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Royal China @ Raffles exudes the prestige and grandeur as the famous colonial Raffles Hotel. Housed in the 3rd level of the hotel, Royal China definitely strikes out to be a cut-above-the-rest with its impressive name, and location. Having heard rave reviews about Royal China’s dim sum, it was about time that I patronised the restaurant, and boy I was charmed.
I decided to go against the norm this time round, usually i’ll write out my conclusion at the end, but Royal China isn’t any normal restaurant serving run-of-the-mill dim sum. I’ll rate them in the same league as Yan Ting, but definitely cheaper. Given the varsity in prices, I say Royal China certainly serves the best dim sum among the places i tried so far.
You can be forgiven if you think that Royal China comes with some Chinese background since the name China indirectly implied the meaning. In fact, The Royal China group is eminent in London, and the foray into Shanghai was just a recent event. Royal China @ Raffles remains the exclusive restaurant in the whole of South-east Asia.
Stepping into Royal China, the contemporary interior which comes in wave of ocean blue makes it a swanky restaurant. No doubt you wouldn’t believe this was actually a Chinese restaurant, and i must say I enjoyed the ambience as it’s very different from the traditional red and gold setting which you find in Chinese restaurants. The blue and white backdrop ooze a certain calm and tranquil, which made you feel right at home.
Baked Barbecued pork puff ($4 for 3)
The baked barbecued pork puff or char siew sou, was definitely the must-order dim sum at Royal China. Within the flaky, crispy pastry skin was the most delicious, sweet and juicy char siew that you could find. I regretted not having second serving of this, the next time round, i’ll have one basket for myself!
The best char siew sou that i tried so far was at Yan Ting, and Royal China’s rendition is certainly on-par with that. The thought of the excellent BBQ pork puff is enough for me to make a perennial return.
Steamed pork dumpling ($4.80 for 4)
Making a strong case for Royal China, the steamed pork dumpling, or siew mai was also another staple in the menu. Like most siew mai, the beautiful red roe adorns the top, and how can you not order this when you are having dim sum!
Steamed prawn dumpling ($4.80 for 4)
As with most, if not all good steamed prawn dumplings, a whole fresh and luscious prawn shroud within the thin and light skin had the right amount of bite. And at $1.20 each, they are really worth the money, compared with the ones at Peach Garden which are higher in price.
Steamed BBQ pork buns ($3.60 for 3)
Like i mentioned before, I love to eat char siew buns from Chinese restaurants because they are usually in three parts which have gaps to tease you with the char siew fillings. And at $1.20 each, I’ll rather have one of these any time over the sub-standard buns elsewhere.
Steamed seafood roll with minced garlic ($4.80 for 2)
Coming on the recommendation of the staff, the steamed seafood roll with minced garlic was one of the more expensive dim sum at Royal China. Each basket only serves two person, nevertheless, each serving came in the form of a huge crunchy prawn wrapped around wisp of noodles. An interesting and novelty take.
Carrot cake with preserved meat ($4 for 1)
There wasn’t anything fantastic with the carrot cake here, No complications of XO sauce, no carrot cake wannabe cheong fun just a good and reliable portion of the dish which we are all familiar with.
Glutinous rice in lotus leaf ($4.80 for 2)
We decided to have just one basket of the Glutinous rice not because it wasn’t good, but rice makes you full easily, and we wanted to keep our stomach for the other delectable dim sum. The rice was enhanced with the fragrant emitted by the lotus leaf.
Royal China Cheong fun ($4.80 for 3 rolls)
We had the Royal China Cheong fun, which was a combination of the three different ingredients, namely, prawn, char siew and scallop. You can also get just one of the ingredient in a serving, but since we wanted to try all three, this was a good choice.
The cheong fun rice rolls were silky-smooth, and encompassing within were fresh scallops, crunchy prawns and juicy char siew. I couldn’t quite decide which ingredient was better, but i’m leaning towards the crunchy prawns.
String beans crystal dumpling in chilli oil ($3.6 for 1)
This was the only upset from the otherwise perfect meal at Royal China. Coming as a last minute before the last order at 2.45pm (lunch’s from 12-3pm), the staff told us this was special because not many places uses string beans in dim sum. And i agreed, only with the part that you seldom see string beans.
