Nestling beneath the bustling Canary Wharf tower – but with calming waterfront views across London’s Docklands – there can be few more impressive locations to enjoy a Chinese meal than that offered by the Royal China Riverside.
With room for at least 80 diners along the waterfront – and even more space inside – the restaurant is a magnet for the thousands working in the burgeoning nearby financial district, as well as casual passing trade looking for a leisurely lunch or evening meal.
Part of the famous Royal China group of restaurants, the Riverside incarnation specialises in Hong Kong cuisine, as opposed to Cantonese dishes, and also boasts a popular Dim Sum menu.
Keen to sample both traditional and speciality fare, and to pace ourselves, we started off with a quarter of crispy aromatic duck with the usual trimmings.
What we were served was more than ample, so I’m not sure we could have managed the half or full duck versions, though adjacent tables were clearly enjoying larger helpings of the dish.
Our plate avoided some of the common pitfalls associated with aromatic crispy duck. It was well cooked, so wasn’t too dry, and maintained a good heat throughout while we were chatting.
That meant we didn’t feel the need to rush to avoid finishing with cold, hard to swallow duck, which can sometimes be a problem.
The next course presented a bit more of a challenge. We wanted try out the restaurant’s much vaunted Dim Sum selection. But there was such a huge choice available that we wanted to be sure of sampling some signature dishes, while also getting the right blend of flavours.
We needn’t have worried. A brief consultation with a waitress, who was patience personified given that she was up to her eyes in a very hectic lunchtime service, put us on the right road.
For the main course, she suggested a mixture of Dim Sum together with a more traditional dish. The dumplings we selected with her help from the Dim Sum menu included prawn and chives and ‘supreme vegetarian’ – set off by a rice wrap in oyster sauce – plus one of the poultry dishes accompanied by steamed rice.
Our sautéed chicken with steamed seasonal vegetables, in a very light gravy-like sauce, was beautifully cooked and went well with the rice.
The different Dim Sums also complemented each other very well. The stars for us were definitely the succulent prawn dumplings.
Having demolished our first two courses we were given a well earned rest before picking a desert from an afters menu, which belied the common myth that Chinese restaurants don’t do sweets very well.
The choice ranged from a fresh fruit platter to almond tofu with fruit cocktail, not to mention fresh mango and grapefruit tapioca.
Given the range of dishes available, the location and the attentive service, the price represented value-for-money, with our meal coming in at around £40 a head. There are also various set menus for around the same price.
Set seven-course tasting menus are available at all Royal China restaurants – at Baker Street, Bayswater and Fulham as well as Canary Wharf.
All Royal China restaurants have the same à la carte menus although each dedicates a full page to signature dishes created by the restaurant’s individual Head Chefs. These dishes are changed frequently, while the seasonal dishes are changed four times a year.
~ Royal China Riverside is a 30 Westferry Circus, London E14 8RR. Tel: 020 7719 0888.