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Lately I seem to have acquired a tendency to judge a restaurant by the people who are eating it. It is something that I have picked up from travelling and has stayed a good rule of thumb – eat where the locals do, not the tourists, as it means the food is good. So when I arrived arrived the Canary Wharf branch of Royal China and saw a predominately Asian crowd, I immediately knew my stomach was going to satisfied with authentic Chinese food.
Now with six restaurants across central London, as well as restaurants in Dubai, China and Hong Kong, the Royal China has carved its name in the world of Asian cuisine. Their aim is to make authentic Cantonese food accessible across London, making China Town not the only option for dining.
Over the years, The Royal China have become most popular for their Dim Sum Menu which contains delightful options such as minced pork with cabbage dumplings in a hot spicy sauce and deep fried sweet purple potatoes with red bean paste. Despite the popularity, the Dim Sum menu is actually only available during the afternoon, meaning it is not unusual to see large queues outside their restaurants during the weekends.
I arrived at the Royal China Canary Riverside on a Tuesday evening, while on a hunt for good vegetarian food in Canary Wharf. Arriving at 6pm to a restaurant with decor that would not look out of place in Hong Kong and greeted by the restaurant manager, who I later come to learn had been working with the company for 40 years.
After being shown to our seats, we started to leaf through what seemed like a never ending menu of choice, while the tables arounds began to quickly fill with a combination of Asian families and business workers who had just finished their day in the offices of Canary Wharf. It quickly became apparent that the restaurant was a very popular choice.
While we made our way through the menu, we had a selection of starters, prawn toast; light and not greasy, often as issue I have found in other Chinese restaurants and vegetarian dumplings; light and fluffy with a warm filling of various vegetables. Our starters were also served with a selection of sweet and sour and soy dipping sauces.
For mains, the staff were more than happy to make suggestions based on our preferences and most importantly asked our preferences on spice. I am love hot food, however my partner is not as much of a fan, so we really appreciated being asked our tastes before choosing our selections. I would also like to point out that Asian and Cantonese hot, is a lot more spicy than we are used to in the East, therefore I would advise to ask for less heat.
For mains I went choose a spicy vegetable and tofu Singapore style noodle dish, the crunch of the fresh vegetables perfectly complimented the softness of the tofu, which mixed in with the fresh noodles and chilis provided just the right punch. My partner went for a traditional tender beef and vegetable dish, packed with spice it was slightly too hot for his tastebuds but he was impressed all the same. He also opted to sample the peking duck pancakes, which when complimented with the wraps, plum sauce and cucumbers created a wonderfully sweet dish, making it a great addition along side a spicer dish.
It is also worth pointing out that the portion sizes at the Royal China are extremely generous, therefore opt to share dishes between you, giving the option to sample more of the menu as well. The Royal China Canary Riverside also offers a dessert menu, something I never normally turn down, however on this rare occasion I was extremely full from the starter and main course, so did not try this, however I am eyeing up fresh mango and grapefruit tapioca for next time.
The Royal China is a great option if you are looking for authentic Chinese food in London outside of China Town, and judging by how busy the Canary Wharf restaurant was when we left, many people agree with this too. However what really stood out for me about the The Royal China Canary Riverside was the warm service from the staff and the extremely fair price tag (The average main course dish is around £13), something I have found to be missing in many restaurants sharing the same postcode.
If you are looking to add something a bit more to your visit to the Royal China, the River Bus stops directly outside the restaurant, which stops at Westminster, Embankment, Blackfriars, Bankside, London Bridge, making it an alternative way to arrive (or depart) then the tube, and also giving you the option to take in some of the fantastic views of the skyline and attractions from a different perspective.
I was invited to the Royal China for review purposes, however all opinions are my own.