Oct 20 2013

Princess Garden


I was having a heated debate with my friend Ed about which is the best dim sum restaurant in London and he said it was Princess Garden, located in Mayfair. I had been to Princess Garden for dinner a few times and quite liked it, but as I had never been there for dim sum I was now very keen to see whether it was the best dim sum in London, so I suggested this restaurant when I decided to catch up with my friends Pepi and Patrick. Princess Garden is quite an old restaurant, it opened in 1983, although obviously the décor is not the same as in 1983 and has recently been changed by Belsize Architect into a contemporary venue that features Chinese art. There is only 1 dining room, which is spacious and light and also a few private rooms.

Our dim sum lunch was booked for 13.00 on a Sunday and when we arrived at 13.05, my boyfriend and I were asked to sit down on the black leather armchairs that are located by the entrance. Even though we did say we wanted to sit down despite the fact Patrick and Pepi were running a bit late, they just ignored us and kept sitting down around 10 parties that arrived after us, and making us wait by the entrance, which annoyed me, but they just did not seem to care. I also wanted to put my coat down in the cloackroom and they just asked me to sit down and said someone will come and take my coat but no one did, and in the end I just had to put the coat there myself. Almost 30 minutes after we had arrived we were finally seated down. The rest of the service was ok (apart from the waiters bringing us the bill when we asked for the desert menu, but they probably just did not hear what we were asking), just these ladies at the front door were not very nice.

I always like going to Chinese restaurants with my friend Patrick as he orders delicious dishes, and dishes I would never chose myself, as I order the boring westernized Chinese dishes. This time Patrick ordered “Baked Char Sui Pork Buns”, “Shredded Mooli Cakes” (or turnip cakes), “King Prawns Cheung Fun”, steamed “Scallop Gai Lan Dumplings”, “Shanghai Dumplings” (or Steamed Xiao Long Bao with meat filing) as well as Steamed har-kow (or steamed prawn dumpling) and Steamed char sui bun. All the dim sum was very good, and that is coming from Patrick, who is Chinese and knows these things better than I do. For the Shanghai dumplings though I would have preferred to have more sauce inside and less filling, as it felt like the proportion of this was not quite right, but still delicious. Also I thought the scallop dumplings were very pretty, nicely decorated and colourful, and I have not seen them being served so cute in any other restaurant. And I very much enjoyed the rest of the dim sum. I don’t really want to go through each dish, as there is not much to say, only that this was very good dim sum and most things tasted like they should taste in a good Chinese restaurant, so I was happy. I also ordered a hot and sour soup (Szechuan style) and that was very spicy and I enjoyed it but it took me a while to finish it and usually these soups are not that spicy.

Patrick also had the honour of ordering the main courses, “Braised tofu with dried scallop and mushroom” which was an interesting little dish, as I have not had this before, and I liked the sauce and liked the mushrooms but was not crazy about tofu as in general I am not crazy about tofu, but interesting choice. To go with this Patrick had ordered Chinese fried rice with salted fish and diced chicken (or Salted fish special fried rice) which was delicious. See me being European and conservative I would never myself order rice with salted fish, as to me it would be one of those slightly strange Chinese dishes, but here Patrick ordered it and I loved it, and did not really feel any salted fish, just lovely fried rice, so this is one dish that I will be ordering in the future. Patrick was also told by the waiter/ manager to order their signature dish which was pan fried black cod with a little bit of spring onions and chilli. I have to say this was a bit disappointing, considering this is their signature dish. The fish was nice but did not have that much of an interesting flavour to it, and you would expect flavoursome food in a Chinese restaurant. My boyfriend also thought it was too greasy (not sure I would agree, but this is an opinion of the dish). To go with all this food we also had sautéed kai-lan vegetable, nice, always good to have this with food in Chinese restaurants, although it did not have any sauce or garlic added to it, and was quite plain, but nicely steamed so it was still a bit crunchy.

I did have a nice dim sum meal at Princess Garden, but do I think this is the best dim sum restaurant in London? No, I don’t. The food is good, classical, and also it was not that expensive (we paid £36/ person), but it does lack that special extra thing in food or in atmosphere. The way I would describe this restaurant is a better looking, more elegant Royal China. It is not like Min Jiang, another Chinese restaurant, which has an amazing view and a star dish of a duck, it is not like Kai (another Chinese restaurant) that has another type of elegant charm about it and interesting dishes, Princess Garden is just a good, not amazing, Chinese restaurant.

Date: 20/ 10/ 13
Location: Mayfair
Price for 4 people with service charge: £144.90

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Maija rated: 



Princess Garden
8-10 N Audley Street, W1K 6ZD
United Kingdom
Princess Garden Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3.5