Man proposes, and man – or woman-disposes. This is what happened every time I made plans to meet friends for dinner at Royal China. Two foodie friends with whom we have shared many a memorable meal are great fans of this Chinese restaurant in Nehru Place. On at least two occasions we had thought we’d meet there for dinner – but the plans changed at the last moment. The final upshot was that I ended up not going there.
This was taken care of a few days ago when I finally went there for dinner. An enthusiastic publicist had been calling me up, urging me to visit the restaurant. Since I had heard only good things about it, I wasn’t unwilling either. I went there one rainy evening when everybody in Delhi thought it prudent to stay back home. So it was a breeze driving up to Eros Corporate Tower in Nehru Place (opposite Eros Hotel). And parking was easy – for there are several dedicated levels in the building.
Royal China is on the top floor of the 16-storey building. You get a good view of Delhi’s glittering lights if you sit by the window, which I did. It’s a huge restaurant with 120 covers. The helpful manager told me that the restaurant was known for its dim sums, so insisted that I have some. I did – and thought that the prawn and chive dumpling was excellent. Since I am very fond of pork, I also had their roast pork cheung fun, which is a rice noodle wrap with a pork filling drizzled with a mildly sweet sauce. As an appetiser, I had their steamed prawn with burnt garlic, which was again very good. The prawns had been cooked just right – neither rubbery, nor underdone – and the crunchy garlic on top added to the taste.
For mains there was double cooked pork Szechuan style, sautéed chicken with chilli and black bean sauce and Royal China’s exotic vegetables. The food is essentially Cantonese, which means a dish may be glazed in a sauce, but doesn’t come floating in gravy. And I quite enjoy it like that. The chicken in black bean was strongly flavoured, and it went well with the egg fried rice that it came with. The pork, somehow, didn’t work for me – I found it a bit too salty, and the sauce too overwhelming. But the vegetable dish was outstanding. It was a very light preparation – of broccoli, bok choy, asparagus, water chestnut and various kinds of mushrooms. The vegetables were crunchy and the sauce mildly fragrant – and perfect.
These days, I find that Asian chefs are also focusing on presentation. There was a time when looks didn’t really matter in a Chinese restaurant. But that’s no longer true. Their aubergine and chicken dish, for instance, is like a piece of art – small chunks put together almost like an oval Rubik’s cube. Likewise, their chilled mango pudding is beautiful to look at (though, sadly, not all that good to eat).
Royal China – which is present across the world, including Mumbai and Pune – is known for its dim sums. I am told their dim sum lunch is a big hit (Rs.1450-1950, excluding taxes). They have a huge menu, but also a fixed meal with starters, dim sums, duck, etc. (Rs.1550-1800, and for Rs.2100-2500 with liquor). Dim sums are for Rs.350 or so. Prawn main dishes are for Rs.700, pork Rs. 450-500, and chicken Rs. 600 or so. They have a good selection of desserts including egg tarts, caramel custards, mud cakes and custard buns. They also do home delivery (Ph: 49818000-08).
I enjoyed my meal there and now plan to go back there with the foodie friends who swear by its food. Sometimes, man proposes, disposes, and then proposes again.