some of my non Chinese friends and some twitter friends have asked me for a list of what to order as they can never get the same things when I don’t order for them so here goes. We usually have a mixture of steamed dishes, dumplings and fried dishes.

XO Sauce Cheung Fun

XO Sauce Cheung Fun

Cheung fun is a steamed rice noodle and is sometimes filled with either prawns, roast pork, beef, scallop or a fried dough stick. All quite delicious.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Har Gau Prawn Dumpling

Har Gau Prawn Dumpling

Stewed Tripe

Stewed Tripe

I might give this a miss if you don’t like offal.

Glutinous Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf

Glutinous Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaf

This is glutinous rice with some meat, chinese sausages and mushrooms. Just unwrap the parcel and dig in.

Roast Pork Puffs and Yam Croquettes

Roast Pork Puffs and Yam Croquettes

There are other fried dishes like prawn toast and spring rolls, or the pan fried radish cake,  the varieties are endless.

Prawn and Chives Dumpling

Prawn and Chives Dumpling

There are quite a few more dishes that are on the steamed menu like beef balls, spare ribs, chicken feet, vegetarian dumplings and snails.

Salted Fish and Chicken Claypot Rice

Salted Fish and Chicken Claypot Rice

This is a very fragrant rice dish which I want to introduce to my Brazillian friends who recently fed me several delicious salt cod dishes. They might like the Chinese salted fish dishes too.

Sometimes instead of a rice dish, we order some fried noodles or a soup noodle like Rice Vermicelli with Shredded Duck and Snow Vegetables in Soup.

Crispy Suckling Pig and Roast Duck

Crispy Suckling Pig and Roast Duck

Do try the suckling pig as the skin is super crispy with a plum sauce dip.

Stir Fried Pea Shoots

Stir Fried Pea Shoots

We always order a vegetable dish as well and do ask them what veg they have on that day. This is not on the menu usually.

For pudding, most restaurants don’t have many choices but sometimes have desserts that are off the menu like red bean soup or Tau Fu Fa which is a soft soya bean jelly served sweet.

Mango Pudding

Mango Pudding

Mango pudding has a jelly like consitency and curiously served swimming in evaporated milk. Not my favourite.

Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls

Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls

If you have never tried these, you should try to order them. Make sure you tell them before the end of your meal as it takes about 20 minutes to make. These are made with glutinous rice flour and filled with a black sesame paste which oozes when you bite into it. Sometimes comes rolled in crushed peanuts of coconut (non traditional). Not many places do this but you can try it here.

Other Dim Sum Restaurants in London

Gerrards Corner – Best dish is the stir fried radish cake

Royal China Bayswater, Bake St – Very average and expensive for what it is

Plum Valley – Very expensive and not very good food, very expensive tea

Superstar – Surprisingly, not bad

Yauatcha – higher quality and much more expensive dim sum

Phoenix Palace – Busy but really not very good dim sum

Min Jiang – Totally overpriced but I guess you are paying for the view over Hyde Park

Pearl Liang – Not bad for West London, nice decor, decent service

Royal China Putney – Not part of the Royal China group, good dim sum, better than most in London and well worth the trek out there.

Places to avoid – Ping Pong, New World, Chuen Cheng Ku

Golden Dragon may not serve the most refined dim sum and the service is the typlical nonchalant Chinatown restaurant service but the dim sum is quite decent by London standards and the prices are very reasonable. Your meal should not cost more than £15 per person, (not including any drinks).

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