Baker Street is in the Marylebone area of Westminster in London. It is most famous for being the home of Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes, who lived at 221B Baker Street. The apartment, like the man himself, did not exist but these days the address has been created to house the Sherlock Holmes Museum. The street is named after builder William Baker who laid out the street in the eighteenth century.
The Royal China restaurant is part of a small chain. Do not be put off by that. It’s not the Oriental version of Pizza Shed or MacDougall’s Burgers. Think high-end food with ambiance to match – thoughtful touches of presentation which mark the Royal China Group as something considerably more than most neighbourhood restaurants. The internationally acclaimed London-based company boasts over 20 restaurants throughout the world.
The Royal China has a menu which offers diners the chance to try dishes that you are unlikely to find in too many other restaurants of the same ethnic genre. If you love authentic Chinese food then this will become your eatery of choice for the foreseeable future. The bill of fare is extensive and offers something for everyone, be they carnivore or vegetarian.
The original Bayswater restaurant has been joined by Fulham and Canary Wharf branches, and now there is the latest Harrow on-the-Hill restaurant. We visited the Baker Street branch of Royal China, just a short walk from the eponymous Underground station which is one of the world’s oldest. It was a winter’s evening and a Tuesday, so one would not have expected families to be patiently waiting in line for a free table. The cross-section of humanity included regulars, Europeans, Asians and tourists of every ethnic hue. Word had obviously got around.
The Royal China is celebrated for dim sum and authentic Cantonese dishes. We perused the menu while nibbling on seasoned peanuts and delicious pickled turnip. Then it was on to the appetisers and we were tempted by Deep Fried Baby Squid with Chilli & Spicy Salt. This is a triumph of both texture and taste. And an amazingly large portion, as are all of the dishes here at Royal China.
Spicy Smoked Shredded Chicken was a revelation and a must-try. The meat had an evident taste of smoke. This is moreish – simple and memorable. I would love to know the secret of this preparation.
We were spoiled for choice for main courses. Fish is here in abundance and we chose Deep Fried Fillet of Dover Sole with Sweet & Sour Sauce. This dish is far superior to the nuggets of over-battered and doughy pork or chicken of which I have often been the victim at inferior restaurants. The coating on the fish was light and crisp. The white flesh was moist, creamy and sweet. The sauce, although still the vibrant orange colour as usual, was mild and with a less overpowering tang of vinegar.
Sautéed Chicken with Chilli & Black Bean Sauce is robust and flavourful with a salty savour from the fermented beans. The chilli was warming but far from tongue-numbing. An ideal dressing for some plain rice.
“Shaolin Monks” Vegetables in Clay Pot was the most spectacular of the dishes. The clay pot was not of the usual unglazed sort but a rather sophisticated black bowl with matching burner. The vegetable stew bubbled away merrily. This is a stew that is said to replicate a chicken and veg casserole, but the meat is replaced by glutinous morsels. For those who need meat and spice then Stewed Egg Plant (aubergine) with Minced Pork in Spicy Sauce should be on your list.
Sautéed Pak‐Choy with Garlic was delicious and aromatic. The vegetables were a little difficult to eat with chopsticks but worth the effort. Those black-lacquered chopsticks are decorated with gold to coordinate with the walls which are resplendent with the gleaming metal leaf. The Singaporean Rice Vermicelli was a spicy accompaniment. These thin noodles were yellow with turmeric and studded with prawns. Another substantial plateful.
This is the first Royal China that I have visited but I hope it will not be my last. The lunch menu offers the ever-popular dim sum (small dishes that are traditionally served for breakfast and lunch), of which there are more than 30 varieties, and there are even a few desserts as well.
There is a host of other dishes that I have a mind to try. The menu is extensive and full of intriguing possibilities. The staff were welcoming and efficient and made the Royal China experience a positive one. They are happy to give advice, and that might be welcome with so many unfamiliar options. This company has a branch in China so one can assume that these dishes are well-received by those in the know. One of my top ten Chinese restaurants.
Monday to Thursday: Noon – 11:00pm
Friday and Saturday: Noon – 11:30pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Royal China – Baker Street
24-26 Baker Street, London, W1U 7AB
Tel: 020 7487 4688
Visit Royal China here
Bayswater Tel: 020 7221 2535
13 Queensway, W2 4QJ.
Canary Riverside Tel: 020 7719 0888
30 West Ferry Circus, E14 8RR.
Fulham Tel: 020 7731 0081
805 Fulham Road, SW6 5HE.
Harrow Tel: 020 8863 8359
148‐150 Station Road, HA1 2RH.
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018