Disclaimer: We were invited guests of the Royal China Group but all of my very, very many opinions and thoughts are only ever my own.
We have seriously been missing out. Gone are the days (well, unless you actively seek it out) of stodgy, oily plates full of slightly unidentifiable stuff disguised as Anglicised versions of Cantonese comfort food. Royal China presents subtle flavour, beautifully cooked produce and delicate parcels of dim sum that I already want to revisit for.
The most surprising Chinese meal we've ever had was in a restaurant we stumbled upon in Berlin. Fancying something comforting and hot on a cold November day, we passed over local delicacies for the twinkling lights of oriental delights - complete with subdued interior and aquarium. It was one of the best decisions of that holiday. Fresh, full of flavour and beautifully presented, we learned a little more about the history of migrant Germany and not to judge a book by it's cover.
Back in London recently, at Royal China we began as all good Chinese meals do, with starters of Sesame Prawn Toast and as a nod to the dim sum menu, with spicy pork dumplings. Both were delicate and delicious, thoroughly getting the eyes closed mmmmmm of approval, but the spicy pork dumplings were amazing.
We did smile when the order docket was popped on our table next to the beautiful cutlery and crossed off as our servers brought the courses - efficiency at it's best.
We picked an early time slot enjoying watching the restaurant fill up - everyone from shopping parties of beautiful girls, families with colouring-in books, business men ordering set menus bent on schmoozing clients and big groups of lads filling the lazy susan with prawn crackers and chili oil.
It took an age to decide what to order, much to the amusement of our waitress, even whilst spying nearby table selections. The menu includes chicken with fresh mango, braised abalone with sea cucumber, steamed whole sea bass, hot and spicy salted lobster or Cantonese roasted duck all called to me from the Instagram-friendly menu (perfect for bloggers addicted to the social - one group of my friends select their dinners strictly via the pictorial medium.)
Eventually we filled our table with a collection of main dishes; perfectly sauteed beef with ginger and spring onion for the Mister, Cantonese honey roasted pork for myself and beautifully firm to the bite sauteed Chinese broccoli with ginger for the, er, table. Along with egg fried rice and steamed plain rice, it was a feast that simply defeated us.
We bartered a little of who would have what (#bloglife), settling for bowls of Vietnamese coffee & strawberry ripple, and fruit & mango with lychee sorbet with passion fruit. Utterly divine, and the perfect way to finish a feast.
Having walked past the subtle facade of Royal China on Baker Street for far too long to mention, we spent such a lovely evening rediscovering the delicacy of Chinese cuisine.
Fortunately there are several London branches of the the Royal China Group including the luxurious and celebrity studded Royal China Club, the flagship restaurant on Baker Street, Bayswater, Fulham, Harrow-on- the-Hill and Canary Wharf.
Is Chinese your 'go-to' treat meal?