Published by Evening Express: 13/01/2012
NOW when it comes to Chinese food I quite like Banquet Menu A but I also like Banquet Menu B. There’s only one way to settle this ... fight!
Fortunately, though, our trip to the Royal China didn’t descend into a Harry Hill-style brawl between a man in a spring roll suit and one dressed as an outsize spare rib.
But we were lucky enough to settle our indecision by having both banquet menus ... the benefits of going out for dinner with your mates.
And the beauty of banquet style dining is you can mix and match, sample this, sample that, while letting those who hate seafood focus on the chicken and beef.
It can be the case that a banquet offering never quite lives up to the promise on the menu. The portions are smaller than you expect and there’s something that no one really wants but it’s part of the deal.
But not so at Royal China, a refined eatery that has been a favourite of ours for years.
Everything is good, everything is ample and every thing is yummy.
Certainly the hillock of starters they brought out presented a challenge ... how to resist stuffing our faces and leaving no room for the food to come.
It was a challenge made harder by the sheer quality on offer, from tangy meaty ribs to crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside king prawn rolls, to more-ish crispy seaweed.
Although the spring rolls were a bit pedestrian in the stellar company, there wasn’t a duffer on the plate, and the sharing of banquets gave us a wide choice.
The second course wasn’t so complex ... just the most delicious crispy duck you’ll be likely to find in the North-east. Not a trace of fat and while crisp, not cremated as can be the case. Superb.
The extremely friendly and efficient staff gave us a wee breather at this point. More time to yack and sink more Chinese beer.
Then the main dishes started coming ... and kept coming.
We were almost literally spoiled for choice, but I homed in on the sweet and sour chicken. The lightest of batters was a delight although the sauce was more sweet than sour.
The lemon chicken was a masterclass in how to prepare this dish. Light and subtle with a sauce that was citrusy, escaping the washing up liquid notes lemon chicken can suffer from.
The tender Szechuan beef was also a winner. Prime cuts of meat in a zingy sauce but not too fiery. That award went to the shredded beef that carried a real kick.
For me, though, the runaway winner was the king prawn dish. Huge seafood, cooked to perfection in a light sauce that was singing with ginger and spring onion. Perfection on a plate.
All of this plus special fried rice, that was a meal on its own, and tender fried noodles.
Despite this mountain of food our party left barely a morsel.
Never mind fights between banquet menus ... the real winner at Royal China will be fans of high quality Chinese cuisine.
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