HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Discussion

Royal East, Kentral Cambridge?

Anything in particular worth ordering here? Off-menu items? I'm going to a wine dinner here in a couple of weeks. It would be nice if the food lived up to the wines, which should be outstanding (champagne, white burgs, German rieslings...). So help me out... I don't think the guy who is organizing it knows anything about Chinese cuisine.

I don't think I've actually ever been to RE for dinner, although >6 years ago I used to eat there occasionally for lunch when I worked in Central Sq. The only dish I can actually remember was a sweet & sour chicken stuffed with diced water chestnuts. Now, as a matter of principle, I never order anything sweet & sour, but there was something about the crunchy surprise hidden in the middle that made at least this dish interesting.

-----
Royal East Restaurant
792 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Sorry, no. Although the menu promises a bit more than the average American Chinese place, the food is all prepared in a bland, overly-sauced sort of style. Not too different from the old Chef Chang's, actually.

    This is based on a few group dinners there over the last few years. It's not terrible food, it's just not really good at all.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Luther

      You are right that it is not stone cold terrible, but it is kind of amazing how broad their menu is, and yet how similar all the dishes taste...

    2. I'll add a second no, in case Luther's wasn't enough.

      3 Replies
      1. re: kobuta

        Third, blech, used to work near there.

        1. re: StriperGuy

          I kinda suspected as much. Oh well, at least the wines will be good.

          1. re: Tir_na_nOg

            if you must eat there, try ordering the crystal shrimp, and maybe pea vines (but avoid the duck)

      2. They have a specials board that can be OK. I recall hearing you can pre-order some things. No personal experience with this, but it's worth a shot.

        1. It has its fans, but I think Royal East is dreadful. They're not above using frozen peas-and-carrots in some dishes.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          -----
          Royal East Restaurant
          792 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

          3 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Though I generally agree that the food is of average quality, especially when ordering traditional americanized chinese food, I have attended several quite good banquets here in the past. These have been organized by someone who is a friend of the owner, so it is possible that explains the improved quality of food.

            I think they are better at seafood than other things. I don't remember all the things we had, but I remember the salt and pepper shrimp and scallops being quite good, and as of a few weeks ago they had soft shell crabs which were also tasty. Pea tendrils are good too as barleywino says.

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              It always baffles me that some people are fans of this place --- I've never had anything at all good there. Indeed, it was all very bland, even when I'd attend banquets there organized by the Harvard University Asia Center and the Fairbank Center a few years ago. However, they appear to have a special order item --- Crispy Aromatic Squab, to be ordered a day in advance. Maybe you could arrange to give that a try?

            2. I've had a fried tofu and vegetable lunch special there I thought was yummy--crispy, melting tofu, wide range of veggies, generous portion--far better than lunch at any of the other Chinese places in Central Square.

              6 Replies
              1. re: femmevox

                Have you tried Mulan, Thailand Cafe or Mary Chung? Mary Chung isn't great, but I'd prefer it over Royal East anyday. Mulan has wonderful, very homestyle Taiwanese food that's miles away from Royal East. Thailand Cafe has some terrific Sichuan dishes (just avoid the execrable Thai food!)

                1. re: lipoff

                  If someone thinks Royal East is in any way "better" than MuLan or Thailand Cafe they are not to be taken seriously. I mean, c'mon.

                  -----
                  Royal East Restaurant
                  792 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  MuLan
                  228 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1. re: Luther

                    I'm a huge Mulan fan, I haven't been in WAY too long.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I have to agree about Mulan. Ever since I first went to Mulan a few months ago (via Chowhound), I love gong back.

                  2. re: lipoff

                    I haven't been to Mulan (it's not really in Central Square). I HAVE been to Mary Chung and it is awful--sloppily cooked food falling off the plates. And the dragon lady proprietress always pressing patrons to spend more money.

                    I eat lunches at the weirdly named PuPu Hot Pot, too--dessicated little slabs of spicy tofu tossed around with raw broccoli.

                    I'll stick by it--for veggie lunches, Royal East was the most generous and appealing of those three.

                    Looking forward to Mulan when I have a chance and am near it.

                    -----
                    Mary Chung Restaurant
                    460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    Royal East Restaurant
                    792 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1. re: femmevox

                      I've eaten at Mary Chung many, many, many times over the years and not once can I think of a situation where the "dragon lady proprietress" has ever pressed me to spend more money.

                      -----
                      Mary Chung Restaurant
                      460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                2. Years ago I used to go to Royal East fairly often. Loved the sizzling beef in black pepper sauce. Other than that it's not so hot. It really seemed to go downhill. Stopped going after being treated really poorly one night. The staff proceed to move every table in the place and drag all the chairs around. Our table shook so bad we had to hold down our drinks and plates. When we complained they didn't do a thing. I get can mediocre Chinese plenty of places. Never been back.

                  -----
                  Royal East Restaurant
                  792 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Walthamfoodman

                    What next? The upside of Thai Hut or Cheese Cake Factory? This place is an abomination.

                    -----
                    Thai Hut
                    93 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 02143

                    1. re: baldbert

                      The upside of the Cheesecake Factory are their Sweet corn Tamale Cakes. Whenever I am forced to go there, that's what I have and they are actually really very good.

                      Unfortunately, I'm not sure Thai Hut has an upside . . . other than the amusing name, I don't know if it's the phonetic similarity to Pol Pot or Jabba the Hutt, but the name "Thai Hut" always makes me think of a Southeast Asian strongman.

                  2. It's been ages since I've had it, but Mary Chung does a similar preparation of chicken with water chestnuts -- whole chicken breasts stuffed with a layer of sliced water chestnut, then battered and fried.

                    There are two versions, but the better of them is the Sesame Lemon Chicken, which unlike most American Chinese lemon chicken preps, comes with sliced lemon wedges instead of a thick sauce. (The other is the orange chicken, which is of the thick sauce variety.)

                    1. I'm giving this thread a bump, to ask if there has been any improvement? Eversave has a coupon for them today. Thanks!