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“Even better than Hong Kong” is the wild claim made by fans of the dim sum at this Marylebone flagship for the China Club group – it’s “pricier than the rest, but a cut above, so worth it”. And don’t arrive late for your booking: “they limit your time to 1.5 hours because they’re always packed at the weekend”.
“Extremely good Chinese fare is cooked with real class” at the Royal China group’s “pricey but superior” Marylebone flagship; no great prizes for decor however, which “lacks warmth”.
“Hong Kong comes to London”, at the Royal China group’s “top-class” Marylebone flagship; “superb dim sum” is a highlight of the sometimes “amazing” Cantonese cuisine.
“Sophisticated” cooking has made quite a name for this “pricey” (club-class) Marylebone Chinese; critics find service “inconsistent”, though, and wonder if the premium over the tourist-class Royal Chinas is really justified.
Royal China Club W1
The Royal China group's first venture on this Marylebone site was a luxuriously minimalist Japanese restaurant called Michiaki. It didn't last.
Now they've turned it - essentially unchanged - into a sort of club-class Royal China. Many readers will know that Royal China is widely regarded as the capital's leading Chinese chain, so you might have thought this would be a winning formula: superior cooking served, for once, minus the group's love-it-or-hate-it '70s-disco decor. Which all goes to show that, as Bernard Shaw put it: You Never Can Tell.
What a disaster! How can you screw up seaweed? Admittedly a cliched choice it is, however, usually a pretty safe one. Not here. The cloying sweetness with which that dish was prepared, was to be a Leitmotif of the entire meal. We sampled extensively from both the dim sum menu and from the a la carte. Results from the former seemed marginally superior, with seafood dishes (we ate next to a fair sized tank of lobsters) turning out to be the best bets. But, without subjecting you to a blow-by-blow account, suffice is to say that what followed was, in large part, pretty ghastly. In the end, we just gave up, and picked at a few bits before the dishes were taken away uneaten.
On the plus side, the setting is comfortable, and the friendly service was in many respects exemplary (although, lacking a pad, the waiter inevitably got part of our order wrong). In the time-honoured tradition of disastrous Chinese meals, we couldn't help wondering if results might have been better if we spoke the lingo: the large tables full of oriental folk seemed to be having a much better time than we were.
40-42 Baker St, London, W1U 7AJ
all day noon - 11 pm
Last orders: 11 pm, Sun 10.30 pm