My first meal report from this extended London sojourn (just a few weeks left to go) was of dim sum at Joy King Lau, a stalwart of London’s Chinatown. It was solid but in no way remarkable. Since then I’ve also reported on a dim sum meal at A. Wong in Victoria—a meal that was very interesting, with every dish given some sort of mod’ish flourish or other other, but not finally terribly satisfying. It was therefore with interest that we landed up at Royal China on Baker St. not too long after our A. Wong meal. This is the flagship location of a mini-chain well known for the quality of their dim sum. How did we like it? Read on.
The Royal China group has seven locations over the greater London area and even one in Singapore. There are two branches within steps on each other Baker St., by the way—the other, Royal China Club, is more upscale and my understanding is that it is less dim sum-focused than the other locations. All are apparently very popular. Indeed, we ate at the Baker St. branch with friends at lunch on a Friday and shortly after opening at noon the large dining room was full. All the branches take reservations for dim sum on weekdays—on weekends it’s first come, first served.
The dining room at the Baker St. location is, as I said, quite large. It’s not very bright, however, and despite being done up tastefully enough there’s a sterile feel to it. There are no carts here; you order off the menu—there’s a regular dim sum menu and a menu of specials—and things arrive as they’re ready. If you’re used to eating dim sum in Los Angeles (in the San Gabriel Valley, to be specific) you probably won’t be very impressed with the variety on offer—the menu is comprised primarily of a small roster of classics; you will, however, probably be impressed, as we were, with the execution on those standards. Everything we ate was very good: the dumpling wrappers were excellent, the ingredients good and everything was cooked correctly. After our A. Wong experience this was very welcome.
For what we ate launch the slideshow below.
Service alternated between gruff and friendly but was consistently patchy—it took a long time to order and receive drinks, we had to ask for water multiple times, and it took a long time for the bill to arrive. As to how much the bill came to, I’m afraid I cannot say: our friends refused to let us look at it, leave alone pay. I would guess that it was probably about £25-30/head. Which, if true, is probably very good value for money in London—this was quite a bit better than Joy King Lau. We liked it so much that we decided we’d try to eat here again before returning to the dismal dim sum of the Twin Cities. Well, we did go back to Royal China, but not to this branch. More on our recent meal at the Canary Wharf location in a week or three.