Last Friday I had dinner with a group of my friends. I suggested going to Royal China since I've heard so much about their noodles and dumplings and it seems so popular. Yet I've never been!
6025 Royal Lane #201
Dallas, TX 75230
Good thing I was able to get a reservation for our party of 9 because when we arrived at 7pm, the place was insane! Super crowded, all people waiting for a table. There wasn't even enough room to stand around in the front of the restaurant! And I got worried b/c half my party was stuck in traffic. I was afraid they would give our table away, but we were seated after about 20 minutes. Whew! I'm soooo glad I called ahead!
They have a dumpling bar here which is pretty cool. You can see them hand making the dumpling wrappers and pulling the noodles. This made me have higher hopes for this place since I'd say at least 75% of the clientele is non-Asians. haha.
We finally ordered. I chose to share with some people while others ordered their own thing. We mostly stuck to dumplings and noodle dishes since that's what they're known for.
All their dumplings are..
"Handmade from the dumpling bar. Steamed or pan seared in freshly hand rolled wrappers. Made with wheat flour and fresh vegetable juice extract for colors and nutrients."
Dumpling Sampler (2 each of pork, chicken, shrimp, and vegetable dumplings) $10~ These are the flavors:
Pork (with chives and napa cabbage)
Chicken (basil, jicama, mushroom)
Shrimp (shiitake mushrooms, jicama, ginger)
Vegetable (mixed vegetables, vermicelli, shiitake mushrooms)
This was a gorgeous dish. The vibrant colors and uniformity of the dumplings was impressive. However, it is only good to look at. The dough itself was a little too thick and quite chewy. I'd say if I had to choose, the chicken was my favorite one. But even then, the flavors were just meh. The shrimp had a fishiness to it... didn't seem that fresh. My friend did not like the vegetable one at all so I didn't even bother to try it. haha. Gotta save those calories for other stuff! So... it was disappointing. At least it makes for a great picture! :P
Xiao-Long Bao (steamed soup pork dumplings) 6 pieces per order $8.50~
These were better than the other dumplings but still same complaint. The wrapper was too thick and chewy. It did have a good amount of soup inside though. And the flavor was decent. JengChi is wayy better in my opinion. Better dough and cheaper! You get 8 pieces for under $7 at JengChi! :)
One friend got the Pan Seared Pork Dumplings (6 per order) $7.50~ Again, looks great, but he said it was meh. He also said the potstickers at JengChi totally kicks this one's ass. haha.
Pork Belly Gwa-Bao (slow braised tender pork belly in clam shell bun with scallions and pickled sweet and sour vegetables) 2 per order $9~
Gwa Bao is essentially a steamed bun with stuff in the middle. $9 for 2 pieces?!?! That's a little ridiculous. At least they were pretty big. The pork belly was tender and I liked that a lot. But the buns were hard. Meaning they were set out too long after they were steamed and they hardened up. Bleh. I took 2 bites and didn't want anymore.
Scallion Pancake (thin, crispy wheat pancake seasoned with salt and chopped scallions) $5~
This was one of my favorites of the night. It was nice and crispy. And seemed cheap compared to everything else we got. However, for this price, you can get TWO orders of green onion pancakes at JengChi and theirs is pretty delicious.
The other thing Royal China is known for are their hand pulled noodles (lamian). I LOVE hand pulled noodles so I was excited to try it... They have 2 kinds of lamian:
"Lanzhou: one of the cities on the Silk Road, NW of China. Famous for its hand pulled noodles. Lanzhou Lamian are thin and round noodles."
Lanzhou Dan-Dan Lamian (spicy, sweet and sour with tany Sichuan peppercorn) $10~
I ordered this. It was served cold and topped with crushed peanuts. It's supposed to be SPICY! It was not. Mostly just sweet... Needed more sour too. :/ Eh... if I didn't think of it as dan-dan noodles, it was actually ok. The cold temp made it quite refreshing. It needed some sort of meat though.
Lanzhou Beef Noodle Soup (clear beef broth with slices of braised beef shank, topped with cilantro, daikon and green onion) $14~
A friend ordered this. It was a massive bowl. But for $14, it better be!! Actually, all the noodles were pretty big. I liked the noodles in this one better than dan-dan since it was thicker. Both had good texture though. So at least the hand pulling and cooking technique was done well. The broth was kinda bland. I usually prefer spicy beef noodle soup anyways.
"Henan: located South of Yellow River, in Eastern Central China. The noodles are stretched, pulled and torn from one piece of dough into strands of wide and flat noodles."
Henan Lu-Rou Lamian (slow braised meat sauce with pork belly, five spices, mushrooms, and soy sauce) $13~
This was probably my favorite noodle dish. The noodles were much wider and had great texture. It was chewy, which I like. And there was lots of meat in it. Mmmmm fatty pork! It definitely needed some heat, but overall I liked this one a lot.
Happy Family (Shrimp, scallops, beef, chicken sauteed with mixed vegetables in a brown sauce) $17~
This was the only entree we ordered in our group. So expensive for what... stirfry?!?! Geez! It was basically Americanized Chinese stirfry in "brown sauce". I think I prefer to go to Panda Express for that. For $17 I can get a meal for 2 people! At least the ingredients seemed pretty fresh. But totally not worth it!
Overall I was really disappointed. The good thing is that the noodle textures were legit. The bad thing is, all the flavors and other dishes were lacking. And oh yea, it's freaking expensive for what you're getting. The service was meh as well. I think they're overwhelmed with the amount of people (although you'd think they'd be prepared by now..) And it took a long time to wait for some of the dishes.
I definitely recommend skipping the crowds here and go to JengChi for cheaper and better food. But if you really really wanna go... make sure you reserve in advance. I probably won't be going back. There's way more better places to eat around town.
Quality of Food:
~~ CHOMP CHOMP ~~