For the recent London Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (on 30th June 2013) the Royal China restaurant in Canary Wharf offered free Zongzi with each meal. I went along to try them out. They’re glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings (I had pork, chestnuts and mushrooms) wrapped in lotus leaves – filling and savoury. The general manager Peter Ng told me they were traditionally flung into the sea to appease the Sea Gods, so the dragon boats wouldn’t be scuppered.
Sooo, the Royal China in Canary Wharf is actually on the riverfront – we ate outside in the sunshine under the plane (Linden?) trees and beneath the big black parasols (heated!). It was busy – there are 4 or 5 restaurants clustered together, all with outside seating overlooking the fast-flowing Thames, which is tidal here.
Starters: Deep Fried Baby Squid with Spicy Salt (£6.50) was light, crispy, with no trace of rubberiness (difficult to get right but they managed it). Steamed Chilli Pork Dumplings (£6.50) were filling and savoury, the only slightly underwhelming dish. The husband had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (£7/glass or £27/bottle) which was “quaffable”. On the subject of the wine list, there are wine pairing suggestions for all the foods (prawns, squid etc) which is an excellent idea. “You can tell you’re in a banker environment because the Vintage 2003 Dom Perignon is only the second most expensive champagne. There are also two 1999 first growth clarets for £788 each! Also, a good range of older wines i.e. before 2004.” So, those are the husband’s thoughts.
Main courses (are huge): Cantonese Honey Roast Pork (£8.80) was beautifully cooked, sweet yet savoury, tinged plum-pink. Roast Duck Cantonese Style (£10.20 – “very popular”, according to the waiter) was succulent. For a while we went back and forth trying to decide which was the pork and which was the duck – but the duck skin gave it away. Sauteed Fresh Baby Asparagus (£9.00) was the revelation of the meal, teeny tiny spears, in a sweetish sauce, unusual (I haven’t seen this before on a Chinese menu) and (they said) British.
Crispy Noodles with Beef (£8.80) and Steamed Rice (£2.80) finished me off. We over ordered spectacularly and – something I LOVE, they boxed up the leftovers for a takeaway and brought them in a classy stiff card/paper bag – it looked like an expensive gift rather than scraggy old leftovers, so I wasn’t embarrassed to carry them home.
Husband went for the final nail in his arteries’ coffin – the Mango Mousse (£4.50) which was “mangoeish and moreish”. Then, something which became the highlight of my evening – we walked the 20 steps to the Thames Clipper jetty and got the river catamaran back into town. I’ve never been on it before, but it was SOOO much fun – a much better way to get home (if you’re not too rushed for time) than sitting staring at the ads on the tube. Husb reckoned we were going about 30 knots, which is fast (he’s a sailor), although we slowed down when we got nearer Westminster. It was £5.80 on our Oyster cards so bargain activity of the week – we are definitely going back with the kids for a pleasure cruise, of sorts.
To summarise, Royal China Canary Wharf is great if you’re in the area and fancy a Chinese. “There’s nothing here that’s a disappointment, foodwise,” said Husband, and the view/location is lovely.
The Dragon Boat festival takes place every year at the London Regatta Centre in Docklands, with up to 40 teams battling it out for top honours (various companies enter corporate teams etc).
Royal China, 30 West Ferry Circus, London E14 8RR, Telephone: 020 7719 0888
Email: [email protected], Web: www.royalchinagroup.co.uk