The string bean crystal dumplings had fillings of string beans, and soaked in chilli oil. We did not like the combination, the chilli oil was too spicy and oily. But being the nice people, we didn’t want to waste food, so we took one each and gulped it down.
Deep fried prawn dumpling served with Mayo ($4.80 for 3)
Another of the last minute order, the deep fried prawn dumpling fared better than the string bean crystal dumpling. Covered with almonds, the inside was minced prawn. My friend was looking out for the big prawn which was evident in the prawn dumpling, and the seafood roll. But the prawn here was minced nicely and filled in the dumpling instead.
Baked duck meat roll in Portuguese sauce ($4.80 for 3)
The baked duck meat roll was also on the recommendations of the staff, it came as a surprise to us when it arrived, looking like meat roll dipped in curry-like colour sauce. In fact, it was Portuguese sauce, now i’m not too sure what exactly was Portuguese sauce, but the flavour was too strong, and overwhelmed the duck meat roll.
But eaten without the Portuguese sauce, the duck meat roll on its roll was actually quite good. The fillings were generous within the roll, pity the Portuguese sauce though.
Total Bill was $95.10 for 5 people. Most of the earlier dim sum that we ordered came in 6 portions because another friend didn’t come in the eleventh minute. I listed out the normal pricing for the standard pieces of dim sum available so as not to confuse you. You could also do it like us, say you have 5 people order 5 pieces instead of getting two basket of 3 each.
Prices are reasonable given the quality of the dim sum. We paid about $19 per person, definitely not expensive, but we didn’t exactly eat a lot, one of each dim sum. I preferred to appreciate each piece of quality dim sum than to gorge myself silly with a lot of sub-standards one.
Dim sum at Royal China was an excellent one, standards are comparable to Yan Ting, yet prices are cheaper than the latter. There are some other dim sum which i haven’t try, and a perennial return looks to be a certainty, and I’ll definitely recommend Royal China if you are looking for good dim sum. The restaurant’s also famous for their lobster noodles, but unless you got deep pockets, i suggest you stick to the dim sum. See you there!
You are always welcome to visit ladyironchef for a full-up on this trip. Whatever written herein are my genuine feelings expressed in words. Food, my dear, is what they call an adventure!
Its been quite some time since i've had decent dim sum in Singapore and it was with deepest pleasure when i was invited to join a couple of friends to try out Royal China at Raffles hotel. Having passed by the place a few times, i had never been interested enough to visit until this day. Interestingly, the first restaurant for this little gem actually started in London. And just before all of you read the review and wish to visit it, please note that it is now under renovation.
The decor consists of mainly wood furniture and red livery carpets. This will probably change though since the restaurant is going through a makeover session at the moment. Either way, the restaurant projects a positive and lively energy when you enter.
Chili and Roasted Honey Cashew Nuts - Why am i showing this? Well, i got pretty acquainted with the nuts and basically want to tell everyone that the nuts were great. Well roasted and sweet without losing any of its crunchiness. The fragrance and sweetness of it is simply appetising as well. A sign of good things to come i believe.
Char Siew Sor (5 for $6.50) - Thin and moderately crispy pastry surrounds the thick stuffed filling of char siew that is bursting at the seams. The char siew is moist, sweet and thick with lots of taste. The only gripe here is that some of the meat was slightly burnt in my serving but otherwise, a good dish.
Crispy Pork Belly with Mustard ($12) - A small serving like this is actually worth $12. I was astonished actually but upon tasting it, i guess its somewhat justified. Extremely crispy skin contrasts with the thick juicy meat that is found below. Dip it in mustard sauce and you'll know exactly what sinful good food tastes like. The thing you have to get over is the fact that you are eating fatty meat and the fact that one plate is never enough.
Chee Cheong Fan ($10) - We had 2 different Cheong Fan's here. One with the basic char siew and 2 with the shrimps. The shrimp version actually tasted alot better then the usual char siew version because of the extremely fresh and crunchy shrimps. One good thing is that although there's an entire layer of soy sauce beneath, it never got overwhelmingly salty. Definitely worth a try.
