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Sep 12, 2010 10:14 AM

Dim Sum @ Royal China, Bayswater, London

Superbly ordinary.

Somewhat thick skins on the steamed prawn dumplings/har gau, a shade too mushy in texture, and fairly tasty prawns that were just a tiny bit too soft, and lacked an obvious textural contrast from bamboo shoots.

A nice application of pumpkin to sweeten a modest portion of prawns wrapped in crispy and thin bean curd/tofu skins. Slightly greasy, but ameliorated by the above sweetness.

Fairly good crispy skins on the spring rolls, filled with nice bit of prawn and judicious bits of vegetable. Pretty good, but nothing out of this world.

Black pepper and venison puffs, were somewhat puffy, the pastry fairly flaky and delicate, but not as well articulated as the version at Hakkasan that I had a while ago. Filling was rather sparse, just enough to convey flavour, but insufficient for satisfaction.

Char siu was plain, and ordinary, served over a bed of roasted peanuts instead of these Cantonese style soy nuts. Felt sheepish for ordering it -- Gold Mountain is just down the street.

Are the other branches any better? I remember a few excellent if expensive items at Royal China Club on Baker Street, perhaps that's the flagship now?

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  1. i went once and enjoyed it, but it was quick visit for a snack and i only tried a couple things...i'm actually going there later this week w/ a buddy who lives in the neighborhood and goes there 2+ times/ i'll report back with any additional thoughts...

    Where else do you like for Chinese food in LDN in general?...i had a very very yummy Sichuan meal today at Bar Shu...

    17 Replies
    1. re: Simon

      Love to hear what you enjoyed at Bar Shu. The dishes under the previous chef seemed under powered, but friends tell me that the current chef is pretty good.

      Some places that I've liked include:
      Golden Day for Hunan especially the various smoked meats that they smoke themselves. Local Friends gets an honorable mention for Hunan as well.
      Gold Mountain for Cantonese roast meats.
      Min Jiang and Pearl Liang for dim sum.
      Haozhan for modern Cantonese.
      Royal Palace for hot pot and especially for the lamb and chicken heart skewers.
      My Old Place and Gourmet San for Dongbei cooking.
      No. 10 Chinese restaurant for Sichuan; but a special mention for the lamp shade beef at Empress of Sichuan.

      1. re: limster

        Thanks for these...i'm especially looking forward to trying the Hunan places and going to Royal Palace for hotpot (which i ate a lot in Beijing last winter)...

        When i went to Bar Shu i was solo: i had the tofu skin starter (delicious) and the gong bao prawns: these were succulent and reasonably spicy, though i could have used a bit more heat, even though i made a point asking for "ma la", etc when i ordered...

        i thought the cost of the prawns (18 pounds) was a bit extreme, but it was a very satisfying meal, large portion, etc...outside of the high cost, only two things bothered me: a) they wouldn't give me any extra chili oil for the prawns as they claim they never ever do that because their food is spicy enough the way it is [well, obviously not, since i asked for more chili oil!] and b) i was surprised how small the menu was, as most Sichuan places offer a lot more cold appetizers (unless there was some longer menu that they didn't give me)...i liked it enough that i'll surely return, though i'll be looking for places that cost less and which are willing to provide a very basic Sichuan condiment when asked...

        Despite three food-filled trips to London this past summer, i'm a very new resident here now -- are Royal Palace, N.10 Chinese, and the Hunan places easily accessible from my new 'hood of Clerkenwell?

        1. re: Simon

          None of these 4 places are super close to Clerkenwell, except for Golden Day, which is in Chinatown.

          Royal Palace is close (~5-10min walk) to the Canada Water Tube (Jubilee line), while No.10 is at Earl's Court (District LIne).

          But all in all, they're not too difficult to get to in general.

          1. re: limster

            Cool...i am mobile, so i'll start hitting them...

            If i was going to Chinatown w/ 2 or 3 people, am i better off going to Golden Day or Emperess of Sichuan?

            1. re: Simon

              Depends on whether you prefer Hunan or Sichuan. I think the cooking at Golden Day is better, but it's a bit of an apples to orange comparison.

              1. re: limster

                i like both cuisines, but i lean a bit more towards Sichuan...

