Thursday 30 June 2011

Princess Garden - Going Cantonese in London

Steamed mashed pork
I know what you're thinking. It's all very well banging on about the wonderful Cantonese food in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, but what about London? With that in mind, I decided to check out Princess Garden of Mayfair. Having not long returned from Hong Kong, I was a tad apprehensive as to whether it'd be up to scratch.

Drunken chicken
Five-spice beef slices

But I needn't have worried, as most of the dishes were very good. Although not strictly Cantonese, the cold starters of five-spice beef slices and drunken chicken were indicative of the generally high standard of the food.

Steamed sea bass
When it came to the mains, the kitchen passed the test of steaming a sea bass to perfection. Extra marks too for the deboning and portioning-up. The steamed mashed pork took me back to my childhood, although I have to say my Mum's version is better. Gai-lan with garlic was well rendered as were the e-fu noodles that came with more crab than might be expected.

Pork casserole with preserved veg
The only slightly bum notes were the pork casserole with preserved veg and the egg white with chives. In the case of the former, the pork wasn't unctuous enough whilst the latter was a tad oily and a bit mean with the chives. That said neither dish was objectionable. To round off, we enjoyed authentic Cantonese desserts such as sago pudding w/fragrant taro.

The dining room oozes elegance and is reminiscent of an upscale Hong Kong hotel restaurant (in a good way). Service was exemplary, and given that we were in Mayfair, the bill was a pleasant surprise. I still can't quite believe that dinner was a mere £28/head albeit sans booze but with tea, rice and service.

Taro croquette
Returning a week later for lunch, I was equally impressed by the high quality of their dim sum. The benchmark of any dim sum kitchen is har gau and these amply filled prawn dumplings passed the test. Of the other classics, my favourite was the prettiest taro croquette that I've come across. It tasted as good as it looked.

As good as the classics were, it was the more unusual dishes that grabbed my attention. Sadly, they had run out of baked cha siu bao (like the ones I recently had in Guangzhou). However, my disappointment soon turned to joy when I saw that they served golden cuttlefish cheung fun (thanks for the tip-off, Sharmila).

Golden cuttlefish cheung fun
This dish sees cuttlefish paste wrapped in tofu skin and deep-fried, with the resultant roll then further wrapped in cheung fun. The triple textural contrast of springy cuttlefish paste, crispy tofu skin, and slippery smooth rice noodle was the highlight of lunch. Granted, it's not as good as the version that I had at The Garden Hotel in Guangzhou, but I'm dead chuffed to have found somewhere that serves this dish in London.

Any negatives? My only (minor) gripe is that the Cantonese BBQ selection is limited to roast duck and that the porky delights of cha siu and siu yuk are absent from the menu. Mind you, whilst I like to have some siu yuk (crispy belly pork) with my dim sum, its absence isn't the end of the world. In common with dinner, lunch was cheaper than I anticipated - eleven dishes of dim sum, tea and service came to around £42 or £14/head.

It'd be fair to say that I really like Princess Garden and I'm going to add it to my list of best places for dim sum in London. Dinner is also excellent, and I still can't believe what amazing value this restaurant is. Especially given its classy elegant dining room and prime Mayfair location. Highly recommended.

I've been back to this restaurant, and for a look at some of their more interesting dim sum, please click here and scroll to the bottom.

Princess Garden on Urbanspoon

Princess Garden of Mayfair, 8-10 North Audley Street, London, W1K 6ZD
(Tel: 020-7493-3223) Nearest tube: Bond St, Marble Arch


  1. Glad you enjoyed it, it is my new favourite dim sum place. I was unfortunately dragged to CCK for dim sum during the weekend when I would have gone to Princess Garden instead. I didn't realise that they have cuttlefish cheung fun. Ooh, and apparently their Peking Duck is meant to be good but one needs to call in and order an hour in advance. Something to arrange and try perhaps?

  2. Huzzah! I've got to try this place for dim sum!

  3. Princess Garden or Pearl Liang?

  4. I was very impressed with the dim sum, and I must have generally been impressed enough to go back twice in one week! Thanks for the invite for dinner.

    I think we're heading down for dim sum this Sunday again. I need more of that cuttlefish cheung fun!

  5. Kay - I saw an adjacent table order the Peking duck, and it looked good. Must give it a try.

    Su-Lin - let me know if you're planning a visit for dim sum.

    Thebao - Just to be awkward, I'm going to duck the question and propose Phoenix Palace! I know the menu well, and I'm a big fan of their dim sum specials and roast meats. At the moment, I'd like to check out some of Princess Garden's more unusual dim sum before going to Pearl Liang. I also find the latter a bit sterile.

    Sharmila - the dim sum menu strikes me as one of London's more interesting ones, and I'll definitely be returning here.

  6. Su-Lin, Mr Noodles - If you guys are heading there for dim sum...let me know.....I need to go back there...quite sad that I've only been there once! =(

  7. One to try before we head out to Guangzhou

  8. Trying to work out if I have been here or not? It sounds familiar. Glad to hear your return from HK has not been too much of a disappointment so far.

  9. Kay - will do

    Mzungu - do give it a whirl

    GChick - I left it a fortnight before coming here, just in case it didn't come up to scratch. But as I said, I needn't have worried.

  10. Went here today, based on your review. Was looking for an alternative to Queensway as it's so busy there!

    Dim sum was quite good, although a little smaller than I am used to (in Sydney). Good service though, and no need to fight the crowds.

    I'm new to London, so I'll be looking out for more foodie reviews!

  11. alifelessdigital - welcome! Good observation, as Aussie dim sum is bigger than London dim sum!