You should always ask your mother to accompany you for a restaurant review. Chances are the manager will immediately recognise her (and not you) from the dinners and the kitty parties she has attended at Royal China in Delhi’s Nehru Place. That way, your initial social anxiety will dissipate in a breeze.
Not only that, but when chef Choong Chew Loon will send four bamboo steamers full of dumpling-works-of-art your way, she’ll randomly lift a piece, bite into it and announce, “truffle and edamame,” as if she made it herself.
A little later, she will ascertain that the tenderloin in truffle oil (meat chunks in butter, garlic and the oil) is well-cooked with terms like “adequately seasoned” and sentences like “consistent, not too chewy, and crunchy where it should be.”
And, finally, she’ll elegantly sip her watermelon drink (vodka, watermelon juice and crushed mint) while taking in the sights of the renovated restaurant space. Soon, she will comment, “the black-and-gold aesthetic is a refreshing change. Earlier, it was a bit conventional. This is more stylish.”
She might as well have written this review.
Eight years since the international Royal China brand first made its way to Delhi and propped itself on the 16th floor of Eros Corporate Tower—assuring patrons a 360°-view of South East Delhi, especially the Lotus Temple gleaming at a slight distance—it decided to revamp its menu and décor. The place has been a favourite among the city’s restaurant-goers since its inception, especially because at that time it was hard to find high-quality and authentic Chinese fare outside the premises of five-star hotels.
In a 2019 reality, Delhi is abundant with many such decent restaurants. Some of them even specialise in Cantonese food like Royal China. So while the revamp seems to be a step in the right direction, does it work well?
Wooden flooring, a Chinese round symbol used as a design motif, black walls and panels to provide a sense of space, effective use of spotlights and the drama they bring, and, of course, the sprawling view of the city—the décor done by Unorthodox Designs treads a fine line between the classic and the contemporary. This interplay is visually appealing, even if I found the bar with its flame texture a bit garish (though I liked the mural of a Chinese woman wearing a cheongsam in the background). The menu retains Royal China’s old favourites, so your deep-fried wonton wishes will still come true, but it is a fruitful endeavour to explore the new. Take, for instance, these two dumpling varieties: crab meat, and corn and water chestnut. Both present unique ingredients, even by mum’s standards (she has made bacon-wrapped chicken dumplings at home). Our verdict on them was positive: especially with the soft corn and the crunchy chestnut, and the not-fishy-at-all and flavourful crab meat.
The fried prawn cheung fun (fried and then rolled in rice flour, sprinkled with sesame and spring onions, and served with the famous cheung sauce), is delightfully juicy. But while we find the tenderloin in truffle oil to be the showstopper, it was given tough competition by the double-cooked pork Szechuan: the salty-good yellow-bean sauce went well with my favourite meat.
Towards the end of our meal, another new item in the menu, steam wonton with soya chilli, is presented, and it tasted like the old Royal China, but better. And that is exactly how I would describe the restaurant.
Where: 16th Floor, Eros Corporate Towers, Nehru Place, New Delhi
Timings: 12noon–3.30pm, 7pm–11.30pm
Contact: 011-49818000, 49818008