Char Siew Bao (5 for $6) - How can one reinvent the wheel for an item already done to death and found everywhere? Well, they either provide better stuffings or reinvent the dough used to wrap the stuffings in this case. They did neither but it was still a cut above the rest. The char siew was sweet and fulfilling as the pieces were rather thick. The bun itself is very fluffy and light while also being mildly sweet for good effect.
Fu Pi Juan (Deep Fried Beancurd with Shrimp) (5 for $10) - The one thing surprising about this item is that its actually not oily. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely oil used to deep fry it, but it doesn't overwhelm nor coat your mouth with oil. Taste wise though, the shrimps are generously big and crunchy but the beancurd skin was unfortunately lacklustre and failed to instill any feeling of gratification.
Beancurd with Fish Paste (5 for $6.50) - The fish paste is springy and had a mild 'fishy' taste to it while the beancurd felt like run-of-the-mill varieties. A disappointing dish.
Crystal Dumplings (5 for $7) - Ordered this because we were hoping to find out whats the reason behind the whole craze on crystal dumplings. It wasn't answered however and the skin, though translucent, was sticky and stuck to the teeth. The fillings were normal to say the least and the overall comment was that it was salty.
Custard Bun (5 for $6.50) - Now this is a simple bun that is bound to turn heads. Served piping hot, this little bun seems quite insignificant until you take a bite at it. Immediately, you will realize that you have something very special. The bun itself is soft and light as a feather while the filling of custard is literally bursting at the seems. Add the fact that the custard is only mildly sweet with hints of egg still noticeable and basically, you got the winner of the day (for me at least).
Shark's Fin with Dumpling Soup ($44 for 5) - This is the most expensive item we had that day and its easy to see why. At $8.80 a portion, its amazing that you can actually see an entire piece of shark's fin in the broth. Chicken broth by the looks of it, this isn't the usual starchy shark's fin that is the norm elsewhere. This is clear broth with vegetables and a pork dumpling and a portion of fin. The experience however, is a little bland and the dumpling is rather simple. Nonetheless, its a good dish.
Beef Ball (3 for $3.80) - Juicy, thick balls of minced beef, radish and vegetables aren't enough to save this dish from mediocrity. Its basically too salty to be liked and lacked any other discerning factors to lift its score.
Siew Mai (10 for $10) - Small, fresh and relentlessly juicy, this is a siew mai above the rest. You can taste the sweetness of pork, the freshness of mushrooms and the crunchiness of shrimp all in one package. What is there not to like?
Prawn and asparagus (5 for $10) - This is a rather......mixed bag because firstly, it isn't too special. Secondly, the sauce is too salty. Thirdly, i still love the shrimp and finally, its difficult to feel anything for it after eating because at best, its only average. Save your money for another custard bun.
Har Gao (10 for $10) - Crunchy shrimps anyone? Because if thats what you want, thats what you'll get. Ask for anything more however, and you'll be disappointed. The shrimp filling is definitely generous but the skin is a little too sticky and thick for my liking. Improvement needed.
Red Bean Pancake ($8) - I did myself the horror of ordering this. Why is it a horror you may ask? Because A: i've just had all the above B: this pancake is huge C: its a little over fried on some parts and D: its a little too sweet to be totally likeable. Its not bad actually, just not as good as i hoped and its definitely too filling for dessert.
Pomelo Sago ($4) - Yam Paste ($6) - Mango Pudding ($4) - I didn't get to try any of the above so i'll reserve my comments.
The final bill came up to $204.09 for 5 people on a lazy afternoon. It took us 3 hours to finish our dim sum foray which meant we had way too much food and little time to rest before dinner.
Its a wonderful place to have dim sum and honestly, the quality does justify its price. The only gripe i have is that its not without its misses. But i'll still gladly return any day for its custard buns. In fact, once the renovation is done, i'm going back for my little saintly buns for sure. Cheers!
A great place to have dim sum. Place is well decorated. Service staff are attentive. Food is great and prices are fairly piced.
Had the porridge on two occasions and found it to be on the salty side. Apart from that, the other dishes are lovely.
Private rooms are also available. Do make reservations.
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