This meal was part of the fulfillment of three of our London desires at once. After a very good dim sum meal with friends at Royal China’s Baker Street mothership, we’d wanted to go back to Royal China once more. We also wanted to visit the Museum of London, Docklands, which we’d heard very good things about. And the boys, having ridden on every tube line, wanted to complete their set with a journey on the DLR (the Docklands Light Rail). Since we were running short on time in London to do everything we’d left for later, being able to cross three things off the list in one morning and afternoon was a good thing.
We took the tube from Westminster to Canary Wharf and it was a 15 minute walk to Royal China’s Canary Wharf location (we realized when we got there that we could have arrived, James Bond style, on a boat on the Thames and walked off the wharf and into the restaurant). After another very good dim sum lunch it was another short walk to the Docklands Museum. And from there we took the DLR back to central London. There was some retroactive excitement for the boys some days later when they learned that parts of the last Star Wars movie had been filmed in the very Canary Wharf tube station we had disembarked at. I know it is fascinating for you to read about the minutiae of our days in London. But it’s nice to relive them, howsoever briefly, while writing these reports up.
Royal China don’t take reservations on weekends, which made us a little nervous (it’s hard to do long waits at lunch with little kids). But it didn’t turn out to be a problem. The dining room was full and they did have a long wait for a table there but they also have an outdoor seating area right by the water. It was a cool, slightly breezy morning and not all Londoners seemed to be up to it. We, however, have lived through 10 Minnesota winters and were only too happy to snag a table right away. As the day warmed up, and more and more people got hungry, that area filled up too.
Interestingly, their menu is not identical to that of the Baker St. branch—there were a couple of things we’d not eaten on that occasion that we’d thought we’d try here but they didn’t offer them. Not everything from their own regular dim sum menu was available, and for that matter not everything from the special weekend dim sum menu was available too. But we really liked everything we ate. Not a dud in the bunch. For details on what we ate, please launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for cost, our take on the overall experience and so forth.
Service was much friendlier and attentive here than at our Baker St. lunch. While that lunch had the special bonus of featuring the company of old friends we have very few opportunities to meet, I would say that we preferred the combination of the food and the atmosphere at the Canary Wharf location. As to whether we would have felt the same if seated inside, I don’t know. All of the food above (and bear in mind we had multiples of the har gow and siu mai) came to $88 all-in. Count the boys as one and that puts us at slightly below $30/head. We could and have spent that much on far inferior dim sum in the Twin Cities. For London, and the quality and quantity of food we ate, it’s really a very good value.
On the whole, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by London’s dim sum scene, which I’d been led to believe was subpar. The modernist misadventure at A. Wong aside (though it was still interesting), we could live in London and be happy with the dim sum. And we apparently didn’t even eat at the best/most expensive dim sum restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley, leave alone Vancouver or Hong Kong, but if the Royal China restaurants are second-tier here then the scene is more than respectable.
I may have another restaurant review tomorrow—it’ll be from Islay if so. If not, there’ll be two Islay meal reports next week. And my next London report will be of an afternoon tea (at the other end of cliche island from fish and chips). Friday: another whisky review.