                1. re: Simon

                  i'd recommend chilli cool as well, which is closer to clerkenwell i think, if yr not asian then make sure to ask them to make it spicy tho

      2. re: Simon

        ny return trip to Royal China in Bayswater was fine...i agree w/ you that the hargow are slightly underwhelming and need bamboo shoots...but the scallop dumplings were excellent...

        1. re: Simon

          BTW, it should only be a teeny-weeny bit of bamboo shoots, right? Usually, 2 tablespoons of finely minced bamboo shoots to about 1 pound (600 grams) of shrimp.

          1. re: klyeoh

            am going there again today, so will bring a scale and check ;) (joke!)

            klyeoh, good to see you on the London board, as i have enjoyed your recs from the SE Asia you have a London fav for dimsum? (or for Thai?...or Chiu Chow?)...

            1. re: Simon

              Simon, for the UK board, the go-to guy is limster. I read his posts to see where to eat at - which was precisely why I came across this thread.

              I haven't eaten in many Thai restaurants in London, but most which I tried were good, e.g. Nahm (no doubt!), Busaba Eathai, Patara (Knightsbridge), Blue Elephant, Ben's Thai in St John's Woods (been going back there for past 15 years), and Tong Kanom Thai in Kensal Green (just discovered it last Nov).

              The best dim sum I'd had in recent memory in London was at Royal China Club (Baker St), though Hakkasan & Yauatcha were both really good, too.

              I've not found any Chiuchow restaurant of note in London. When my Chiuchow side of the family, maternal uncles & aunts from Singapore, Hong Kong or Bangkok visit London, they inevitably dine at Fung Shing or New Mayflower, our family favorites for decades.

              1. re: klyeoh

                hi klyeoh,

                yes, limster has provided some good lists and i'm looking forward to exploring the ones limster's listed...

                hate to post a negative comment, BUT, i tried Busaba Eathai today per your rec (i'd passed by two of the locations before and written them off on outward appearance), but decided to not "judge a book, etc" and went to the Soho branch was some of worst Thai food i've ever been served in my life (and that's saying a lot)...unless one likes cotten-candy condensed into syrupy+MSG slop, i'd recommend avoiding this place like the plague...i literally couldn't eat more than a half bite opf the two things i ordered...i asked for the check, tipped my very nice Italian waitress well, and FLED, never ever to return...

                I've yet to have even mediocre Thai food in London...but according the Thai people i've met, i have to go to Thai 101/Roi-Et (and according to them, there is nothing edible in Central London -- i'd wish otherwise, but so far everything central is vile)...


                1. re: Simon

                  For dimsum, I would have to say that Hakkasan and Yauatcha are experience destinations but I typically go to Pearl Liang or Royal China Club. The other Royal China branches seem to be slipping in their standards both in terms of ingredients and execution. Still have to try Phoenix Palace though...

                  1. re: Simon

                    Shocking! I'd give feedback to the owner, or find out how its standards could have descended this low. That's the problem with chains, I guess - inconsistent standards between one branch & another.

                    Can't be due to difficulties in getting Thai chefs - in fact, when I went to ASAP, a purportedly Singapore-Nyonya deli in Holborn last Nov, all the chefs were not Singaporean but Thai!

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      Busaba Eathai has declined in recent months (I think Alan Yau may have sold it as part of this whole becoming a monk thing). Hakkasan has been suffering a bi since the decision to close Ling Ling and add more tables. I think it marked a shift in the mindset of the management.

                      I quite like Min Jiang for quality, and Hunan is good for value for money gluttony. China Tang can be a good bet but is a little pricey and has issues with consistency. Agree re Blue Elephant and Nahm for Thai.

                      There used to be alright laksa at the Holborn Hare & Tortoise. Kiasu was really good (opposite Bayswater Royal China) but had shut down (though I've heard rumours that it's back up now!). There's also a reasonable take away in Chiswick called Singapore Garden that does appalling mee siam but fairly good seafood hor fun and assorted dishes.

                    2. re: Simon

                      re: Thai, any word on some of the other places listed in this thread?

                    3. re: klyeoh

                      Thanks for the kinds words, but chowhounding is a highly collaborative effort. I'm looking forward to updates and new finds from everyone, and most people will share the same the feeling.