Monday 25 February 2008

Royal China, Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, London

With a fine position overlooking a bend in the river, this branch of Royal China is justifiably popular at weekend lunchtimes with young families and groups of adults. As you can't book, you may have to pitch up 45 minutes before you want to eat. You are given a number securing your place in the queue so you can walk along the river and build up an appetite. Inside, Royal China is a large restaurant, manned by a well-drilled platoon of efficient, but sullen, staff who just about earn the 13 per cent recommended service charge. The decor is pretty standard for a Chinese restaurant - red Chinese lanterns hang from the ceilings and large prints line the walls, but the smart white tablecloths are a pleasant change from the paper variety you find in many oriental eateries. The dim sum (from £2.40 per dish) is generally excellent. The Vietnamese spring rolls are crispy, delicious morsels and the steamed prawn and chive dumplings also stand out, but the white, puffy chicken and mushroom buns can be slightly cloying and sickly. The main courses aren't quite as appealing. For £10.80, you get about ten fat, fresh prawns resting on some large chunks of chicory, while the honey-roasted pork (£7.60) comes sliced on a bed of rather limp lettuce. 7/10