Fried Yam Paste Meat Dumplings at Royal China


It has taken a while for us to make it to Royal China. The main reason is Rachael’s absolute insistence that dim sum may only be eaten at lunchtime. This is, of course, a) absolutely correct and b) an absurd extra hurdle to add into a food challenge. Until I realised they don’t actually serve these little portions of deliciousness after 4pm!

“[They] have an excellent crunch-squish mouthfeel”

One of the delights of dim sum is that you get to have a variety of dishes, and choose a meal with things that complement and play off each other, so the presence of a particular item on Time Out’s top 100 list might seem a little odd. For one thing, whether you have a nice small dish meal is so often a matter of the selection rather than one stand-out plate. So the question is do the yam paste dumplings particularly impress.

The answer is probably no. Sure, they’re nice, with a vermicelli-like shell of crispy strands of fried yam coating the standard-flavour pork dumpling meat filling. They’re volcano hot to bite into, and (beyond the fear of burning) have an excellent crunch-squish mouthfeel, that does offer a fun texture to ponder alongside slick cheung fun and soft, doughy char siu buns. But there’s no blow-your-mind flavour from two relatively low-key ingredients, or other sensation that would make me rush back.

I doubt I’d miss these if I failed to order them on a return visit. Does anyone disagree?

Robata-grilled Scallops at Roka


Who doesn’t love scallops? Okay, so they’re not for seafood-allergy-sufferers. And perhaps they weren’t the perfect dish to eat at the start of Yom Kippur. But I love scallops. The taste, the texture, the simplicity and elegance. So long as they aren’t overcooked, they tend to be delicious. And the bigger, plumper, more ‘real’ the better.

“The star of the show is the scallop”

And I like Roka’s scallops. Grilled, presumably super-briefly, because these are the perfect textured and tender but full of flavour, brought out by the wasabi and shiso (a leafy, culinary herb – no, I didn’t know either). The ‘topping’ is a sideshow to the freshness and subtlety of the seafood itself – as it should be – you definitely wouldn’t want to compete with the main event.

If there’s any criticism I could level at this dish, it’s just that: the star of the show is the scallop, and it isn’t clear that the crack chefs at Roka (judging by the other dishes we ate, they know what they’re doing) really added a great deal to this star. Could these be the best scallops I’ve ever eaten? Probably yes, but, again, it’s hard to compare when they’re routinely so delicious. It’s not like a lasagne which sometimes comes together with the right taste, texture, balance of ingredients, etc., which amounts to something truly delicious. This was simple, elegant scallops.

I’m not complaining. Who doesn’t love scallops?

40 / 100 best dishes in London