3 Fleur
Average check per person $15-$25
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayLunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayNo Dinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Royal China

Metairie 2: Orleans Line To Houma Blvd: 600 Veterans Blvd. 504-831-9633. Map.
Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Royal China is distinguished as the only local Chinese restaurant that serves a large selection of dim sum, the appetizer-size nibbles that could be called Chinese tapas. Royal China makes it all the time. Although they don’t serve them from a cart as the San Francisco dim sum places do, a book of photographs gives one a good idea of what’s available. The rest of the menu is more familiar but equally good–enough to keep the small dining room filled with regulars at most hours.

WHAT’S GOOD
Shirley Lee and her husband Teng–both Hong Kong natives–are as enthusiastic a pair of restaurateurs as I know. Especially Shirley, who knows what you want before you do. Take her advice, and you’ll get lots of good food you might have passed by. If you go for the dim sum, order a lot of it (I have eaten ten items in a sitting), and get at least one really exotic item (i.e., tripe, duck feet). This is a small, inexpensive, casual restaurant that’s not shooting for the heights, but Teng cooks well with good ingredients and serves very generously.

BACKSTORY
The building went up in the 1960s as a Plantation Fried Chicken take-out restaurant, and became the Royal China in 1978. The Lees (no relation to the late Sheriff Harry Lee, although he used to dine there a lot) still operate the restaurants in a hands-on, mom-and-pop (and kids) style.

DINING ROOM
The main room is made to look much bigger than it actually is through the use of mirrors. It’s decor is nicer than the exterior, but still not what you could call opulent. But neither are the prices.

ESSENTIAL DISHES
»Dim sum: be curious.
»Hot and sour soup.
Seafood rumaki.
»Lemon chicken.
Cashew chicken.
»Chicken blossom (chopped, in a lettuce leaf).
»Moo shu pork.
»Orange flavor catfish.
»Garlic shrimp.
Soft-shell crab with black bean sauce.
Salt and pepper shrimp or squid.
»Steamed scallops in the shell with ginger.
»Chinese red bean pancake.

FOR BEST RESULTS
The dim sum menu absolutely must be explored. There’s a buffet at lunch. This is to be avoided. As in all Chinese restaurants, forget about fried rice, moo goo gai pan, and Mandarin chicken. There’s much better to be had here.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
I can’t help but wonder what a great restaurant this would be in a bigger place. And I’m not sure.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment
  • Consistency +2
  • Service+1
  • Value +3
  • Attitude +2
  • Wine & Bar -1
  • Hipness +1
  • Local Color -1

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Open Monday lunch
  • Open all afternoon
  • Unusually large servings
  • Quick, good meal
  • Good for children
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations accepted

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
Dim sum means “warm the heart.” Cute and good little tidbits of this and that, with an emphasis on pasta-like stuffed dumplings and little piece of unusual meats and seafoods. Chinese think of dim sum as a mid-morning snack with tea, but the Royal China serves it all the time.


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